The Art of Memoir

Mary Karr. Harper, $24.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-222306-7
Karr (The Liars’ Club), the author of three lauded memoirs, teaches a selective memoir writing graduate class at Syracuse University, and offers her wisdom in this instructive guide to the genre. Not only does Karr write exquisitely herself (and without pretense, often with raw authenticity—“One can’t mount a stripper pole wearing a metal diving suit”), she clearly adores memoirs; the appendix of nearly 200 suggested (“required”) memoirs is a delightful and useful bonus. The text is a must-read for memoirists, but will also appeal to memoir lovers and all who are curious about how books evolve. For writers in particular, Karr covers such essential topics as the quest for truth (probing its elusive nature), finding one’s own “true” voice or “you-ness,” (“Most memoirs fail because of voice,” she asserts), the crucial process of revision, evoking the five senses, and how to deal with family and others who play major parts in the memoir (she sends her polished manuscripts out in advance for inspection and lets friends pick their own pseudonyms). As if auditing her class, readers learn from her commentary on the memoirs of Vladimir Nabokov, Michael Herr, Frank McCourt, Hilary Mantel, and others. Karr lends her characteristic trueness and “you-ness” to the subject of writing memoirs, wisely (and quite often humorously) guiding readers in their understanding and experience of the art. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/06/2015
Release date: 09/15/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-241711-4
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-06-222308-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-5046-4839-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-5046-4840-0
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-06-222307-4
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Audio book sample courtesy of HarperAudio
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