Art of Memoir

I can’t remember the last time a how-to book was this fun to read. What started as a course syllabus for a memoir writing class Mary Karr teaches at Syracuse, fleshed out into a fantastic book about writing, self-reflection, memory, narrative and the power of personal story telling.

My favorite bits of this book are the parts when Karr picks an author, a book, or a style and uses it explicate an idea. Her talents in writing and teaching are on display in these moments, as she dives deep in Nabokov, or tears apart Frey or Mortenson, or lavishes praise on Michael Herr. It made for the best kind of annotated bibliography for someone like me, who is very interested in this genre.

Karr’s voice makes her sound like someone with whom I’d just love to hang out. But behind her easy writing, jokes, and sage advice is a lifetime’s worth of wisdom about honesty, truth, and telling your life’s story.