“Each great memoir lives or dies based 100-percent on voice.”
Mary Karr, regarded as the Goddess of writing memoir by those of us hoping one day to write a memoir, has written a book called THE ART of MEMOIR (Harper). Her previous three memoirs, THE LIAR’S CLUB, CHERRY and LIT all have been best sellers and now she offers us a glimpse into the world she knows so well. Karr has taught a graduate seminar at Syracuse University for the last thirty-years and THE ART of MEMOIR is like being admitted into her class and learning the secrets of Karr’s own writing and lots of practical advise.
Karr repeatedly pounds into readers the concept of “carnality,” as being what is most important to bring to the page to make scenes come alive. That a scene needs grounding in details to appeal to the senses.
“Every memoir should brim over with physical experiences that once streamed in the smell of garlickly gumbo, your hand on animal’s fur, the ocean’s phosphor lighting up bodies underwater all acid green.”
But let’s face it, what many of us want to read in a memoir is juicy controversy and problems that went on in the life of the writer. Was mom really an alcoholic? Did dad beat the family with his belt? Did that bastard neighbor from across the street really steal the monthly check? It’s unfortunate, but happy family stories don’t sell books. We want suffering and self-exposure, betrayals, confessions, family discord and our fighting.
Of course, never is the truth to be compromised. And that’s where is gets tricky. That’s where anyone thinking about writing a memoir would be wise to pick up Mary Karr’s, THE ART of MEMOIR. It might save you a lot of headaches and perhaps some legal fees. (that’s a joke, this book does NOT offer legal advise)
For all things MARY, check out her website http://www.marykarr.com She’s also on Facebook and Twitter. If you happen to be in South Florida Nov. 14th – 22nd, check out the Miami Book Fair. Mary Karr will be on a panel discussion Saturday, November 21st @ 11:30 on the Miami Dade College Campus. Needless to say, I’m thrilled! http://www.miamibookfair.com
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