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Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art, Second Edit

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Overview

Since Writing the Memoir came out in early 1997 it has sold roughly 80,000 copies and is consistently praised as "the best book on memoir out there." It is thought-provoking, explanatory, and practical: each chapter ends with writing exercises. It covers everything from questions of truth and ethics to questions of craft and the crucial retrospective voice. An appendix provides information on legal issues.

Judith Barrington, an award-winning memoir writer and acclaimed writing ...

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Overview

Since Writing the Memoir came out in early 1997 it has sold roughly 80,000 copies and is consistently praised as "the best book on memoir out there." It is thought-provoking, explanatory, and practical: each chapter ends with writing exercises. It covers everything from questions of truth and ethics to questions of craft and the crucial retrospective voice. An appendix provides information on legal issues.

Judith Barrington, an award-winning memoir writer and acclaimed writing teacher, is attuned to the forces, both external and internal, that work to stop a writer; her tone is respectful of the difficulties and encouraging of taking risks. Her nimble prose, her deep belief in the importance of this genre, and her delight in the rich array of memoirists writing today make this book more than the typical "how-to" creative writing book. In this second edition the author has added new material and reflects on issues raised since Writing the Memoir was written, early in the memoir boom.

"No student of memoir writing could fail to learn from this wise, pragmatic, and confiding book. One hears on every page the voice of an intelligent and responsive teacher, with years of thinking about memoir behind her."—Vivian Gornick

Judith Barrington is the author of Lifesaving: A Memoir and numerous individual memoirs which have been published in literary magazines and anthologies. She is the author of three volumes of poetry: Trying to Be an Honest Woman, History and Geography, and Horses and the Human Soul (forthcoming in 2002). She has taught creative writing for the past twenty years.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 1963, when poet Barrington was 19, an event sliced her life in two: the cruise ship Lakonia departed Southampton, England, with her parents aboard. Three days later, north of Madeira, a fire broke out, and 131 passengers, including her parents, were left stranded without lifeboats and drowned. (Her mother had often predicted she would die at sea, yet Barrington's father had been fond of egging his wife into sailing races and other water sports.) In this accomplished memoir, Barrington recalls the three years that followed this incident, in which she fled to a small town in northern Spain; her book doubles as the lesbian coming-out story of a young woman who must resolve her truncated relationship with her parents. Flashbacks to a lonely childhood in which she couldn't connect with either parent and particularly despised her "pigheaded" father give way to a future in which Barrington is finally able to achieve a degree of resolution around her loss. And as Barrington recounts her adventures in Catalonia, where she worked as the tour guide at a busy winery, the narrative reveals the complex ways in which she began to find, and accept, herself. Throughout, her writing is superb; she evokes smalltown Spain under Franco in lush detail with solid philosophical insight into the tragedy that changed her life: "What I had gleaned from my parents' death was not that ships are dangerous, but that what you fear most is." Among the growing number of memoirs, this is a gem. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
Barrington, a British poet and author, demonstrates her mastery of words in this coming-of-age story. Barrington's parents drowned as a result of a cruise ship fire when she was 19, and here she reflects on her search for her identity at a time when she was in denial of her parents' deaths. She goes to work in Spain, where her parents lived before she was born and where the family vacationed. The area and language are familiar to her, but she is enough of a foreigner that her somewhat strange behavior is excused. Barrington keeps herself so busy that she barely has the time or energy to deal with her loss. Finally, after three years, she is able to vent her emotions. She comes to realize how much she misses her parents and that she is not responsible for their deaths. What captivates the reader even more than the narrative is the wonderful prose the author employs in describing Spain and her life there. Recommended for all libraries.--Gina Kaiser, Univ. of the Sciences Lib., Philadelphia Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Library Journal
Seems like everyone wants to write his or her own memoirs these days. Memoirist and creative writing teacher Barrington (An Intimate Wilderness: Lesbian Writers on Sexuality, LJ 10/1/91) tells us how to do it. Her practical guide leads both experienced and novice writers through the writing process from idea to publication, addressing such technical problems as theme selection, voice, tone, form, plot, scene, and character development, as well as how to stimulate creative thinking and build necessary discipline. Barrington draws on the writings of Alice Walker, Kathleen Norris, Annie Dillard, Frank Conroy, and Virginia Woolf to illustrate her techniques. Her common-sense approach strives to temper the emotional honesty of the genre with the integrity of artistic skill. Libraries supporting a writers' group (for which Barrington includes a do's-and-don'ts section) will want several copies. Academic and school libraries might want it to supplement creative writing curriculums.Denise S. Sticha, Seton Hill Coll. Lib., Greensburg, Pa.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780933377509
  • Publisher: The Eighth Mountain Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2002
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 301,477
  • Product dimensions: 8.28 (w) x 5.38 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 11
1 What Is Memoir? 17
2 Who Cares? and Other Thoughts on Getting Started 33
3 Finding Form 47
4 The Truth: What, Why, and How? 61
5 Scene, Summary, and Musing 79
6 Moving Around in Time 93
7 Using Your Senses 107
8 Naming Names 119
9 Writing about Living People 129
10 Your Memoir and the World 139
11 Watch Out for the Myths 151
12 Getting Feedback on Your Work 161
App Your Memoir and the Law 171
Permissions Acknowledgments 177
Index of Authors and Titles 181
About the Author 187
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 19, 2009

    Good book for beginners like me.

    This book was recommended to me in a memoir writing class and I found it helpful as I begin to draft some of my memories into written form. The book includes simple writing exercises to get you started and in the habit, and also includes the basics you need to know to write from your own experiences.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted February 27, 2013

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    Posted October 12, 2009

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