Category Archives: memoir

Should memoir have its own section in bookstores?

Memoir is an exploding category. More and more, people want to read real-life stories that bear witness to the poignancy, pain, and unexpected joy of life. Curiously, despite the popularity of the genre, memoir does not have its own category on bookstore shelves. At Chapters/Indigo, memoir is generally shelved in the “biographies” section, even though […]
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The Best and the Worst of Edits: Diane Schoemperlen on the editing of her memoir, This Is Not My Life

Diane Schoemperlen, the author of a dozen novels and short story collections, thought that writing a memoir would be easy. After all, she had the makings of a great story – a fraught relationship with an inmate convicted of second-degree murder – at her fingertips. What could be so hard about typing it into the […]
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The Ethics of Truth-Telling

Writers of creative nonfiction have widely different views on how much they can make up and still call their work “nonfiction.” Investigative journalists, for instance, believe that it’s fine to use the techniques of fiction — characterization, dialogue, sensory description, and such — as long as they stay true to the facts. But for writers […]
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The Curious Mind of a Copy Editor

Should it be “short, balding man” or “short balding man”? “Bad hair day” or “bad-hair day”? Mary Norris, a copy editor at The New Yorker for over thirty years, relishes these sorts of editorial decisions. “If commas are open to interpretation,” she writes in her literary memoir Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, […]
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Book Review: The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr

A curious mind probing for truth may well set your scribbling ass free. Poet, writing instructor, and author of three memoirs, Mary Karr has been messing around with memoir all her life. Messy – that pretty much describes her approach to writing and teaching. “I’m a passionately messy teacher,” she writes. And, no surprise, her book […]
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Truth and Trust: Editing Memoir

“In memoir, the author stands behind her story saying to the world: this happened; this is true. What is important about this assertion is that it has an effect on the reader.” —Judith Barrington, Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art Judith Barrington’s Writing the Memoir has sold over 100,000 copies; it’s the number one […]
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