Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Memoir Mind Round-Up

And More, Atlanta GA 2011

Help me celebrate a full year of this blog being online!

What this post IS:
The best of what I read (could be published this year, could not be)
A list that focuses on my particular slant: mindfulness in memoir and seeing the writer's mind
An extension of my page that lists recommended memoirs and books about memoir

What this post is NOT: 
An industry summation
A list of what was published this year
A conclusive list of all I read of/about memoir this year

On to my round-up for 2013

There are many, many intriguing debates and discussions about memoir out there on the internet.
What keeps staying with me or has dramatically shaped me follows.

The Draft column in the NYT has featured a LOT of posts about memoir this year.
When Writers Expose the Dead
Confessions of a Serial Memoirist
How Memoirists Mold the Truth
The Essay, An Exercise in Doubt
The Body Under the Rug
Writing About What Haunts Us

Also NYT but not draft: Beware Social Nostalgia (or personal!)
TED Talk: Danger of a Single Story
Susan Piver blog post on solidifying stories versus liberating stories
Why Some Memoirs Are Better As Fiction
Ursula K. LeGuin on why we can't be too lenient with memoirists and fact/fiction Writing Tips from National Association of Memoir Writers
Memoir Writing Tips from KR Pooler


Books About Memoir:
The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Cruel Parenting - Alice Miller (one section explores writers and how we can see their core issues in what they wrote - moreso - how they wrote).
Toxic Feedback: Helping Writers Survive and Thrive – Joni Cole (fantastic advice, awful title)
The Art of Time in Memoir: Then, Again (Sven Birkerts) (amazing multi-faceted exploration of memoirs and writing memoir)
Shut Up and Write! – Judy Bridges (mostly for fiction writers, but great resources for structuring)
Write: Ten Days to Overcome Writer’s Block. Period. – Karen E. Peterson (again, bad title but super helpful book - especially when it comes to inner conflict about writing/not writing)
Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir – William Zissner, editor (pithy, powerful words from folks like Annie Dillard about writing memoir)
Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir – Beth Kephart (some lyrical writing, lots of exercises and great insight into teaching and writing memoir)
The Getaway Car – Ann Patchett (not about memoir but directly applicable - powerful statements about the process of writing and how much courage it takes to get from ideas to real writing)
Writing Life Stories: How to Make Memories Into Memoir, Ideas Into Essays and Life Into Literature - Bill Roorbach (lots of great exercises and reflections)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou (This classic is powerful and rich)
Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother - James McBride (ditto)
Through the Door of Life: a Jewish Journey Between Genders - Joy Ladin (I read a lot of "trans memoirs" - this is a fantastically lyrical and real account of transitioning male to female later in life)
Wild - Cheryl Strayed (uber popular - I found it very readable but not profound)
Chronology of Water - Lidia Yuknavitch (the editing is uneven, but the directness is powerful)
Zen Under Fire: How I Found Peace in the Midst of War - Marianne Elliot (more an account of her relationships - both to practice and to people - than literary style, but solid and riveting writing)
Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity - Kerry Cohen (This memoir was the first "sex memoir" I read that truly touched me and changed my view of how to write about sexuality)
Just Breathe Normally - Peggy Shumaker (a rigorous - at times academic - and incredibly lyrical exploration of a single event - an accident - in one person's life and how it ripples outward)
What Becomes You - Aaron Raz Link and Hilda Raz (an unusual structure and also topic - a mother/trans son memoir that revolves from her voice to his chapter to chapter)
Boys of My Youth - Jo Ann Beard (memoir essays, not "a memoir" - an uneven collection, but those that punch are worth it)
Holy Ghost Girl - Donna M. Johnson (an equinimity-filled memoir about growing up in a very unusual and semi-famous situation)
The Turquoise Ledge: A Memoir - Leslie Marmon Silko (eco-memoir by the author of Ceremony)
Paris, France - Gertrude Stein (goofy, full of opinions, important unusual writing style and voice)
French Lessons: A Memoir - Alice Kaplan (I read this years ago and related to a lot of it - reading it again, it punched me wide open, especially the first half about her father's death and growing up)
Sh*t My Dad Says - Justin Halpern (hilarious, sometimes offensive or questionable, often deeply insightful)

I hope you keep reading, writing, questioning and exploring memoir with me here in 2014.


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