Search Results for: mary karr

Amateurs. Seeking mastery? Here’s our Truth.

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TRUTH. In a second.

He’s the spark for this share.  Greg Cowles, editor of the NY Times Book Review, reviews Mary Karr’s new book The Art of Memoir.  One sentence in his review (also titled The Art of Memoir) summarizes his thoughts on the book:

It is not, alas, a very good book. Repetitive, unorganized, unsure of its audience or tone, it can’t decide whether it wants to be a how-to guide or a work of critical analysis.

Here’s my review of the book review in fewer words: BAH!

Now on to the Truth, our Truth, Truth for anyone seeking mastery of anything – with the most illuminating excerpt from Karr’s new book.


[Read more…]

Riding Metro North. Giving Up the Ghost.

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Hump Day. Hump it was.

It’s the 9:06 pm train from Grand Central. A 15-hour day and it wasn’t over.

I sit with other weary commuters heading home. The train is silent.

I can’t get comfortable. I shift left, and then right and then lean against the window. I give up. I need to be horizontal, in my bed.

It’s Haunting. A Ghost. It’s Hilary Mantel’s Giving Up the Ghost:

The faintest movement, a ripple, a disturbance of the air. I can sense a spiral, a lazy buzzing swirl, like flies; but it is not flies. There is nothing to see. There is nothing to smell. There is nothing to hear. But it is motion, its insolent shift, makes my stomach heave. I can sense— at the periphery, the limit of all my senses— the dimensions of the creature. It is as high as a child of two. Its depth is a foot, fifteen inches. The air stirs around it, invisibly. I am cold, and rinsed by nausea. I cannot move. I am shaking. . . . This is the beginning of shame.

You are tired. You know that’s it.  Let it go Man. [Read more…]

and a whole door to the past blows open

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At unexpected points in life, everyone gets waylaid by the colossal force of recollection. One minute you’re a grown-ass woman, then a whiff of cumin conjures your dad’s curry, and a whole door to the past blows open, ushering in uncanny detail. There are traumatic memories that rise up unbidden and dwarf you where you stand. But there are also memories you dig for: you start with a clear fix on a tiny instant, and pick at every knot until a thin thread comes undone that you can follow back through the mind’s labyrinth to other places. We’ve all interrogated ourselves— It couldn’t have been Christmas because we had shorts on in the snapshot. Such memories start by being figured out, but the useful ones eventually gain enough traction to haul you through the past. Memory is a pinball in a machine— it messily ricochets around between image, idea, fragments of scenes, stories you’ve heard. Then the machine goes tilt and snaps off. But most of the time, we keep memories packed away. I sometimes liken that moment of sudden unpacking to circus clowns pouring out of a miniature car trunk— how did so much fit into such a small space?

~ Mary Karr, The Past’s VigorThe Art of Memoir (HarperCollins. 2015)


Notes:

Welcome to My Chew Toy

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The book’s mostly shaped for the general reader, and while I hope it can help such a human hone an affection for memoir as a form, I really hope to prompt some reflection about the reader’s own divided selves and ever-morphing past. For everybody has a past, and every past spawns fierce and fiery emotions about what it means. Nobody can be autonomous in making choices today unless she grasps how she’s being internally yanked around by stuff that came before. So this book’s mainly for that person with an inner life big as Lake Superior and a passion for the watery element of memory. Maybe this book will give you scuba fins and a face mask and more oxygen for your travels.

~ Mary Karr, Preface | Welcome to My Chew Toy. The Art of Memoir (HarperCollins. 2015)


Mary Karr’s new book was released yesterday. I highly recommend her autobiographical series: The Liar’s Club, Cherry, and Lit: A Memoir)


Image: Oregonlive.com

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