Mem’s the Word
Mem’s the Word
by Mem Fox
published 1990 Ligature finest genre Memoir
Mem’s the Word is the candid and compelling autobiography of Australia’s most successful children’s author. It begins with Mem’s ancestors settling in Australia and follows her childhood in Africa, her education in Europe, her return to Australia and the trials and successes of her international career as a writer, storyteller and teacher. It unfolds as an endlessly generous reminiscence, full of truth and humour, self-awareness and insight, and the secrets of a writer’s life.
As Mem explains:
‘I’d had an interesting life, growing up in Africa; working in Switzerland as a maid in between home and college; going to drama school in London in the swinging sixties; meeting the love of my life; teaching in Rwanda; moving back to Australia; having a baby and loving a daughter; having cancer; writing the best selling book of its kind; and learning to love America.
‘I wrote it all down and then cut most of it and rearranged it in such a way that it reads like a true-story novel—I’d wanted to write a novel and grabbed this as a second-best opportunity. So it does read intentionally like a rollicking story. I even copied Charles Dickens’ technique of finishing each chapter in such a way that readers had to read the next chapter to know what happened. Cheeky.
‘I know it was been the much-loved choice of many reading clubs when it first came out (if my correspondence is anything to go by) since it is, I guess, a book for women. I hear of women reading it in bed and saying: “Listen to this,” so often their partners have been driven to reading it themselves. According to the stream of long, self-revelatory letters I still receive about it, it seems to make women howl with laughter and weep with recognition. That makes me happy.’
In the United States, Mem’s the Word is known as Dear Mem Fox, I Have Read All of Your Books Even the Pathetic Ones and Other Incidents in the Life of a Children's Book Author.