Tattered Memory: Memoir with Timothy C. Baker and Helen Taylor
Saturday 24th September
3.30 - 4.30pm BST
King's Pavilion, University of Aberdeen King's Campus
How do you write memoir when your memory is in tatters or there are no records of the story you want to tell? How do you write about family, grief, trauma? Is there more than one version of a true story?
Join Professor Timothy C. Baker and Dr Helen Taylor to discuss how they explored these issues and more in their new memoirs, Reading My Mother Back and Love Lay Down Beside Me and We Wept.
Helen Taylor is author of the novel The Backstreets of Purgatory (Unbound, 2018). Her work has appeared in Boundless Magazine, Product Magazine, Poetry Scotland and as part of the Un(Mother) project at the Brighton Fringe 2021. Before becoming a writer, she was a doctor and a research scientist but suffered a catastrophic episode of major depression during which she was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and which changed her life forever. Love Lay Down Beside Me and We Wept is a raw account of the devastating — and comical — aspects of life in a psychiatric ward, of memory loss and the vagaries of the human mind and body, and of how lost a person can be inside their own head, but it is also a remarkable story of unwavering love. The book is currently available for pre-order at unbound.com/books/love-lay-down-beside-me-and-we-wept.
When his mother died, Timothy C. Baker discovered that there was almost no record of her existence, and no stories that were his to tell: the only way to bring her back was through reading. Reading My Mother Back is a genre-bending memoir that explores a life marked by trauma, illness, religion, and abuse through a focus on the books Baker and his mother shared. The book combines accounts of rereading childhood classics with true and apocryphal stories of a quiet life, marked by great sorrow and great joy. The book is about grief and memory and how our childhood reading shapes the way we see the world; it's about loneliness and the search for belonging; it's about how ordinary lives are transfigured by storytelling. Professor Baker teaches Scottish and contemporary literature at the University of Aberdeen, and is the author of four previous books, most recently New Forms of Environmental Writing: Gleaning and Fragmentation (2022).