Synopses & Reviews
Twenty years ago Natalie Goldberg's classic, Writing Down the Bones
, broke new ground in its approach to writing as a practice. Now, Old Friend from Far Away
-- her first book since Writing Down the Bones
to focus solely on writing -- reaffirms Goldberg's status as a foremost teacher of writing, and completely transforms the practice of writing memoir.
To write memoir, we must first know how to remember. Through timed, associative, and meditative exercises, Old Friend from Far Away guides you to the attentive state of thought in which you discover and open forgotten doors of memory. At once a beautifully written celebration of the memoir form, an innovative course full of practical teachings, and a deeply affecting meditation on consciousness, love, life, and death, Old Friend welcomes aspiring writers of all levels and encourages them to find their unique voice to tell their stories.
Goldberg's enormously popular workshops have given countless students the ability to heed the call to write. Old Friend from Far Away recreates her trademark workshop style with its terse, demanding writing "sprints" that train the hand and mind to quicken their pace and give up conscious control. These exercises divert the eye from the obvious and redirect it to the tactile details we miss, the embarrassments we pass over, and the complications we overlook in the blur of everyday living. Goldberg writes, "No one says it, but writing induces the state of love." Old Friend from Far Away guides us into that state of love, where heightened attention and a rhythm of focus allow the patterns and details of the past to emerge on the page.
Millions of Americans want to write about their lives. With Old Friend as the road map for getting started and following through, writers and readers will gain a deeper understanding of their own minds, learn to connect with their senses in order to find the detail and truth that give their written words power and authenticity, and unfold the natural structure of the stories they carry within. An absolute joy to read, it is a profound affirmation of the capacity of the written word to remember the past, free us from it, and forever transform theway we think about ourselves and our lives. Like Writing Down the Bones, it will become an old friend to which readers return again and again.
"A writer -- both energized and enlightened." -- Julia Cameron, author of andlt;iandgt;The Artist's Wayandlt;/iandgt;
"A celebration of the memoir form...an impassioned call to write, delivered by an author who knows how to zero in on the truth, and lead others there as well. If you're serious about finding that voice inside yourself, Natalie Goldberg is a teacher you have to meet." -- Steve Almond, author of andlt;iandgt;Candyfreakandlt;/iandgt; and andlt;iandgt;(Not That You Asked)andlt;/iandgt;
"An invaluable addition to any writer's (or reader's) bookshelf. Each new chapter is another gift, unlocking the mystery of the story of the human heart. There isn't a better approach to memoir. Beautifully written, this book is for everyone." -- Robert Wilder, author of andlt;iandgt;Daddy Needs a Drinkandlt;/iandgt; and andlt;iandgt;Tales from the Teachers' Loungeandlt;/iandgt;
"The brilliance of this book is that it immediately gets you writing your story. It opens the inner treasure and the inner zoo, makes you wriggle and weep, pawn the family jewels, laugh out loud, tear down memory lane, and reawaken to the mystery of your own life." -- Jack Kornfield, author of andlt;iandgt;A Path with Heartandlt;/iandgt;
"Natalie Goldberg doesn't fool around. The moment I started reading her new book, I found myself compelled to follow her lead. She's a master and this book is a must-read for anyone who even thinks about putting pen to page." -- Cheryl Richardson, author of andlt;iandgt;The Unmistakable Touch of Graceandlt;/iandgt; and andlt;iandgt;Take Time for Your Lifeandlt;/iandgt;
"A richly abundant how-to book full of deep personal insight and practical go-get-'em. Memoir writers, buy this book, put it on your personal altar, or carry it with you as you traverse the deep ruts of your old road. Really, this book could save your life." -- Tom Spanbauer, author of andlt;iandgt;The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moonandlt;/iandgt;
"For any writer of memoirs . . . a must-read."—Publishers Weekly
"[Family Trouble is] a well-balanced panoply of family-centric musings from authors conflicted between responsibility and retribution."—Kirkus
"Writers of memoir will find this book helpful in thinking through their own decisions; readers of memoir will be interested in understanding the anguish that goes on behind the scenes."—Laurie Hertzel, Star Tribune
“The writers in Joy Castros Family Trouble
tell moving stories that probe the ethics of our choices and their consequences when we write about our family members. I know Ill be recommending this book to my students for years to come.”—Lee Martin, author of Such a Life
and From Our House
“What a valuable anthology! And how many times over the years I have taught creative nonfiction would I have reached for this anthology, with its testimonies to the fine lines these writers have drawn, and crossed, and recrossed, and regretted, and celebrated.”—Mary Clearman Blew, author of This Is Not the Ivy League
“If youve ever written or considered writing about family, or if you are the family that has been written about, this book is your bible.”—Kim Barnes, author of In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country
"Those who are writing in the genre would benefit greatly from these authors' self-questions, doubts, and concerns for others whose silences they have broken."—Lavona Reeves, Great Plains Quarterly
Twenty years ago Natalie Goldbergand#8217;s classic, andlt;iandgt;Writing Down the Bonesandlt;/iandgt;, broke new ground in its approach to writing as a practice. Now, andlt;iandgt;Old Friend from Far Awayandlt;/iandgt;and#8212;her first book since andlt;iandgt;Writing Down the Bonesandlt;/iandgt; to focus solely on writingand#8212;reaffirms Goldbergand#8217;s status as a foremost teacher of writing, and completely transforms the practice of writing memoir.andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;To write memoir, we must first know how to remember. Through timed, associative, and meditative exercises, andlt;Iandgt;Old Friend from Far Away andlt;/Iandgt;guides you to the attentive state of thought in which you discover and open forgotten doors of memory. At once a beautifully written celebration of the memoir form, an innovative course full of practical teachings, and a deeply affecting meditation on consciousness, love, life, and death, andlt;Iandgt;Old Friend from Far Away andlt;/Iandgt;welcomes aspiring writers of all levels and encourages them to find their unique voice to tell their stories. Like andlt;Iandgt;Writing Down the Bonesandlt;/Iandgt;, it will become an old friend to which readers return again and again.
Whenever a memoirist gives a reading, someone in the audience is sure to ask: How did your family react? Revisiting our pasts and exploring our experiences, we often reveal more of our nearest and dearest than they might prefer. This volume navigates the emotional and literary minefields that any writer of family stories or secrets must travel when depicting private lives for public consumption.
Essays by twenty-five memoirists, including Faith Adiele, Alison Bechdel, Jill Christman, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Rigoberto González, Robin Hemley, Dinty W. Moore, Bich Minh Nguyen, and Mimi Schwartz, explore the fraught territory of family history told from one perspective, which, from another angle in the family drama, might appear quite different indeed. In her introduction to this book, Joy Castro, herself a memoirist, explores the ethical dilemmas of writing about family and offers practical strategies for this tricky but necessary subject.
A sustained and eminently readable lesson in the craft of memoir, Family Trouble serves as a practical guide for writers to find their own version of the truth while still respecting family boundaries.
About the Author
Natalie Goldberg is a poet, teacher, and the author of eleven books, including her classic, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within--which has sold more than a million and a half copies and has been translated into fourteen languages--Wild Mind, Long Quiet Highway, Living Color, and The Great Failure. She has taught seminars for thirty years to people from around the world, and lives in northern New Mexico.
Table of Contents
Read this Introduction
Note to Reader
No One Has Ever Died
The Four-Letter Word
...What's in Front of You
Test III -- I Remember
Wild at Heart
Zora Neal Hurston
Just Sitting -- or Do the Neola
Hard and Soft
More Than Ten Minutes
Jimmy Santiago Baca
...Hand and Wrist
Sex -- or Money
...At the Edge
Half 'n Half
The Topic of Topics
Inventory of Good-bye
...October Thirty First
...The Big Continent
Guidelines and Suggestions for Writing Memoir
Some Great Memoirs to Read