Suggested Memoirs

I just finished and am still mulling over the book The Memoir and the Memoirist, by Thomas Larson. It gave me a lot to think about. It also made me want to start reading memoirs and personal essays like crazy, to see if I can apply the observations he made to each work. Here is a list of the books he discusses throughout the text:

The Kiss and The Mother Knot: A Memoir, by Kathryn Harrison
Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt (Also ‘Tis and Teacher Man)
The Liars’ Club, by Mary Karr
The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother, by James McBride
Fierce Attachments: A Memoir, by Vivian Gornick
This Boy’s Life: A Memoir, by Tobias Wolff
A Hole In The World: An American Boyhood, by Richard Rhodes
The unexpurgated edition of The Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank
Autobiography of a Face, by Lucy Grealy
Prozac Diary and Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir, by Lauren Slater
Light Years, by Le Anne Schreiber
Anna: A Daughter’s Life, byWilliam Loizeaux
Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi
Moments of Being, by Virginia Woolf
Lost In Place, by Mark Salzman
My Father’s House: A Memoir of Incest and Healing, by Sylvia Fraser
Tuesdays With Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lessons, by Mitch Alborn
An American Childhood and For the Time Being, by Annie Dillard
Firebird and Still Life With Oysters and Lemons, by Mark Doty
Fault Line, by Laurie Alberts
Fat Girl: A True Story, by Judith Moore
Intoxicated By My Illness, by Anatole Broyard
This Wild Darkness: The Story of My Death, by Harold Brodkey
Crossed Over: A Murder, A Memoir, by Beverly Lowry
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggers
Breakup: The End of a Love Story, by Catherine Texier
Fugitive Spring: Coming of Age in the ’50s and ’60s, by Deborah Digges
Paradise: Piece By Piece, by Molly Peacock
Fear of Fifty, by Erica Jong
The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, by Maxine Hong Kingston
Are You Somebody? The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman, by Nuala O’Faolain
A Walker in the City, by Alfred Kazin
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
Memories of a Catholic Girlhood, by Mary McCarthy
All Over But the Shoutin’, by Rick Bragg
Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America, by Elizabeth Wurzel
Omaha Blues: A Memory Loop, by Joseph Lelyveld
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, by Kay Redfield Jamison
Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, by William Styron
Lucky, by Alice Sebold
My Life in the Middle Ages: A Survivor’s Tale, by James Atlas
Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris
Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith, by Barbara Brown Taylor

The author of The Memoir and the Memoirist does not so much review these books as dissect them and that alone would make reading them along with his book worthwhile.


What distracts me from my writing?

1. My grandson, when he visits. He loves his cartoons and I need peace and quiet. Last year I was doing a NaNoWriMo type project only in June instead of November. Because of that I made it very clear that I had to write a certain amount every day. And lo and behold, Will left me alone during that time. Why can’t I do that more often?
2. My kids. I always drop everything whenever they need something. Sometimes it’s just phone calls, but they can be long ones. I can’t tell them I’m writing either.
3. My job. On the days that I work, I rarely write, even though I only work part-time and often don’t even go to work until 5 at night. In fact, whenever I have to do anything, like doctor’s appointments and errands, I tend to skip writing that day.
4. Surfing the Internet. I like to have the Internet on when I’m writing on the computer, supposedly so I can do research. But I spend more time checking my email and reading various blogs and articles than I do writing.
5. Worrying. About money, about my writing, about marketing my writing, about my kids and grandkid, about my weight, my age and my mortality…the list goes on. If I give too much energy to worrying, I have too little left for writing.
6. Snacking and smoking. These are delaying tactics, things I do to avoid what I should be doing.
7. Reading. I know a certain amount of reading is good for a writer. But it obviously depends upon what you read, and I often read junk. I do this for the same reason that I snack and smoke. I sometimes do all three at the same time.

Notice that I didn’t list housework as a distraction. I use my writing as an excuse for not doing any.