Thinking About Memoir

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Overview

If living is an art, it must be practiced with diligence before being done with ease. Yet almost nothing in our culture prepares us for reflection on the great themes of existence: courage, friendship, listening, dignity—those everyday virtues that can transform our world. Because AARP believes it’s never too late (or too early) to learn, they, together with Sterling Publishing, have created the About Living series to address these crucial issues. Each entry will be written by ...
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Thinking About Memoir

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Overview

If living is an art, it must be practiced with diligence before being done with ease. Yet almost nothing in our culture prepares us for reflection on the great themes of existence: courage, friendship, listening, dignity—those everyday virtues that can transform our world. Because AARP believes it’s never too late (or too early) to learn, they, together with Sterling Publishing, have created the About Living series to address these crucial issues. Each entry will be written by only the best authors and thinkers.
Thinking About Memoir, the first of these volumes, helps adults look back at their past and use writing as a means of figuring out who they used to be and how they became who they are today. It’s written by Abigail Thomas, whose own memoir A Three Dog Life was selected as one of the Best Books of 2006 by the LA Times and the Washington Post and called “perfectly honed” (Newsweek), “bracingly honest” (Vanity Fair), and “stunning” by the Los Angeles Book Review. Thomas writes that memoir can consist of looking back at a single summer or the span of a whole life. Through her experience as a writing teacher, she knows how difficult that can be; this book is about the habit of writing as a way to keep track of what’s going on in the front and the back of your mind. It inspires different ways for us to look at the moment we’re in right now and will help would-be memoirists find their own “side door” into a subject. Thomas writes eloquently about how to get started and find that jumping-off point for your work, and provides exercises that liberate our creativity, enable us to get the distance and perspective we need, and open our eyes to possibilities that may not at first seem obvious.
Whether your words are for publication, for your loved ones, or for you alone, Thomas makes the process fulfilling, thoughtful, and even fun.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

This book, part memoir and part how-to, promotes the idea that writing helps us capture our past in order to live more meaningfully in the present. Thomas, author of the memoir Three Dog Life, daughter of physician and essayist Lewis Thomas, and a writing teacher, offers glimpses of her own life as she encourages readers to write about theirs. She devotes a chapter to the benefits of memoir writing, then offers suggestions on how to make writing a habit. One way is to carry a notebook so that one can constantly write down thoughts and activities. In the chapter on memory, she explores some of her own, revealing details about her husband's car crash and resulting traumatic brain injury. Also, she points out the role of scent in recalling past events. In her case, the characteristic medicinal smell of Noxema brings back memories of her adolescence. The overall effect is motivation and inspiration. She makes memoir writing seem a worthwhile, achievable goal by introducing thought-provoking exercises such as "Write two pages about what you no longer find funny" and "What waits in ambush?" This first volume in the "Arts of Living" series from AARP will appeal to would-be writers and those wishing to encourage their own creativity and live more intensely. Recommended for large public collections.
—Nancy R. Ives

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402752353
  • Publisher: Sterling
  • Publication date: 4/1/2008
  • Series: AARP Series
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 4.30 (w) x 7.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2008

    A reviewer

    This book was highlighted by AARP and the article prompted me to purchase it. The 100 pages of text left me feeling as it I had just gained a new friend. It is as open and candid as the discussions that one might have on a long distance flight or train trip with a person in the next seat. I purchased the book to gain insight into writing a memoir, but found I was annoyed by the writing assignments that were interjected at frequent intervals in bold type. Finally I stop reading the suggested assignments and settled into the narrative. The book is a sort of journal, but has the underlying motive of inspiring the reader to write their own thoughts to help determine who they are and where they are in their life. Abigail Thomas is a person I think I would like having as a friend and neighbor with whom I would enjoy sharing a cup of coffee or glass of tea while sitting on the deck on a summer's day. I know her suggested assignments are still there for me to reference in the future.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    First Mine for gold, then Write Memoir

    Great things come in small packages, so Abigail Thomas gets kudos for a job well done. She is honest, funny, and tells on herself, which, I believe, is the best way to teach.

    Thomas' rambling style of instruction isn't so much about technique as it is about giving us stimulating exercises that sometimes seem to come out of nowhere, but result in remarkable insight on how to write memoir well.
    The guide, at just 108 pages, is so packed with activities that a writing instructor could use it for a semester-long course and still not exhausted all of Thomas' unique ideas. Let's suffice it to say she's a delightful task master. From the beginning when she asks us to write three word sentences so we have nowhere to hide and our writing won't take up extra space to asking us to write two pages of what we don't remember sheds a lot of light on her brand of Thinking about Memoir.

    If we aren't afraid to dig deep, zero in on details, write an honest account, make a habit out of writing, and learn to invent our own structure, this book is a gold mine.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2008

    Thought provoking

    I really loved this book --- Ms. Thomas writes with such depth, charm, and humor. She makes one truly want to buy a diary and start writing ---- two pages on various topics. This is an excellent read ---and it makes you think about your life --- before and what's ahead.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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