The author of several bestselling memoirs gives us a look under the hood. What makes a successful memoir? How does one handle the wily beast of memory? Karr elegantly dissects several well-known memoirs and gives clear examples of why they work so well. She also discusses her own work and writing process. Recommended By Mary Jo S., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Credited with sparking the current memoir explosion, Mary Karr's The Liars' Club
spent more than a year at the top of the New York Times
list. She followed with two other smash bestsellers: Cherry
, which were critical hits as well.
For thirty years Karr has also taught the form, winning graduate teaching prizes for her highly selective seminar at Syracuse, where she mentored such future acclaimed authors as Cheryl Strayed, Keith Gessen, and Koren Zailckas. In The Art of Memoir, she synthesizes her expertise as professor and therapy patient, writer and spiritual seeker, recovered alcoholic and "black-belt sinner," providing a unique window into the mechanics and art of the form that is as irreverent, insightful, and entertaining as her own work in the genre.
Anchored by excerpts from her favorite memoirs and anecdotes from fellow writers' experience, The Art of Memoir lays bare Karr's own process. (Plus all those inside stories about how she dealt with family and friends get told — and the dark spaces in her own skull probed in depth.) As she breaks down the key elements of great literary memoir, she breaks open our concepts of memory and identity, and illuminates the cathartic power of reflecting on the past; anybody with an inner life or complicated history, whether writer or reader, will relate.
Joining such classics as Stephen King's On Writing and Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, The Art of Memoir is an elegant and accessible exploration of one of today's most popular literary forms — a tour de force from an accomplished master pulling back the curtain on her craft.
"Karr is a national treasure that rare genius who's also a brilliant teacher. This joyful celebration of memoir packs transcendent insights with trademark hilarity. Anyone yearning to write will be inspired, and anyone passionate to live an examined life will fall in love with language and literature all over again." George Saunders
"Mary Karr has written another astonishingly perceptive, wildly entertaining, and profoundly honest book-funny, fascinating, necessary. The Art of Memoir will be the definitive book on reading and writing memoir for years to come." Cheryl Strayed
"Karr's sassy Texas wit and her down-to-earth observations about both the memoir form and how to approach it combine to make for lively and inspiring reading. A generous and singularly insightful examination of memoir." Kirkus Reviews
"Enlightening….Fresh and heartfelt….Instructs and inspires through example and a love for the art of memoir." Library Journal, starred review
"A master class on the art of the memoir." New York Times Book Review, Top 10 Notable Book Citation
About the Author
Mary Karr is a Guggenheim Fellow in poetry. She has won Pushcart Prizes for both verse and essays, and is the Peck Professor of Literature at Syracuse University. Her previous two memoirs, The Liars' Club and Cherry, were New York Times bestsellers.