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  • The Art of Memoir

  • Written by: Mary Karr
  • Narrated by: Mary Karr
  • Length: 7 hrs and 20 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (23 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Credited with sparking the current memoir explosion, Mary Karr's The Liars' Club spent more than a year at the top of the New York Times list. She followed with two other smash best sellers: Cherry and Lit, which were critical hits as well.

For 30 years, Karr has also taught the form, winning teaching prizes at Syracuse. (The writing program there produced such acclaimed authors as Cheryl Strayed, Keith Gessen, and Koren Zailckas.) In The Art of Memoir, she synthesizes her expertise as professor and therapy patient, writer and spiritual seeker, recovered alcoholic and "black belt sinner", providing a unique window into the mechanics and art of the form that is as irreverent, insightful, and entertaining as her own work in the genre.

Anchored by excerpts from her favorite memoirs and anecdotes from fellow writers' experience, The Art of Memoir lays bare Karr's own process. (Plus all those inside stories about how she dealt with family and friends get told - and the dark spaces in her own skull probed in depth.) As she breaks down the key elements of great literary memoir, she breaks open our concepts of memory and identity, and illuminates the cathartic power of reflecting on the past; anybody with an inner life or complicated history, whether writer or reader, will relate.

Joining such classics as Stephen King's On Writing and Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, The Art of Memoir is an elegant and accessible exploration of one of today's most popular literary forms - a tour de force from an accomplished master pulling back the curtain on her craft.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2015 Mary Karr (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers

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What listeners say about The Art of Memoir

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • A. Potter
  • 2016-01-18

Brilliant!

Any additional comments?

This is probably the best book on writing I’ve ever read. Mary Karr combines immensely satisfying criticism (including brilliant analyses on Vladamir Nabokov, Maya Angelou, and Michael Herr) with her own rules for memoir writing, focusing on themes of truth, carnality, and cultivating a voice, all delivered with her own mastery of language and charming Texas twang. I connected with her no-nonsense outlook on writing, and her ability to talk the reader through scribbling down the hard stuff with humor and authority. Through Karr, I found inspiration to resurrect my own tattered pages of memoir and start typing again. This is a keeper.

8 people found this helpful

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  • K. Russell
  • 2015-11-04

Fantastic info for writers! Good listening!

What did you love best about The Art of Memoir?

Mary Karr's voice and her ability to tell a good story.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, but only because there is so much info, I wanted to take it all in.

Any additional comments?

Highly recommend this to anyone interested in writing memoir and the art of telling a story. Mary Karr is the perfect author for this book!

8 people found this helpful

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  • DianA
  • 2015-12-31

Like a college course taught by Mary Karr

When I finished listening to The Art of Memoir, I felt sad it was over. I savored it during my morning walks & felt I was privy to a much needed university course taught by Mary Karr. This is more than a book about writing, it's about honesty and hard work - I'm inspired to do many things, including writing.
Thank you Mary Karr✌️💜📚

7 people found this helpful

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  • Deborah
  • 2016-02-02

Could not stop listening!

Would you listen to The Art of Memoir again? Why?

I'm going to listen to this book several times, there's so much meat in these words to savor.

What other book might you compare The Art of Memoir to and why?

None! There's nothing like this that I've ever read or listened to. And I've read dozens of memoir writing books in search of knowledge, inspiration...direction.

What about Mary Karr’s performance did you like?

It's always good to hear the writer read her work. There's a realness to the words instead of a performance of the words.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Christine Currie
  • 2016-02-07

Wanted To Like, Preachy Tenor A Turn-Off

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Read Mary Karr for great family stories and Memoir that's tough to put down. Attend the MFA program at Syracuse for first hand teaching of the trade by Ms. Karr

Any additional comments?

Felt like she phoned it in.

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  • James Rehg
  • 2021-06-16

Good information

A little more rambling with more details about her teaching and other authors than I wanted. Still it offered tips I will use.

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  • Zelda
  • 2018-08-26

A difficult listen but worth it

This was difficult to listen to but well worth the effort. I put off listening to it until I was on a bus ride where I could listen and take notes scribbling ideas on paper by hand .
Having written one book and starting on a memoir I was stuck. Listening to Mary kart relate her struggles has helped me to push forward, I was about to give up but now I shall struggle on one scene at a time tossing out or rewriting the crappy ones

2 people found this helpful

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  • Me
  • 2017-12-23

Disappointed...

Loved her former books. I guess I was expecting some type of story here and not just her yammering on an on! Ugh! Boring!

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  • Illumination
  • 2017-01-30

Mary Karr is monotone

Interesting points in her book about writing memoirs. I finished half of it, but realized it was so monotone that I drifted off on other thoughts while listening to it.

Not all authors should read their books. I've listened to both Stephen King and Elizabeth Gilbert read their books. They were entertaining and interesting.

Someone should have told her...or Mary should have listened to the advice and critic...her reading of her book is dull, lifeless, and hard to listen to. Monotone.

Other books on writing are worth the purchase. This one is not. Sorry, Mary. Maybe you should have listened to some books before you read your own.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ellen Scanlin
  • 2016-11-08

Excellent

A profound and engaging read, very specific and interesting. I highly recommend it and appreciate her insights.

2 people found this helpful