- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (September 15, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062223062
- ISBN-13: 978-0062223067
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 439 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Art of Memoir Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 15, 2015
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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
“Karr is a national treasure—that rare genius who’s also a brilliant teacher. This joyful celebration of memoir packs transcendent insights with trademark hilarity. Anyone yearning to write will be inspired, and anyone passionate to live an examined life will fall in love with language and literature all over again. ” (George Saunders)
“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)
Top customer reviews
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Fans of Mary Karr's three memoirs will find fascinating information about what she left out and why. They will recognize her unique and compelling voice on every page and proceed through the book eager to read what comes next.
She analyzes in helpful detail the authors and works she most admires, often adding fascinating anecdotes about them. She examines some of the high-profile failures as well. Karr shares background stories about her own writing, including the physical toll it has taken.
What I most want to tell you is this. I read this book in one sitting, and when I finish this review I'm going to reread it. Then I'm going to reread Nabokov's "Speak, Memory." I will read anything Mary Karr wants to write.
To offer your self, after passionately digging out the truth and polishing it up for others. This is a jewel that makes the world less lonely.
It's not for the faint hearted. It takes being able to look in the mirror and see the beauty and the warts of your life, then get over yourself enough to write it all until you can boil it down I to something like Balsamic vinegar syrup over strawberries.
If a minor mathematician can write pixie fairy dust on the pages of a memoir written after he tried to douse his life out, you can write yours. But first read this book. Then write and rewrite until your fingers turn blue.
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
Most recent customer reviews
My copy was came promptly.