Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma
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Investigations into the struggles of rendering painful memories on the page.

Acclaimed memoirist Mary Karr once said, “writing a memoir, if it’s done right, is like knocking yourself out with your own fist.” It’s difficult and especially painful to write about dark, difficult memories. Brooks’ (Professional Writing/Northeastern Univ.) own experience of trying to write a memoir about her father’s death from a secret AIDS infection had been “agonizing” and “terrifying,” so she decided to travel the country to interview and learn from memoirists whose books confronted these subjects head-on. Over and over, the authors told her that these were stories they had to write. Andre Dubus III felt he “had to pull out of the dark and hold up to the light” the story about his difficult relationship with his famous author father. After he finished Townie (2011),“it felt really good….I felt cleansed.” Sue William Silverman’s “raw and profoundly vulnerable” Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You (1996) exposed 14 years of sexual abuse she suffered while her mother remained silent and “complicit.” After poet Mark Doty’s partner of 12 years died from AIDS, he wrote Heaven’s Coast (1996): “I have not been immobilized by grief, but I have certainly carried it with me.” Edwidge Danticat’s “exquisite and heartbreaking” Brother, I’m Dying (2007), about her Haitian father and uncle, is a “powerful witness to the large-scale injustices so many immigrants face upon entering this country.” She told Brooks that it’s the “most beautiful memorial I could have created for [them].” “Gender outlaw” Kate Bornstein’s A Queer and Pleasant Danger recounts “desperately [trying] to be someone she was not” and escaping the Church of Scientology to finally find fulfillment after gender reassignment surgery. Other authors interviewed include Kim Stafford, Richard Blanco, Richard Hoffman, Kyoko Mori, and Jerald Walker.

An inspiring guide to ennobling personal stories that travel to the dark sides of life.

Pub Date: Feb. 7th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-8070-7881-5
Page count: 248pp
Publisher: Beacon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2016


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