Title: Art of Memoir
Author: Mary Karr
Synopsis: “For thirty years Karr has also taught the form, winning teaching prizes at Syracuse. She synthesizes her expertise as professor and therapy patient, writer and spiritual seeker, recovered alcoholic and “black belt sinner,” providing a unique window into the mechanics and art of the form that is as irreverent, insightful, and entertaining as her own work in the genre. Anchored by excerpts from her favorite memoirs and anecdotes from fellow writers’ experience, the book lays bare Karr’s own process. As she breaks down the key elements of great literary memoir, she breaks open our concepts of memory and identity, and illuminates the cathartic power of reflecting on the past; anybody with an inner life or complicated history, whether writer or reader, will relate.”
Why I can’t live without this book: I mean, you knew I had to include a book on writing, right? Next to Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, this is my favorite book on All Things Writing – probably because it specifically addresses the memoir genre. Karr gives light to the fact that writing is hard, and that revising is even harder …but isn’t that part and parcel what makes us love the work? So, whether you’re a reader or a writer, I highly suggest this nugget from one of the greatest memoirists of our age.
(One of my) favorite quotes: “Writing, regardless of the end result—whether good or bad, published or not, well reviewed or slammed—means celebrating beauty in an often ugly world.” Celebrating beauty, baby!
So, Art of Memoir: have you read it? Did it change the way you write, if you write (and especially if you’re a memoirist?)
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