Are You There Mary Karr? It’s Me SMITH.

March 28th, 2007 by Larry Smith

79888487_105610f732.jpgWe love Slate and enjoy how that huge online magazine is always on the SMITH tip (and who can blame them for doing a serialized graphic story after we did or hyping Ze Frank a week later then us? They got some good taste). No surprise, then, that its Memoir Week feature is a rich and excellent read for story lovers.

Memoir Week is a meaty package that covers topics like poetry and The Women Warrior, but the best bits are the short pieces by memoirists on the stickiness of writing about friends, family, and lovers. Frank McCourt explains that this process is much easier when most of your subjects are dead; Alison Bechdel writes with a raw and heavy heart about telling her mom about a book about her dad (”I know I hurt her by writing this book. She made that clear, but she also let me know that she grasped the complexity of the situation.”); Sean Wilsey takes a page out of George Seldes’ book and advises writers to tell the truth and run; Mary Karr says she chooses to go with full disclosure, alerting those in her non-fiction books about scenes in which they appear, and reveals a willingness to adjust to their recollections, and be mindful of any recriminations her words may cause them.

(Note to Mary Karr: We really, really like you. Collectively, we’re you’re biggest fan. Would you send us a six-word memoir for our book?)

Memoirists in the making—a lot of you, we hope—should also read Hana Schank’s article on MediaBistro, How to Write About Family and Friends So They’ll Still Speak to You.

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