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Naked, Drunk, and Writing: Shed Your Inhibitions and Craft a Compelling Memoir or Personal Essay Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 92 customer reviews

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Length: 258 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews


“Very savvy and smart and hugely entertaining.”
--ANNE LAMOTT, author of Bird by Bird

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

Adair Lara's essays have been anthologized upwards of fifty times.

Product Details

  • File Size: 632 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (August 31, 2010)
  • Publication Date: August 31, 2010
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003E8AIX4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #392,037 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Adair Lara started her career writing for local magazines--first at San Francisco Focus, the city magazine, and then at SF, a design magazine at which she passed herself off as someone passionately interested in interior design. She wrote freelance humor pieces for the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday section, and in 1989 they invited her to join the staff and write a regular column of my own. The newspaper was famed then for its columnists, which include Pulitzer Prize winners Stanton Delaplane, Charles McCabe, and Herb Caen. She has published some ten books or so, including several collections of columns (for more information, go to Her essays have been anthologized upwards of fifty times.

She has won a wide range of awards including:
* 1990: Associated Press, Best Columnist in California.
* 1997: Humor Columns for Newspapers over 100,000, National Society of Newspaper Columnists
* 1998: First place, general interest columns, National Society of Newspaper Columnists.
* 1999: Second place, commentary, American Association of Sunday and Feature editors contest, competing against papers with circulation over 300,000.
* May 17, 2002 was declared Adair Lara Day in San Francisco by proclamation of Mayor Willie Brown

Published books include:
* Naked, Drunk, and Writing (Ten Speed Press, 2010)
* The Granny Diaries (Chronicle Books, 2008)
* The Bigger the Sign, the Worse the Garage Sale (Chronicle Books, 2007)
* You Know You're A Writer When (Chronicle Books, 2007)
* Oopise! Ouchie! (Chronicle Books, 2004) - a board book for kids
* Normal is Just a Setting on the Dryer Chronicle Books (2003)
* Hanging out the Wash (Redwheelweiser, 2002) - sold 11,043 copies
* Slowing Down in a Speeded-Up World (Redwheelweiser, 2002) - sold 18,061 copies
* Hold Me Close, Let Me Go (Broadway Books, 2001) - sold 22,000 copies in hardcover and paperback
* The Best of Adair Lara (Scottwall Associates, 1999) - sold 19,500 copies
* At Adair's House (Chronicle Books, 1995)
* Welcome to Earth, Mom (Chronicle Books, 1992)

Praise for Hold Me Close, Let Me Go
The thrilling level of honesty and discovery burned into every line of Hold Me Close, Let Me Go is something that rarely informs a memoir of any kind. In this case, Adair Lara has transcended the genre of self to achieve selflessness. Her story of her struggle, the mistakes, the triumphs, the abiding love and pure anguish to save her brilliant and self-destructive daughter is a must read for anyone who loves a child, or ever hopes to love a child. Not every child will follow Morgan's stormy passage to redemption, but many will, and for any parent, Lara's book will be a beacon.
--Jacqueline Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
There is one big difference between this book and the other numberous books I own on this topic. The difference is that Adair deals with the number one problem with writers -- they will do anything they can to actually not write. As Adair says, "writing is scary. It always will be." This book shows the reader how to actually "apply butt to chair" and get started. One of her more helpful hints is the exercise to write 500 words a day. It doesn't have to be good but it does have to be 500 words and it does have to be every day. Writers write. Everyday. I love her exercises that help you get going. Each chapter has a Try This exercise -- for example:
Write about your closet. Write about the contents of your purse. Once you get started, you will be surprised that you most likely have gone over your 500 word goal. Of course Adair deals with all the elements of writing and refining essays and memoirs as well as sumbitting your work for publication.
Naked, Drunk and Writing, what more could you ask for.......
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Format: Paperback
I have been writing for many years and have read way too many books about writing when I should have been writing. Most books give you a few pointers that may or may not be helpful. This one is like sitting in a well taught class on essay and memoir. Lara answers the burning questions of all memoirists, and she does it in a voice and tone that make you believe she is your best friend from high school. Her advice is dead on, her tone encourages without forgetting that writing is hard damn work. This book shows you how to make that hard work result in something you'll be proud to submit to an editor. It's now sitting next to "Bird by Bird" on my writing shelf.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is definitely a book you cannot judge by its cover nor its title.
As a San Francisco Bay Area local, I enjoyed Adair Lara's columns in the Chronicle. Tuesday and Thursday started with a delicious dose of her wit and insight. So when I saw her name in my Vine list, I clicked on Send before even reading the book description.
Adair has written a guide to craft personal essays and memoirs, the relatively new literary category of creative non-fiction. She starts with clarifying what a personal essay entails. It has a goal, a struggle, an epiphany and a description of the changes that epiphany wrought. It is not about your ugly divorce but about how the ugly divorce freed you to become a divorce attorney. Do not be a victim: you will lose your readership.
She gives very practical advice that still leaves plenty of room for your own process and personality. Instead of insisting that the reader do exercises, she has little inserts entitled "Try this!" Her hints are in gray boxes for The Crafty Writer.
Among the techniques covered are the story arc and the beats of emotion through the story, expansion of sentences in the critical sections and the briefness necessary for the setup scenes.
Throughout the book, she includes quotes from her students, other writer friends, and published authors. The disadvantage of using her students is that we are left with a protagonist sitting in a wheelchair at the entrance to a hospital during a snow storm. The snow drifts up in the corners of the portico and under his feet. We never find out what happened and we don't know the author to track down the story. Adair, are you listening?
Speaking of her students, those who have taken her workshop and pushed their work in the real world have had success.
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1 Comment 22 of 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
"An angle is a way to tell a story. It is to the essay what a premise is to a book, or a handle is to advertising, or a high concept is to a movie (dinosaurs brought back to life for a theme park!). It's a gimmick or twist or conceit that grabs the reader's attention long enough for you to say what you want to say. Think of the angle as the Christmas tree. Once you have that six-foot pine standing up next to the piano, it's pretty easy to see where the decorations go. Without the tree, what have you got? A lot of pretty balls on the floor."

This paragraph exemplifies the author's approach to "good" writing: never say things simply or directly, always gussy things up, find a "gimmick" or "twist" by which to "grab" the reader, trim the Christmas tree: the very things that define glib, mannered, and pretentious writing.

On the contrary: if a thing can be said simply and directly, so it should be said. Serious readers don't want gimmicks, and serious writers don't resort to them. Yes, they have distinct voices, but the distinctions are born of a dedication to precision, a sense of rhythm and timing, a horror of abstraction, cliché, and cant. Imagine someone telling Flaubert, "Hey, Gustave, gussy it up a bit, why don't you? You need an angle! Too direct, too direct!"

What's ironic in all this is that Adair Lara herself writes pretty well. The paragraph above wherein she urges conceits and contrivance upon her readers is itself void of such things. Yes, there are clever (if misguided) ideas supported with vivid analogies. But these are expressed by way of clear, simple, and direct sentences--not by gimmicks or twists. "You can't just come out and say what you have to say," Lara exhorts us. Yet that is what she herself does when writing well.
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Should you write a memoir?
Lara makes it clear in her book that anecdotes do not a memoir or an essay make. Nothing wrong with writing them down, but you need to plug them into a narrative with a voice and shape it in a way that you reveal how this changed you. I think she saved me a lot of time and effort.
Sep 1, 2010 by Yours Truly |  See all 2 posts
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