I have lately pondered writing in memoir style so I thought it would be a good idea to read The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr. I did find the book to be very educational, so much so that I am now possibly too intimidated to pursue writing a memoir of any kind. The book is very well written and Karr’s background in poetry is obvious. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:
“In those days, I still enjoyed a child’s desperate tendency to put sparkles on my whole tribe.”
“The American religion-so far as there is one anymore-seems to be doubt.”
“…for pretty much everybody, getting used to who you are is a lifelong spiritual struggle.”
“Like everybody, I suppose, people we loved broke our hearts because only they had access to them, and we broke our own hearts later by following in their footsteps and reenacting their mistakes.”
One part of the book confused me a little. In one chapter Karr strongly writes against the use of any form of dishonesty in memoir writing then in the next chapter she praises an author who used personal “myth” throughout her memoir. I am not quite certain what the difference is between lying and using myth but I imagine there is a subtle one.
Overall I give this four out of five stars. It took me a little bit to get into the serious nonfiction writing style but once I did I really enjoyed it. I recommend it to anyone who is considering writing a memoir.