Click Here To Purchase The Muse Moves On: A Memoir

Author: Rita M. Kallerhoff

Publisher: The K Studios, New York

ISBN: 978-0-98315333-3-7

The literary genre known as ‘memoir’ is not a life story from beginning to end that requires research, dates and double-checked facts, as is an autobiography.  Rather, as Gore Vidal wrote in 'Palimpset', a memoir is simply "how one remembers one's own life.”  

A *powerful* memoir is not only narrative in nature exploring the writer’s memory of past events and other people, it is reflective about the things or people that influenced the writer; it consists of highlights linked in story form that point out an underlying theme, emphasizing problem-resolution or why something happened; and it is reflective of the author’s self-questioning about lessons-learned. 

Henry David Thoreau said, “What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.” In other words, ‘meaning’ and ‘relevance’ are vital to excellence in memoir-writing.  Is 'The Muse Moves On: A Memoir' an example of excellence in memoir-writing?

The author begins with captivating words: “I was not a wanted child, and I knew it even while still in the womb.” Before the book’s first paragraph ends, Kallerhoff describes herself as an artist whose “birth in the medium of color was a combination of my brother’s exotic stamp collection and my mother’s equally exotic wardrobe.”  By page three, the reader has encountered a strong independent spirit desperately wanting to “became a dreamer, fleeing to a better world of my own creation” whose “mistrust of the human race has lasted a lifetime” and whose “intense flirtation with the world of acting and theatre instilled in me a lifelong passion for reading.”  A wonderful introduction! 

It is not surprising that the author’s life was unusual and at times eccentric as she travelled the world; encountered muses from whom she sought love, acceptance and inspiration; and painted whenever and wherever she went, untroubled by financial constraints because of the financial support of her benefactor, The Patron.

Kallerhoff believed that “to live in the moment and be a free thinker” was paramount to being an artist, and so that is the life she led and described in her journey through exotic lands, fascinating people, affluence, self-absorption, guile and nuances of artistic temperament alongside creative talent and life’s dark shadows. 

While the author weaves a fascinating story interspersed with photos of her life and art, there are gaps - 

Of her time in India, she writes: “all of these different cultures and landscapes changed me and my thinking” (p 69)  

Having been the recipient of a seemingly never-ending supply of financial support from The Patron, she  writes  “I hopefully would do the same for an artist just like me” (p 115).  

Reflecting on one of the muses she encounters on her life’s journey, she notes “she seemed to possess all the qualities of a muse that keep an artist like me working and dreaming, day and night” (p 168)

Reflecting on the last muse she writes “like an indulgent mother, I continued to give in to his fancies, unable to resist his youthful enthusiasms.  I had gained a son and muse with whom I could be childish and creative.” (p 218) and the reader is left with unanswered questions … “How was Kellerhoff changed by the culture/landscape of India?” ... “Did she become The Patron to another artist?” ... “What is her understanding of the qualities of a muse?” ... “What was there about Sharif that made him such a muse?”  

Had the author been challenged to explore her responses to these questions and had she written the rest of the book in the style of these two sentences:

“Standing alone on the terrace of my new home, I noticed that, though the house was drenched in sunlight, there was an unexplained dark quality to it.   I could hear sand shifting within the thick, cool walls, perhaps caused by breeding snakes that hid within” 

she could have had a powerful and exceptional memoir.   

This is a readable, interesting and at times, a fascinating book, but it could have been so much more.

Click Here To Purchase The Muse Moves On: A Memoir