Review: The Art of Memoir

The Art of Memoir
The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mary Karr is a writer and professor who teaches memoir writing so it is not surprising that this book reads as a self-directed course in how to get started thinking about and writing your memoir. Karr asks: Do you have a story to tell? Do you have perspective? Are you compelled to record this story, and to share it? Who is your audience? How will telling your story help the reader?

Quotes and thoughts I liked:
p. xvi: [about reading memoir] “I just felt less lonely. In some animistic way, I believed they were talking . . . only to me.”

p.xvii: “Think of that family meal we’ve all had when each person’s colliding version of an event ricochets off every other. You weren’t even born when that happened. At such a meal, I may defend my own account like a wolf on her turf, but lying awake later, I’ll often feel the creeping suspicion I’m wrong.”

p. 36: “A great voice renders the dullest event remarkable.”

Overall, I found this a potentially very useful book. Still, the tone of most of the text is teacherly, (which makes sense), and I missed the foul-mouthed sassy person from the Preface.

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