Memoirs by athletes lure readers in by promising to follow the storyline through training and emergence, heyday, downfall, and ultimate redemption.
Memoirs by kids from the mid-west are usually read because of the subject’s ascendance from tragedy and abuse.
A memoir by a mild-mannered Sacramento professor, devoted husband and father of three from Colorado whose life, in his own words, “is very bland and nothing [really] terrible [has] happened,” gets mildly more interesting once you learn that he was a contender for the US Olympics in fencing, studies flamenco guitar and has lived part of his life in Spain.
But what makes this memoir so terrific, and it is terrific, is the way Peter points out the repartee and parry of autobiography and fiction. The way he has used second person to both distance himself from the Peter he portrays and to include the reader as participant, or as he explains, — quote— “the “you” was somehow more universal–speaking for the suburban every man (or woman), the artist in all of us who wants to break free from the conventions of society and the demands of consumer society in particular.” As a writing teacher, he says, he‘s “met so many people who say they want to write but can’t seem to break out of the patterns of their lives.” He says that he wrote the memoir in part for them—for us—because, and I quote, “I am/was them.”
Peter has earned two bachelor’s degrees, (one of which was in Environmental, Populational, and Organismic Biology) an MA, an MFA, and a PhD from American universities, and a Curso Superior in Spanish Language from the University of Barcelona.
His latest publication, The Arsenic Lobster: A Hybrid Memoir is, as it says, hybridized; embracing the traditional bildungsroman, humor, metafiction, post and post post-modern elements. Illustrative of the author’s diverse talents, The Arsenic Lobster is a completely different work than his first novel, The Gravedigger, which is in the realm of magic realism a la Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
His writing has appeared in The Dos Passos Review, Post Road, Flatman Crooked, Necessary Fiction, and Writers’ Chronicle, and more short stories are forthcoming from Gargoyle, Eleven Eleven, Artocratic and Zone 3. His novel Nahoonkara has been picked up by Etruscan Press and is scheduled for release in 2011. The Gravedigger (Chronicle Books, 2006), was a Borders “Original Voices” and Barnes and Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection, and is under consideration to become a motion picture.
“You call them shadow memories because they flicker in and out of the dark recesses of your unconscious, inchoate (IN KO IT). There is a reason for that. The mind must protect itself. It’s not that these are repressed memories of traumas—this is not that kind of memoir. Rather, they are memories of almost selves, branches in the infinite plan, forks where you made your choice and yet, that almost life whispers back to you across time and space, that almost self haunts the person you are, reminding you of the many people you could have been.” (43-44)