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book cover: Writing the Memoir



From Truth to Art

By Judith Barrington
Published by The Eighth Mountain Press

Published in Australia by Allen & Unwin,
in Germany, in translation, by Autorenhaus Plinke, and
in China, in translation, by China Renmin University Press.

ISBN 0-933377-50-9, trade paperback, $14.95

The bestselling book on writing memoir,
now in its second edition with over 100,000 copies sold.

Acclaimed writing teacher Judith Barrington has written a lively, thoughtful, and encouraging book aimed at those aspiring to the highest literary standards, but useful, also, to those who simply want to record stories for family and friends.

Detailed writing exercises are included in each chapter.

Writing the Memoir covers:

• Getting started
• Finding form
• Telling the truth
• Using fictional techniques
• Expanding your language skills
• Developing sensory detail
• Writing about living people
• Placing your story in a larger context
• Getting feedback on your work
• Steering clear of common pitfalls
• Legal issues pertaining to memoir
• Guidelines for critique in writers' groups

For more information about each chapter, click here.

PRAISE for Writing the Memoir

“No student of memoir writing could fail to learn from this wise, pragmatic, and confiding book. One hears on every page the voice of an intelligent and responsive teacher, with years of thinking about memoir behind her.”
Vivian Gornick

“Her practical guide leads both experienced and novice writers through the writing process from idea to publication, addressing such technical problems as theme selection, voice, tone, form, plot, scene, and character development, as well as how to stimulate creative thinking and build necessary discipline. Her common-sense approach strives to temper the emotional honesty of the genre with the integrity of artistic skill.” —Library Journal
full review

“Like many fellow contemporary memoirists, Barrington is a poet who found herself "needing the expansiveness of prose," but as soon as she began writing her memoir, she realized how challenging a form it is and how unsettling the act of writing about one's life so openly, without the artifice of poetry or the mask of fiction, can be. After asking the key question, ‘What were the rules of memoir anyway?’ she ended up answering it with this intelligent and insightful book, which combines stimulating literary analysis with a great deal of practical information and excellent advice.” —Booklist
full review

On Amazon.com, Writing the Memoir is consistently the book on memoir most highly rated, both by writing teachers and students:

“I teach memoir and have looked at nearly all the books on the subject. Writing the Memoir is by far the best (and as far as I can tell, the one most often used by classes). It's useful for a writer at any level. It's comprehensive, extremely well written, and has a kind tone. I'm a big fan of Judith Barrington's memoir, Lifesaving, and recommend that highly as well.”

“I have been telling my writing students to read this book since it first appeared. Barrington is herself a fine writer, known for her poems as well as her essays, and thus offers a model as well as solid advice/instruction for her readers. Most important for one who offers a guide not simply to writers, but specifically to those who choose to write memoir, she deals forthrightly with questions of truth, motive, ethics and responsibility - arenas often ignored or dealt with superficially, if not cavalierly. Her own recent memoir, Lifesaving, is a fine example of what writers may do when they approach both the craft and the art of memoir writing from the perspectives she offers in Writing the Memoir.”

“This book was terrifically useful to me in beginning to write a memoir. It has a welcoming feel and walked me through all the questions I had about the genre. There's a nice balance between nuts and bolts craft matters and important worries like "writing about living people." There are useful exercises that I will use with my writing group. I've read a lot of books about writing and this was clearly the best in terms of helpfulness and the extensive knowledge of the author.”

“Ms. Barrington has written a practical, often profound and always helpful book that is excellent for strugglers with the craft of memoir. It is also an exceptional review of attitude and technique for those who are advanced in the craft. The exercises are designed to trigger imagination, not to spoon-feed it. The explorations of ethics and struggles with personal challenge are heartfelt. The author's respect for all who try to write flows off the page, as does a clear eye and unsentimental approach to digging deep into personal material. Reading this in tandem with the author's own memoir is a very satisfying way to explore the possibilities of memoir as an art form.”

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Distributed to the trade in the U.S. and Canada by Consortium Book Sales and Distribution and Perseus Distribution. Phone: (800) 283-3572; fax (800) 351-5073; electronic ordering via PUBNET (SAN 631-760X). 
Available through all major wholesalers and library jobbers.

Available in independent, chain, and internet bookstores in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia and Europe
, or can be ordered directly from The Eighth Mountain Press, 624 SE 29th Avenue, Ptld, OR 97214; 503 233 3936 phone. No charge for shipping bookrate within the U.S.


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