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An Amazon Best Book of September 2015: Thanks to celebrated works like The Liar’s Club, Lit, and Cherry, many would argue that Mary Karr put memoirs on the map. She has a thing or two to say about that in The Art of Memoir, a distillation of over 30 years of writing and teaching the form. While it certainly should be required reading for anyone wanting to become the next Cheryl Strayed (whom Karr mentored), it has much on offer for those of us who have no intentions of laying ourselves bare on the page. By examining her favorite memoirs in her signature smart, irreverent style--and with contagious affection--Karr explains why they resonate with us: Memoirs are a means to make sense of a life; they reveal the sometimes skewed ways in which we see ourselves, and how those perceptions betray our frailties, and our strengths. If you’re wondering if Karr touches on charlatan “memoirists” like infamous Oprah punching bag, James Frey, she does. But only to point out the important distinctions between the malleability of memory, and simply making stuff up. Also, why are we so gullible in believing those fictions? A warning that your reading list is going to grow the further you venture into this book—Karr’s love for memoirs like Vladimir Nabokov’s Speak, Memory and Maxine Hong Kingston’s Woman Warrior just oozes off the page, and it’s hard not getting some of that on you. You’ll be better off if you just let it. --Erin Kodicek--This text refers to the hardcover edition.
“Could have been called ‘The Art of Living.’” -- San Francisco Chronicle
“Mary Karr has written another astonishingly perceptive, wildly entertaining, and profoundly honest book-funny, fascinating, necessary. The Art of Memoir will be the definitive book on reading and writing memoir for years to come.” -- Cheryl Strayed
“Should be required reading for anyone attempting to write a memoir, but anyone who loves literature will enjoy it too.” -- Wall Street Journal
“Terrific and deliciously readable guide.” -- Entertainment Weekly, “Must List”
“Full of Karr’s usual wit, compassion and, perhaps most reassuringly, self-doubt. Her fans should be delighted―and they can’t go wrong reading the books she discusses, including her own.” -- Washington Post
“From a contemporary luminary of the form, Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir examines our enduring drive to make memory speak and to ‘wring some truth from this godawful mess of a single life.’” -- Vogue
“The Art of Memoir is passionate and irreverent-and reminds us why we love a good memoir.” -- Elle
“Mary Karr strikes a vein in The Art of Memoir.” -- Vanity Fair
“Karr is such fun to read-who else would combine the name Nabokov and the phrase “out the wazoo” on her very first page?” -- New Yorker
“Engaging.” -- Chicago Tribune
“A veritable blueprint for the genre…. Lovers of the form and aspiring scribblers alike will relish this comprehensive appreciation of and guide to ‘writing the real self.’” -- O: The Oprah Magazine
“With a trio of notable memoirs (”The Liars’ Club,” “Cherry,” and “Lit”), Mary Karr is exquisitely qualified to write this book, a kind of compendium of advice, warning, and deep insight into what makes a personal history stick in a reader’s mind.” -- Boston Globe
“Karr really is an artist. The Art of Memoir attests to how hard she works at getting her words just right and how deeply she understands the way great writing works.” -- Slate
“Whip-smart.” -- Philadelphia Inquirer
“As useful for those of us who want to be better friends and lovers as it is for those of us who want to pen our life story.” -- More
“A master class on memoir, from a memoirist who pulls no punches.” -- Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Lots of practical advice, a great reading list, examples you can bite into.” -- Houston Chronicle
“Karr’s own voice is consistent and authentic, as vivid, down-home, smart, profane and self-deprecating as it is in her own memoirs.” -- St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“A celebration of the creative life.” -- Austin American-Statesman
“Enlightening….Fresh and heartfelt….Instructs and inspires through example and a love for the art of memoir.” -- Library Journal, starred review
“Karr write[s] exquisitely…and without pretense, often with raw authenticity….a must-read.” -- Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Snappy and witty, humorous just when it needs to be, yet plainspoken in the best way.” -- Shelf Awareness
“Karr’s sassy Texas wit and her down-to-earth observations about both the memoir form and how to approach it combine to make for lively and inspiring reading. A generous and singularly insightful examination of memoir.” -- Kirkus --This text refers to the paperback edition.
- ASIN : B00RLQXBYS
- Publisher : Harper; Reprint edition (September 15, 2015)
- Publication date : September 15, 2015
- Language : English
- File size : 582 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 256 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #71,933 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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It's worth skimming through, but only as a library loan. I would not recommend buying this book as my definition of a book worth buying is a book worth re-reading. On the other hand, if you were not an English major or already a writer, then you might find this book more helpful than I did.
As a side note, it strikes me that some of the really positive reviews on here might have been written by her students, so I want to disclose that I am not a student of hers.
Mary Karr, regarded as the Goddess of writing memoir by those of us hoping one day to write a memoir, has written a book called THE ART of MEMOIR (Harper). Her previous three memoirs, THE LIAR’S CLUB, CHERRY and LIT all have been best sellers and now she offers us a glimpse into the world she knows so well. Karr has taught a graduate seminar at Syracuse University for the last thirty-years and THE ART of MEMOIR is like being admitted into her class and learning the secrets of Karr’s own writing and lots of practical advise.
Karr repeatedly pounds into readers the concept of “carnality,” as being what is most important to bring to the page to make scenes come alive. That a scene needs grounding in details to appeal to the senses.
“Every memoir should brim over with physical experiences that once streamed in the smell of garlickly gumbo, your hand on animal’s fur, the ocean’s phosphor lighting up bodies underwater all acid green.”
But let’s face it, what many of us want to read in a memoir is juicy controversy and problems that went on in the life of the writer. Was mom really an alcoholic? Did dad beat the family with his belt? Did that bastard neighbor from across the street really steal the monthly check? It’s unfortunate, but happy family stories don’t sell books. We want suffering and self-exposure, betrayals, confessions, family discord and our fighting.
Of course, never is the truth to be compromised. And that’s where is gets tricky. That’s where anyone thinking about writing a memoir would be wise to pick up Mary Karr’s, THE ART of WRITING MEMOIR. It might save you a lot of headaches and perhaps some legal fees. (that’s a joke, this book does NOT offer legal advise)
For all things MARY, check out her website http://www.marykarr.com She’s also on Facebook and Twitter. If you happen to be in South Florida Nov. 14th – 22nd, check out the Miami Book Fair. Mary Karr will be on a panel discussion Saturday, November 21st @ 11:30 on the Miami Dade College Campus. Needless to say, I’m thrilled! http://www.miamibookfair.com
Top reviews from other countries
Full of worthiness, but it's rambling and unfocused,- and I wouldn't recommend it to any prospective memoirist wanting help.
Many interesting anecdotes, however.