The Art of Memoir

The Art of Memoir

Book - 2015
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"In some ways, writing a memoir is knocking yourself out with your own fist, if it's done right."--from The Art of Memoir

Credited with sparking the current memoir explosion, Mary Karr's The Liars' Club spent more than a year at the top of the New York Times list. She followed with two other smash bestsellers: Cherry and Lit, which were critical hits as well.

For thirty years Karr has also taught the form, winning teaching prizes at Syracuse. (The writing program there produced such acclaimed authors as Cheryl Strayed, Koren Zailckas, and Keith Gessen.) In The Art of Memoir, 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 Art of Memoir lays bare Karr's own process. (Plus all those inside stories about how she dealt with family and friends get told--and the dark spaces in her own skull probed in depth.) 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.

Joining such classics as Stephen King's On Writing and Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, The Art of Memoir is an elegant and accessible exploration of one of today's most popular literary forms--a tour de force from an accomplished master pulling back the curtain on her craft.

Publisher: New York, NY : Harper, [2015]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ♭2015
ISBN: 9780062223067
Characteristics: xxiii, 229 pages


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Jul 11, 2016

Was not as blown away as I expected to be, considering how much I love Mary Karr and memoirs, but this still packs a good punch.

Apr 19, 2016

As I've grown older and read more broadly and deeply, I've found that voice in writing is everything to me, and if I don't feel a connection with that voice--don't feel that the voice and the narrator or author behind that voice are providing me with guidance and a meaningful experience, then I'll bail.

Karr's book is thoughtful, engaging, funny and encouraging--but most of all, her voice leading the reader through the memoir-writing process, is true. This is a writer and teacher who cares deeply for the craft, and she's willing to share her mistakes, her faults and herself with the reader. Top notch.

Jan 29, 2016

Interestingly written in Mary Karr's usual down-to-earth style. Not as much "how to" as I hoped, but still informative and in general a good reference for those wanting to know what makes a compelling memoir vs. a boring one.

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