Saturday, August 31, 2013

Learning from Jo Ann Beard

I ran into this article, after reading The Boys of My Youth and wanting more about her writing process. What I love in particular is the discussion of how she handles "creative non-fiction" in the first half of the article. The second half discusses her first fiction book, In Zanesville, which is also fascinating in the whole world of what-is-memoir-what-isn't.

Listen to her read one of my favorite essays here. It's called "Behind the Screen" and is a deep dip into childhood, told in the first person present tense, which is the way I am telling my own memoir tales - so far. Sven Birkerts introduced me to her work in his wonderful memoir book called On Time in Memoir, which I cannot recommend enough. He noted the ambiguity in the reviews on the cover of her collection - some calling it "a collection of stories," some, "memoir" and the actual filing being under memoir/essays.

As I continue to explore this line, the line that so many have explored before me and will be investigating for a long time, I invite along your comments and reflections: where is fact, where is fiction in memory? What's the difference between writing for process and editing for readability?

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