Merriam-Webster defines memoir as a "narrative composed from personal experience." It may encompass the entirety of a person's life, or only a portion of it. This sets it apart from a traditional autobiography, which is usually a chronological account of the full span of that life.
Perhaps the fastest-growing segment of nonfiction publishing, the memoir has become the literary vehicle of choice for all manner of people wishing to share their reflections about life with a wide audience. Ben Yagoda, who has written a history of such works, calls it "the central form of culture."
"Lit" by Mary Karr: In two previous memoirs, Karr has written about the hardships of her life growing up in Southeast Texas. Her latest work is an account of her efforts to achieve middle-class stability through marriage and parenthood. She is unable to escape her troubled past; however, and her life spirals into alcoholism and mental illness. Readers will appreciate Karr's unflinching honesty and irreverent humor as well as the outcome of her story. By journey's end, she has found a path towards recovery and personal salvation through faith.