Sunday, November 29, 2009

"I know this much is true"

Wally Lamb's Novel, I know this much is true, offers strong support for writing personal narrative as a source of healing. The novel itself is written in the first person and thus it represents the (fictional) character's (Dominick) efforts to write his own life story and to find the meaning in his life. He struggles with twinship, mental illness, death, abuse, love, absence and loss of love, parenthood and parentlessness, anger, self destruction, sexuality, culture, religion....and all of the other issues that challenge us to combat meaninglessness and create meaning.

A central aspect of the novel is a personal narrative written by Dominick's grandfather at the urging of a priest who believes that he might find healing and personal redemption from the writing and from discussing his writing and life with the priest. Domencio puts off writing his life story for many years after the priest suggested it, and he completes his narrative just before his death. The story itself is full of self justification and pride, much of it in relation to things that Domenico might well have been ashamed of. One imagines that if he had written the story earlier and if he had worked with it, for example by discussing it with the priest, he might have found the transformation and healing he was in need of and perhaps seeking.

As it is, the narrative he wrote becomes a central aspect of the healing of his grandson and namesake--Dominick--who eventually finds the lessons he needs for his own growth and healing in his grandfather's story. The novel is long (and wonderful). Most of us don't have the time or talent to write this kind of full life story. And, while each of our lives is rich and complex, Dominick, as a fictional character is given more challenges and more dramatic challenges than most of us. Dominick's grandfather also has a life that is more dramatic and externally complex than most, but his narrative is much shorter.

We don't have to write novels, or even 75 page narratives, to participate in the growth and healing that writing autobiographical stories can provide. Short vignettes, little pieces of our lives considered one at a time, and in relation to one another can be a powerful vehicle for self transformation. Reading helps, too.

I invite you to write short narratives of your own and post them as comments here. Better yet, start your own blog and write your personal stories there. Link them here so that I and others can read them and grow with you.


  1. I am hoping some people will do what you have requested. So far tonight I have read two other blog posts that do just this and I commented to them how much I appreciated their personal stories.
    Thank you for this post

  2. Arlee Bird sent. Go on with blogging!

  3. Hey! You have a great blog here. A very happy new year and all the very best to you!