The Autobiographer's Handbook: The 826 National Guide to Writing Your Memoir

Overview

At last?the contemporary masters of memoir have come together to reveal their strategies and impart their advice. This book contains an unprecedented wealth of knowledge in one place.

In The Autobiographers Handbook, you?re invited to a roundtable discussion with today?s most successful memoirists. Let Nick Hornby show you how the banal can be brilliant. Elizabeth Gilbert will teach you to turn pain into prose. Want to beat procrastination? Steve Almond has the answer. Learn ...

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The Autobiographer's Handbook: The 826 National Guide to Writing Your Memoir

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Overview

At last—the contemporary masters of memoir have come together to reveal their strategies and impart their advice. This book contains an unprecedented wealth of knowledge in one place.

In The Autobiographers Handbook, you’re invited to a roundtable discussion with today’s most successful memoirists. Let Nick Hornby show you how the banal can be brilliant. Elizabeth Gilbert will teach you to turn pain into prose. Want to beat procrastination? Steve Almond has the answer. Learn about memory triggers (Ishmael Beah: music) and warm-up exercises (Jonathan Ames: internet backgammon). These writers may not always agree (on research: Tobias Wolff, yes, Frank McCourt, no) but whether you’re a blossoming writer or a veteran wordsmith, this book will help anyone who has ever dreamed of putting their story on paper, on writing themselves into existence.

Featuring: STEVE ALMOND • JONATHAN AMES • ISHMAEL BEAH • ELIZABETH GILBERT • NICK HORNBY • A. J. JACOBS • MAXINE HONG KINGSTON • PHILLIP LOPATE • FRANK MCCOURT • DAVID RAKOFF • ESMERALDA SANTIAGO • JULIA SCHEERES • ART SPIEGELMAN • ANTHONY SWOFFORD • SARAH VOWELL • SEAN WILSEY • TOBIAS WOLFF • AND MANY MORE

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Put out by 826 Valencia, the San Francisco-based nonprofit Eggers started to provide creative writing instruction for middle and high school students, this book presents straightforward, practical ideas and advice from a double-handful of contemporary writers. Edited by memoirist Traig (Devil in the Details), a longtime 826 Valencia tutor, it's comprised largely of excerpts from wide-ranging, insightful round-table discussions among nonfiction practitioners like Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love), Nick Hornby (Housekeeping vs. the Dirt), Frank McCourt (Angela's Ashes) and Sarah Vowell (Assassination Vacation). To find the right topic, for example, Gus Lee (China Boy) suggests you "write about the biggest, scariest darn elephant in the living room of your soul." To decide which elements to edit, Laura Fraser (An Italian Affair) says, "nobody cares if you go to yoga on Tuesdays... unless it will contribute to the story or to the character that is you." Besides lessons on celebrating the ordinary and the importance of humor, contributors also offer ways to push through the inevitable writer's block and handle miffed family and friends. Their guidance, complemented by writing exercises and work plans, should prove useful, informative and motivating for writers at just about any level.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805087130
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/2/2008
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 458,190
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 10.88 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

826 Valencia is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco dedicated to supporting students aged six to eighteen with their writing skills. The first center opened in 2002 and since then, more than 10,000 volunteers have donated their time, with 826 centers springing up in New York, L.A., Ann Arbor, Chicago, and Seattle; 826 Boston will open in the fall of 2007. All proceeds from this book will benefit the 826 centers.

Jennifer Traig, a longtime 826 tutor and workshop teacher, is the author of two memoirs—the forthcoming Well Enough Alone and Devil in the Details (2004). She holds a Ph.D. in literature, and her work has appeared in The New York Times, JANE, The Observer (London), and the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

The Brain Trust 11

Ch. I Meeting Your Muse 21

Ch. II Precursors to the Past 37

Ch. III You vs. Page One 53

Ch. IV Lines, Curves, and Tangents 69

Ch. V Methods for Movement 91

Ch. VI Trimming the Fact 103

Ch. VII Memories May Differ 113

Ch. VIII You Contain Multitudes 137

Ch. IX Getting the Joke 145

Ch. X Writing through Pain 151

Ch. XI The Facts vs. the Truth 157

Ch. XII Lost in the Labyrinth 169

Ch. XIII The End of You (For Now) 175

Ch. XIV Getting It Out There 181

Bonus Chapter: From the Mind, to the Internet, to the Book, to You 201

Conclusion 213

Appendix

A Personal History of the Memoir 217

History's Strangest Actual Memoirs 223

Actual Memoir Titles Considered and Rejected 227

Recommended Reading 229

About 826 National 241

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