Category: Books, Reading

  • In Reluctant Defense of Women’s Fiction

    Eight years ago, Carlene Cross advised writers to read one hundred books in the genre in which they wanted to write. I read one hundred memoirs, posted them on this blog, and five long years later Plicata Press published my award-winning memoir, A Long Way from Paris. Writing a memoir is hard, excruciating at times, so […]

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  • Notes


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  • Why would anyone write a memoir?

    I sometimes wonder why on earth I wanted to write a memoir. Why would anyone want to delve into personal tragedies, pain, struggles. Or, be honest. Be vulnerable. Who wants that? When I first pitched my story about living off the grid in the mountains of southern France, an agent said, “Oh no. It must be more – how you […]

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  • One Year Later

         I’ve reflected on the most powerful memoirs, the ones that stick like oatmeal, those memoirs I’ll always remember.  I loved discovering new books for this project, like my new favorite author, Geoff Dyer. His memoir, which only loosely fits the genre, is Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with DH Lawrence. I like Dyers wit, and in fact, his wit and […]

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  • Stepping into the Morass: MFA vs. non-MFA

    Memoirists in blog: Nestor, Sparks, King, Conroy, Patchett, Grealy, Beard Now that I’ve  Read 100 Memoirs in order to write one, I’ve begun to understand the range of memoirs in America’s literary world. I’ve also seen divisions, a blurred definition of “literary,” and people asking if memoir has any value as a genre at all. Some cite St. […]

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  • Life in the South of France

    To my new readers, this blog reflects my reading 100 Memoirs as an exercise in writing one memoir. “To write well,” my instructor stated, I should “read one hundred books in my genre.”  I’ve completed my memoir currently titled, On the Mountains of Languedoc, which I revise and revise.  In the meantime, my reading continues. I’m […]

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  • Honest

    So many books, so many superb memoirs. I recently read two classics, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, a Pulitzer finalist, and In Pharaoh’s Army by Tobias Wolff. Both men write with clear, distinctive voices which most writers dream of acquiring. Both have a subtle sense of humor; both are earnest and self-effacing. […]

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  • Tahiti

    When you notice a blogger hasn’t written from December through April, you may presume they’re in Tahiti. Or Fiji. Or some equally remote, romantic hide away. But, no I’ve been right here, mostly, at home, writing, tending my family, and watching the pages on the calendar fly by. I’ve started teaching two classes at the […]

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  • Old Fashioned

    Although Betty MacDonald’s old homestead is virtually around the corner from my home in Washington state, I grew up three thousand miles away in Holyoke, Massachusetts where I savored MacDonald’s Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books. I read the same stories to my daughter. I laughed uncontrollably at the Fred McMurray movie, based on her memoir.  So, I was a […]

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  • Ease

    When memoirists emphasize their childhood suffering (Lit, Glass Castle, Running with Scissors, and so on), we cheer as narrators extricate themselves from unimaginably gruesome settings.  Poignant, profound, truthful, these memoirs make fascinating reads. But, it was a relief to read an equally honest story from a narrator who was neither abused nor neglected, and in […]

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