Dress, Memory by Lorelei Vashti
Reading Lorelei Vashti’s Dress, Memory feels akin to spending time with a dear friend – the kind who might grip your hand fiercely as they talk, who could be accused of over-sharing but also bravely reveals their private, personal world in the hope that the listener might connect to their experiences in some way, and in turn, find comfort.
This sort of openness and warmth finds an easy home in Vashti’s coming-of-age memoir. This is an exploration of her twenties, and she traverses this decade of her life through the dresses she collected along the way, each with memories stitched into their seams. From the opening sentence, ‘When I was twenty my heart started beating so loudly it terrified me,’ Vashti lays her anxieties and self-doubts bare. Her stories are perceptive and relatable, and while each unique to her own life, the constant theme of figuring out who you are echoes the experiences of so many twenty-somethings – a period where you ‘expect certain things to happen in a certain way’, but where life doesn’t always go according to plan.
There seems to be a Gen-Y memoir craze at the moment, potentially a trend that taps into a voyeuristic curiosity of other people’s lives. Yet reading Vashti’s memoir is an inherently self-reflective experience too. Dress, Memory is comforting as well as entertaining because it assures readers that maybe it’s okay not to have things entirely figured out yet. At the end of the day, maybe stumbling through your twenties actually makes for better stories, and a more comprehensive understanding of your identity. Vashti is a self-aware narrator and one who knows how to aptly shape a structured, compelling narrative out of a chaotic life. At its heart, Dress, Memory affirms that the possibilities for where you’re meant to go are open, and the choices are your own. It’s a joy to read.
Stella Charls works as a bookseller at Readings Carlton.