“For everybody has a past, and every past spawns fierce and fiery emotions about what it means. So this books mainly for that person with an inner life as big as Lake Superior and a passion for the watery element of memory.”
After reading “The Liars Club” by Mary Karr, I was unsure as to whether I would like this one or not. Unable to deny that her prose was whip-smart, rip-roaring, utterly unique and arresting. And yet, having found the story she told in Liars Club, while unique and compelling, at times confusing and whiplash-inducing. However, “The Art of Memoir” knocked my socks off. How thrilled and thankful am I, having happened across such at Book and Bar, one of my favorite cafes for cozying. Snatching up the sole copy, in large part for the $6 price tag, though also because I found myself previously mesmerized by this authors prose. I wondered if this book might resonate more so than Liars Club, as a hopeful, would-be, budding author (and of true life stories as well) myself.
Karr is one of the most talented writers I have ever had the pleasure of reading and experiencing. There is no one else like her, akin to in the world of acting, how there is no one like Jim Carey. These people, each a unique standalone in their field. This is Mary Karr in the realm of books.
Whether you wish to write a memoir or not, this is a book worthy of hunkering down with. As long as one is smitten with the act and art of writing, with the moment of putting pen to paper, “The Art of Memoir” will most certainly be your bag. Unsure whether or not memoir might be for you? In the words of Karr:
“Unless you’re a doubter and a worrier, a nail-biter, an apologizer, a rethinker, than memoir may not be your playpen. That’s the quality I’ve found most consistently in those life-story writers I’ve met. Truth is not their enemy. Its the banister they grab hold for when feeling around on the dark cellar stairs.”
This book is rife with metaphoric language, poetic prose, and poignant passages. Her writing leaps off the page and smacks you awake, leaving one utterly captivated and raring to go. Karr knows how to kick up the dust in your heart, and she plays at it beautifully in this phenomenal and inspiring read.
The book is broken into various chapters, honing in on differing aspects of memoir and true life writing. From the importance of voice, as well as how one doesn’t have to go searching for such. That voice is what comes naturally to each and every one of us. She talks about the nuances of truth and memory, as well as the art of choosing details, and even whether or not to include sexuality in your writings (hint: do. Its one of the focal points and life forces of human experience).
She talks about the dilemma of dealing with the beloved (or acquaintances), both on and off the page, as in, how much do you reveal about those you know (or not), in both flattering and unflattering ways. She informs on the use of facts and data, as well as advises on blind spots, and her opinion on why some memoirs fail (and thus, how one might avoid such).
What really urges ones attention in this book though is her writing style, which as already praised on, is stellar. For anyone who is striving towards being a better writer, Mary Karr is required reading. Karr is a wildly talented, bad-ass writer and woman. She is a writer whose work I have immensely enjoyed, as well as been inspired and riveted by. She is one who will help with unlocking the doors and flinging open such, to reveal the truth and writer lying in wait within each of you.
To read a bit more about Mary Karr, check out her website here.