Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir

Overview

An indispensable book by writers who have experienced firsthand the rewards and challenges of crafting a memoir

Anyone undertaking the project of writing a memoir knows that the events, memories, and emotions of the past often resist the orderly structure of a book. Inventing the Truth offers wisdom from nine notable memoirists about their process (Ian Frazier searched through generations of family papers to understand his parents' lives), the hurdles they faced (Annie Dillard ...

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Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir

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Overview

An indispensable book by writers who have experienced firsthand the rewards and challenges of crafting a memoir

Anyone undertaking the project of writing a memoir knows that the events, memories, and emotions of the past often resist the orderly structure of a book. Inventing the Truth offers wisdom from nine notable memoirists about their process (Ian Frazier searched through generations of family papers to understand his parents' lives), the hurdles they faced (Annie Dillard tackles the central dilemma of memoir: what to put in and what to leave out), and the unexpected joys of bringing their pasts to the page. Featured authors include Russell Baker on Growing Up; Jill Ker Conway on The Road from Coorain; Annie Dillard on An American Childhood; Ian Frazier on Family; Henry Louis Gates Jr. on Colored People; Alfred Kazin on A Walker in the City; Frank McCourt on Angela's Ashes; Toni Morrison on Beloved; and Eileen Simpson on Poets in Their Youth.

This provocative dialogue vividly examines the expanding and innovative approaches to a literary form practiced by some of our most prestigious authors. Contributors address the pleasures and challenges of accurately rendering their personal histories. Some of the authors featured include Toni Morrison, Annie Dillard, Alfred Kazin, Russell Baker, and many others.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Russell Baker, Annie Dillard, Alfred Kazin, Toni Morrison, Lewis Thomas and Zinsser ``explore the craft of memoir, defined here as a portion of a life, narrower in scope than autobiography,'' said PW of the second volume in the Writer's Craft series. (September)
Library Journal
Five writers discuss the art of memoir in talks given at the New York Public Library. Each focuses on a corner of life, but one revealing both the person and the world that shaped him or her. Annie Dillard talks of her Pittsburgh childhood and her moment of waking to the world outside. Russell Baker explains why his first draft of Growing Up was so bad that he had to start over again. Alfred Kazin finds that writing about his Brooklyn childhood connected him with the great tradition of Emerson and Whitman. Toni Morrison tells why her fiction uses not only family history but the slave narratives of her people. Lewis Thomas traces the evolution of his singular self from primeval bacteria to contemporary scientist whose drive to be useful is the most fundamental of all biological necessities. A delightful and instructive book. Milton Meltzer, New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395901502
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 5/28/1998
  • Edition description: None
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 242,873
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

William Zinsser is a writer, editior, and teacher. His fifteen books include the classic On Writing Well, which is in the sixth edition, and Writing to Learn. He lives in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Life with Mother 23
Points of Departure 41
Learning to Chill Out 61
Poets in My Youth 83
Lifting the Veil 101
The Past Breaks Out 119
To Fashion a Text 141
Looking for My Family 163
The Site of Memory 183
Bibliography 201
Contributors 223
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