Other Sellers on Amazon
Download the free Kindle app and start reading Kindle books instantly on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required. Learn more
Read instantly on your browser with Kindle Cloud Reader.
Using your mobile phone camera - scan the code below and download the Kindle app.
Enter your mobile phone or email address
By pressing "Send link," you agree to Amazon's Conditions of Use.
You consent to receive an automated text message from or on behalf of Amazon about the Kindle App at your mobile number above. Consent is not a condition of any purchase. Message & data rates may apply.
Follow the Author
The Art of Memoir Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 15, 2015
|New from||Used from|
Explore your book, then jump right back to where you left off with Page Flip.
View high quality images that let you zoom in to take a closer look.
Enjoy features only possible in digital – start reading right away, carry your library with you, adjust the font, create shareable notes and highlights, and more.
Discover additional details about the events, people, and places in your book, with Wikipedia integration.
Enhance your purchase
"These Tangled Vines: A Novel" by Julianne MacLean
From the USA Today bestselling author of A Curve in the Road comes a sweeping and captivating tale of one woman’s journey to the lush vineyards of Tuscany―and into the mysteries of a tragic family secret.| Learn more
Frequently bought together
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
“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
- Publisher : Harper; 1st edition (September 15, 2015)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062223062
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062223067
- Item Weight : 12.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 1.1 x 8.1 x 5.8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #483,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
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.
But my far bigger objection is to how uselessly abstract so much of her guidance is. She explains that she isn't going to be overly concerned with craft. Okay. But I think you have to teach someone how to build a cabinet before you go on about why carpentry matters -- why carpentry matters emerges while you're sanding the wood. Because what happens then is, page after page, she shares abstract notions about how to approach certain philosophical and ethical issues involved in memoir, and these concerns are as frustrating as reading, in a novel or memoir, "She got angry." Well, angry HOW? To be useful, you have to be concrete. Your average memoir-writer encounters most of the issues she discusses only years into the process.
And then there is this unpersuasive folksiness to her tone that feels so false and grating. I understand she came up from ordinary people in a nowhere place, and this sense of inadequacy was her biggest roadblock to writing honestly. (Her sections on this were, for me, the most meaningful.) And maybe she still says "beat my Texas ass" all the time. But it was an unpersuasive voice on the page. In a book about voice... that was a shame. (I also disagree with her about what constitutes voice. Her guidance on voice was also some of the most abstract in the book.)
As for writing style, taste is taste, but I expected more from a wordsmith and a poet. ("Adjudged" -- she loves this word so hard.) The sentences were plain, meandering, slack, full of stiffer words ("feign," "quip") than she needs. (The one big exception was the Nabokov chapter, so much so that it felt prepared for a different occasion.)
Like I say, the section on overcoming your defenses in life as a pre-requisite for honesty on the page is (almost) worth the price of entry. But this was otherwise a mediocre book. I wish Karr had taken her own advice and written a simpler, more direct, more honest book, generous in its concern with the details rather than the ethics and the philosophy.
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.