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The Art of Memoir Paperback – September 6, 2016
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“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
“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
“Engaging.” -- Chicago Tribune
“Snappy and witty, humorous just when it needs to be, yet plainspoken in the best way.” -- Shelf Awareness
“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 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
“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”
“Could have been called ‘The Art of Living.’” -- San Francisco Chronicle
From the Back Cover
- Publisher : Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (September 6, 2016)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062223070
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062223074
- Item Weight : 7 ounces
- Dimensions : 0.7 x 5.2 x 7.9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #12,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- 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.