Making a (referential) effort is one thing, wanting to do it is an altogether different one; but the former certainly is a corollary of the latter. Why as a reader do you decide to redirect attention away from the narrative in order, paradoxically, to make it more real? Possible answers are: because that is the only reading contract offered by the author, or because you find the narrative sufficiently interesting to try to be a more thorough reader. The first answer is the objective one, linked to genre as a contractual frame, the second is much more subjective and can be broken down into multiple motivations. But to go back to the first answer, we have seen that many readers, and more often than not I count myself among them, are not contrarian: If the book cover says “memoir,” for instance, they read it as a memoir. And yet, I have also pointed out that when it comes to mentally reenacting the narrative, this does not mean much phenomenologically. I have read so many memoirs, not as fictional narratives but as abstract ones: being aware of their referentiality, but with this awareness remaining at an abstract level. I took a highly sensitive example in the previous chapter, below is another one with a lesser historical dimension, but one that epitomizes—in the best light possible—the current “boom” of memoirs centered on an individual’s ordeal (bereavement, disability, incest, illness, for instance):

On most surface levels I seemed rational. To the average observer I would have appeared to fully understand that death was irreversible. I had authorized the autopsy. I had arranged for cremation. I had arranged for his ashes to be picked up and taken to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, where, once Quintana was awake and well enough to be present, they would be placed in the chapel off the main altar where my brother and I had placed our mother’s ashes. I had arranged for the marble plate on which her name was cut to be removed and recut to include John’s name. Finally, on the 23rd of March, almost three months after his death, I had seen the ashes placed in the wall and the marble plate replaced and a service held. (42)