Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Sunday Salon: On Memoirs

I love memoirs. I suppose I was particularly drawn to the genre of creative nonfiction in graduate school because I am so fascinated by memoirs, and I am rarely disappointed. Some of the ones I've read and loved in the past couple of years are:

The Horizontal World by Debra Marquart (she was my major professor at Iowa State)
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Night by Elie Wiesel's
The Nazi Officer's Wife by Edith Hahn Beer
I Have Lived a Thousand Years by Livia Bitton-Jackson
The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan
The Color of Water by James McBride
Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
A Very Small Farm by William Paul Winchester

Last night I finished another one which will go right up there in my list of favorites: The Sky Isn't Visible from Here by Felicia C. Sullivan. This is Sullivan's memoir of growing up in Brooklyn with an unstable, selfish, cocaine-using mother. I'm going to give this a proper review later this week, but my recommendation is to go out and buy or borrow this book. It is beautifully well-written and mesmerizing.

Books I've reviewed this week:
Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
Blue Ridge by T. R. Pearson
More Than You Know by Beth Gutcheon

I have unbelievably added only one book to my TBR list this week: Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian, reviewed at The Magic Lasso. Of course I haven't yet read 90% of this week's Sunday Salon posts, so I'll no doubt have a few new titles to add later today.

If you'd like to participate in The Sunday Salon, you can sign up here.
Also, I'm just linking to this post because I think it's so excellent: Becky's Book Reviews: The Sunday Salon: Finding Yourself in Books


Tracee said...

I've been reading Becky's Book Reviews for quite some time - some excellent stuff there. Love your blog, have also read The Glass Castle and Night, both excellent in my opinion. Will be checking back often:)

Anonymous said...

I have three of the memoirs you've listed, The Glass Castle, Night, and The Color of Water, on Mt. TBR.

I recently read Hope's Boy, which is Andrew Bridge's memoir of his life in foster care. It's a moving book.

Unknown said...

Try reading The Liars Club by Mary Karr. I think it's the best memoir I've read. Ever.

Anonymous said...

I also love memoirs and creative nonfiction. Two I've read in the last year or so that really stand out are Paul Monette's Becoming A Man: Half a Life Story and Alison Smith's Name All the Animals . Coincidentally, they are both about sexual identity...more importantly, they are touching, well-written, and inspiring.

jlshall said...

I've always loved reading memoirs, too. Haven't read any of the ones you mention, though. Two of my favorites are Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, and Shakespeare and Company by Sylvia Beach - both about the writing life in Paris during the 1920s. If I could have lived in any other time and place I think I'd choose then and there.

Sarah at SmallWorld said...

Thanks for all the great recommendations for memoirs! You all are great commenters!

Lauren said...

This is an area I haven't done much reading!

I'm going to try to find the Bohjalian book also- I loved Midwives.

Joanne ♦ The Book Zombie said...

Great review of "Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life" I read this awhile back and adored it, she had such an original idea that really brought her memoir to life.

Anonymous said...

I'm also a memoir fan, and love The Glass Castle. For some reason, tales of dysfunctional childhoods appeal to me :)

Jena Isle said...

I rarely read memoirs , but now that you have recommended them as good reads , I'll try to buy one and see if I can enjoy.

Thanks for sharing.