cover image Your Life Is a Book: How to Craft & Publish Your Memoir

Your Life Is a Book: How to Craft & Publish Your Memoir

Brenda Peterson and Sarah Jane Freymann. Sasquatch, $16.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-57061-930-4

Writing instructor Peterson (Secret Histories) and literary agent Freymann combine their talents in this helpful but sometimes awkward guide to memoir-writing. They offer plenty of insights gleaned from their own experiences, such as “character evolution is the narrative arc and plot of any memoir” and “for many writers, their work is also a spiritual practice.” To these ideas, they add the requisite writing prompts, exercises, and publishing tips. Of particular note are the lessons which Peterson and Freymann draw from the careers of successful memoirists like Cheryl Strayed and Dawn Raffel. The section on publishing is strong, with concrete tips from editors and reviewers. The chapters on writing, however, have some weaknesses: Peterson and Freymann seem oddly fixated on the theme of food and its importance as a subject in memoirs, going so far as to twice state, cryptically, “The more unusual or ordinary your story, the more vital the subject of food is.” The pair also undercut their credibility somewhat with prose stumbles that include clunky phrasing, mixed metaphors, and incomplete sentences. Despite these lapses, there is still much here that will be eye-opening for the aspiring memoirist. Agent: Sarah Jane Freymann, Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. (Oct.)