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I Could Tell You Storiesby Patricia Hampl
This book of essays, focusing on the idea of memoir and memory, fell into my hands rather by accident; I started reading somewhat casually and was very happily drawn in. Hampl's voice is lovely: elegant and clear, she works through the concepts of identity and memory in intelligent, honest, and subtle ways. Examining past great memoirists and poets, like Sylvia Plath, Edith Stein and Walt Whitman, she offers balanced readings that look at the effects of memoir on our culture and the documentation of memory. She also discusses events and people in her own life as she conducts her own search for a defining identity both personal and political, with a poet's grace and a philosopher's sense of logic. I'm not usually a big fan of memoir; I rarely read biography at all. But Hampl makes a strong case for the necessity and relevance of memoir, claiming that "there may be no more pressing intellectual need in our culture than for people to become sophisticated about the function of memory." After reading the essays in
Synopses & Reviews
In this timely gathering, Patricia Hampl, one of our most elegant practitioners, "weaves personal stories and grand ideas into shimmering bolts of prose" () as she explores the autobiographical writing that has enchanted or bedeviled her. Subjects engaging Hampl's attention include her family's response to her writing, the ethics of writing about family and friends, St. Augustine's , reflections on reading Walt Whitman during the Vietnam War, and an early experience reviewing Sylvia Plath. The word that unites the impulse within all the pieces is "Remember!"--a command that can be startling. For to remember is to make a pledge: to the indelible experience of personal perception, and to history itself.
Memoir has become the signature genre of our age.
In this "searching, reverent, humorous, (and) intent on knowing" ("Women's Review of Books") collection of personal stories, Hampl touches on such subjects as her family's response to her writing, the ethics of writing about family and friends, and an early experience reviewing Sylvia Plath. "Rich and idiosyncratic prose".--"New York Times Book Review".
About the Author
Patricia Hampl, Regents' Professor at the University of Minnesota, lives in St. Paul.
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