Synopses & Reviews
With an introduction by Dave Eggers, this guide by the founders of 826 Valencia features anecdotes and advice from dozens of bestselling memoirists
The best way to learn about writing a memoir is from the masters of the form. In The Autobiographer’s Handbook, dozens of the best memoirists in the world explain their methods, struggles, inspirations, and strategies in the most unique writing guide on the market today.
Founded by author Dave Eggers and veteran teacher Nínive Calegari, 826 Valencia operates seven nonprofit writing centers nationwide. Only The Autobiographer’s Handbook—the first in a planned series of 826 Valencia writing guides—features the prominent, published authors who have shared their secrets at 826 workshops and who now bring their best advice to the page. Participants include Frank McCourt, Tobias Wolff, A. J. Jacobs, Alison Smith, Art Spiegelman, Anthony Swofford, David Rakoff, Elizabeth Gilbert, Nick Flynn, Sarah Vowell, Steve Almond, and many more.
Eggers’s introduction encourages all to write their stories, if not for publication, then for the benefit of their children and grandchildren. The book offers lighthearted sidebars (“History’s Strangest Actual Memoirs,” “The Nom de Plume Generator,” and “Childhood Tragedies Unlikely to Move the Reader”) to keep readers engaged and writing assignments to keep them working toward their goal. The Autobiographer’s Handbook is like having coffee with dozens of your bestselling memoirist friends (and a drill instructor), and it will be the writing guide for aspiring memoirists of all ages for years to come.
"Put out by 826 Valencia, the San Francisco-based nonprofit Eggers started to provide creative writing instruction for middle and high school students, this book presents straightforward, practical ideas and advice from a double-handful of contemporary writers. Edited by memoirist Traig (Devil in the Details), a longtime 826 Valencia tutor, it's comprised largely of excerpts from wide-ranging, insightful round-table discussions among nonfiction practitioners like Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love), Nick Hornby (Housekeeping vs. the Dirt), Frank McCourt (Angela's Ashes) and Sarah Vowell (Assassination Vacation). To find the right topic, for example, Gus Lee (China Boy) suggests you 'write about the biggest, scariest darn elephant in the living room of your soul.' To decide which elements to edit, Laura Fraser (An Italian Affair) says, 'nobody cares if you go to yoga on Tuesdays... unless it will contribute to the story or to the character that is you.' Besides lessons on celebrating the ordinary and the importance of humor, contributors also offer ways to push through the inevitable writer's block and handle miffed family and friends. Their guidance, complemented by writing exercises and work plans, should prove useful, informative and motivating for writers at just about any level." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Created by the founders of 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writers' organization, this guide features advice from dozens of prominent memoirists who have shared their secrets at 826 workshops, including Frank McCourt, Tobias Wolff, and A.J. Jacobs, along with an Introduction by 826 Valencia co-founder Dave Eggers.
The best way to learn about writing a memoir is from the masters of the form, and now dozens of the best memoirists in the world explain their methods, struggles, inspirations, and strategies in the most unique writing guide on the market today.
At last—the contemporary masters of memoir have come together to reveal their strategies and impart their advice. This book contains an unprecedented wealth of knowledge in one place.
In The Autobiographers Handbook, youre invited to a roundtable discussion with todays most successful memoirists. Let Nick Hornby show you how the banal can be brilliant. Elizabeth Gilbert will teach you to turn pain into prose. Want to beat procrastination? Steve Almond has the answer. Learn about memory triggers (Ishmael Beah: music) and warm-up exercises (Jonathan Ames: internet backgammon). These writers may not always agree (on research: Tobias Wolff, yes, Frank McCourt, no) but whether youre a blossoming writer or a veteran wordsmith, this book will help anyone who has ever dreamed of putting their story on paper, on writing themselves into existence.
Featuring: STEVE ALMOND • JONATHAN AMES • ISHMAEL BEAH • ELIZABETH GILBERT • NICK HORNBY • A. J. JACOBS • MAXINE HONG KINGSTON • PHILLIP LOPATE • FRANK MCCOURT • DAVID RAKOFF • ESMERALDA SANTIAGO • JULIA SCHEERES • ART SPIEGELMAN • ANTHONY SWOFFORD • SARAH VOWELL • SEAN WILSEY • TOBIAS WOLFF • AND MANY MORE
About the Author
is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco dedicated to supporting students aged six to eighteen with their writing skills. The first center opened in 2002 and since then, more than 10,000 volunteers have donated their time, with 826 centers springing up in New York, L.A., Ann Arbor, Chicago, and Seattle; 826 Boston will open in the fall of 2007. All proceeds from this book will benefit the 826 centers.
Jennifer Traig, a longtime 826 tutor and workshop teacher, is the author of two memoirs—the forthcoming Well Enough Alone and Devil in the Details (2004). She holds a Ph.D. in literature, and her work has appeared in The New York Times, JANE, The Observer (London), and the San Francisco Chronicle.