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The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr, published September 2015 by Harper
Book beginning, Ch. 1, The Past's Vigor
At unexpected points in life, everyone gets waylaid by the colossal force of recollection. One minute you're a grown-ass woman, then a whiff of cumin conjures your dad's curry, and a whole door to the past blows open, ushering an uncanny detail. There are traumatic memories that ride u unbidden and dwarf you where you stand. But there are also memories you dig for: you start with a clear fix on a tiny instant, and pick at every knot until a thin thread comes undone that you can follow back through the mind's labyrinth to other places. We''ve all interrogated ourselves -- It couldn't have been Christmas because we had shorts on in the snapshot. Such memories start by being figured out, but the useful ones eventually gain enough traction to haul you through the past.Page 56:
Trying to catalogue Nabakov's talents would take a library, and yet not to call out Speak, Memory in a book about memoir would be like Fourth of July sans fireworks.In The Art of Memoir, Mary Karr synthesizes her expertise as professor and therapy patient, writer and spiritual seeker, recovered alcoholic and “black belt sinner,” providing a unique window into the mechanics and art of the form that is as irreverent, insightful, and entertaining as her own work in the genre. (publisher)
I loved this book, and even started writing, inspired by its concepts and straightforward advice.