The Art of Memoir
by Mary Karr
$24.99 List Price
Teaching writers to record their life stories involves no small amount of hand-holding—and for good reason. Even after years of journaling or jotting down passing thoughts, the act of sharing your first-person stories with the world can feel like a kind of perversion, like sweating all over someone’s couch or coughing into the clam dip at a cocktail party. On the wrong day, even popular writers’ rallying cries—such as Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird or Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones—feel like gorgeously embossed invitations to spread your germs far and wide.
Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir (Harper, $25) does not share this tone of gentle enticement. Although Karr’s book will doubtless be used in creative-nonfiction classes, her tract abandons the “Just do it!” school of scribe-coaching in favor of a more
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