Interview: Catherine Gildiner, author of After the Falls: Coming of Age in the Sixties

December 7th, 2010 by Vivian Chum

“I love writing memoir because whatever happened happened. It’s over. You can’t make it better. You just write it up.”

“I swear to you, 75 percent of my life was eating pizza and watching The Late Show,” insists author Catherine Gildiner, “But these big things happened in between.” From the Women’s Movement to Vietnam and Civil Rights protests, the “big things” that made up the political and social landscape of the ’60s provide the backdrop for Gildiner’s coming-of-age memoir, After the Falls, the page-turning sequel to her New York Times bestseller, Too Close to the Falls. Each chapter of Gildiner’s memoir chronicles a thoroughly readable adventure that never quite turns out as expected, thanks to Gildiner’s outsized, take-charge personality. Read more »

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Interview: Heather Sellers, author of You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know: A True Story of Family, Face Blindness, and Forgiveness

December 1st, 2010 by Vivian Chum

“When I write, I try to think hard about what the reader needs and match that up against what I need. That struggle, that tension, is part of what gives way to the thrum.”

Heather Sellers, author of You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know, does not have a visual impairment. Nor is she mentally ill, socially anxious, or just plain forgetful. Sellers is face blind, a prosopagnosic. She cannot reliably recognize people’s faces. Face blindness affects approximately 2 percent of the population, but is so frequently misunderstood that it is often best defined by what it is not. In fact, for decades, Sellers did not recognize the condition in herself, even as she mistook strangers for her ex-husband Dave or lost her stepsons in a crowd. Read more »

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Interview: Kristin Kimball, author of The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love

November 9th, 2010 by Edward Lovett

“I plucked different things from different people. For humor and honesty, I looked to Mary Karr’s memoirs, all of them. For the ability to write a true sentence, I love Joan Didion. For writing about farming and rural life, there’s Verlyn Klinkenborg.”

“Kristin Kimball is a farmer.” That’s how her author bio begins. True enough: She and her husband, Mark, run Essex Farm in Essex, N.Y., which produces a full year-round diet for its 150 local members. She is also one of the only farmers ever to describe a cow thus: “She was an interesting-looking cow, dark brown with a beautiful streak of white in her shaggy forelock that made me think of Susan Sontag.” Read more »

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Megan Stack Talks War Reporting with The Rumpus

November 4th, 2010 by M. Milam

Memoirville recommends… an interview with Megan Stack on The Rumpus.

Stack is author of the book, Every Man In This Village Is A Liar, a memoir that recounts the six years she spent as a reporter in the Middle East. She speaks with interviewer Michelle Orange about war reporting, the complexities of truth in journalism, and the artistic freedom she experienced in writing her own book, which was her first published work outside of pieces for the LA Times.

Shortly after September 11, then just 25 years old, Stack traveled to Afghanistan. She then spent her late twenties and early thirties traveling through war torn and poverty stricken countries reporting on various wars with countless battles, bombings, and triumphs. Stack ends the interview with the hugely complex question, one she’s still working out for herself: How do we want to guide ourselves as a country? Preserving markets, strategic interests, morals, or something else?

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Interview: Vanessa Davis, author of Make Me a Woman

October 26th, 2010 by Lisa Qiu

“A huge part of my writing process comes from agonizing over the most delicate and/or diplomatic way to talk about people. Nobody likes to be summed up. But as a writer you have to be authoritative. And as a cartoonist you have to be brief.”

Vanessa Davis is author of Make Me a Woman, a recently released anthology, fifteen years in the making. It shows her creative and life journey as a cartoonist from her Bat Mitzvah to her late twenties and follows her as she moves from New York to California. Drawn with an uninhibited hand, Make Me a Woman documents the highest anxieties in her life, yet then there are whimsical women dressed in colorful and textured outfits to dance the reader into another story. Read more »

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Rock Memoirs and Keith Richards’ Life

October 22nd, 2010 by M. Milam

Memoirville recommends… a short piece on The Millions about the “Rock Memoir,” its downfalls, and more specifically, Keith Richards’ new memoir, Life, co-written with James Fox. Read more »

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Interview: Mark Vonnegut, M.D., author of Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So

October 19th, 2010 by Kathy Ritchie

“When it was difficult, it was a sign to keep going because it was going to be helpful or better. When I feel like that or when I get that tightness in my throat, to me that’s now a sign not to back off but to keep going.”

My first thought when I got the e-mail to interview Mark Vonnegut, M.D. about his recently released memoir, Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So? that I’m not qualified to talk to him, given that I’ve never read a single work by his father. So, yes, Mark is the son of Kurt Vonnegut. Read more »

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Old School: “Papernick the Book Peddler”

October 13th, 2010 by Alyssa Jocson

Before downloadable e-books and Amazon’s computer-generated recommendations, there was good, old-fashioned hand-selling of books, the preferred method of Jonathan Papernick. The author of three books, most recently a collection of short stories, There Is No Other, Papernick has taken on the alter-ego of ‘Papernick the Book Peddler’ to promote his books in face-to-face interactions during a New England tour. He carts his books to local farmers’ markets to meet his readers in person, his slogan being “Bringing Market-Fresh Books Directly to the People.” The tour recently ended with a day-trip to New York City, beginning in Brooklyn and making his way to the Upper West Side with many stops in between. Papernick’s “NYC Peddler Procession” is chronicled in a slideshow of photos below.

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Remembering My First: Roald Dahl’s Boy

October 7th, 2010 by M. Milam

The first memoir I remember reading was Roald Dahl’s Boy: Tales of Childhood. As a girl in Los Angeles in the early nineties, I was not particularly interested in the life of Dahl as a boy living in Britain in the twenties, but I had decided that I had to read every Roald Dahl book in the school library, Boy being one in the bunch that I dutifully read.

Jessica Freeman-Slade writes in her review of Donald Sturrock’s Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl, “As a child, I closed each Dahl book marveling, ‘Yes, that was exactly what I wanted to read.’ How did he know children’s tastes so well?” Yes. Read more »

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Let’s Not Mince Words: Bill Clegg & Darin Strauss On Memoirs and Media

October 5th, 2010 by Bill Clegg and Darin Strauss

“I suppose there is an old fashioned side to me that believes that if the book is good it will find its way—sometimes swiftly, sometimes excruciatingly slowly, but that people will find it, eventually.”

Bill Clegg and Darin Strauss are two authors who continue to find each other in conversation about their memoirs, Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man and Half a Life, respectively. Clegg writes about his addiction to crack and how, through his binges, he lost his job, his savings, and many relationships, including his boyfriend (Clegg’s Six-Word Memoir: “Years of using, now of use”); Strauss’ memoir is an account of a car accident that resulted in the death of one of his high school classmates–an accident that, while not Strauss’ fault, turned his life upside-down. (His Six-Word Memoir: “Faced down demons. Now, what next?”) Read more »

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