Sunday, April 29, 2007

Memoir Required Reading

Writerly folks who enjoy talking about (or writing) memoirs may want to check this out. In late March, Slate ran a series of articles on the State of the Memoir, about 15+ pieces on all aspects the the memoir, especially writing about family and its many repercussions.

And here's the list of pieces ( I think these links will work too). Lots of interesting opinions here.

"For Whom the Memoir Tolls: How to write about the dead," by Allen Shawn. Posted March 29, 2007.
"Ishmael Beah's A Long Way Gone," by Elizabeth Rubin and Mike Vazquez. Posted March 29, 2007.
"Collateral Damage: How I told a former lover I had written about him," by Edmund White. Posted March 29, 2007.
"Just Screw It: Writing about my family's feud over the Sweet'n Low fortune," by Rich Cohen. Posted March 29, 2007.
"Momma's Boy: How I wrote a memoir about the mother I once hated," by John Dickerson. Posted March 28, 2007.
"Inside Autism: What two memoirs can tell us about the disease du jour," by Ann Hulbert. Posted March 28, 2007.
"Ivory-Tower Ambassador: The studying, and selling, of America," by Christopher Benfey. Posted March 28, 2007.
"In a Land Far, Far Away: How I wrote a memoir about my father," by Danielle Trussoni. Posted March 28, 2007.
"Publish, Then Flee: How to tell your family you're writing about them," by Sean Wilsey. Posted March 28, 2007.
"Road to Nowhere: My life as a victim of Hurricane Katrina and the ineffectual Road Home program," by Blake Bailey. Posted March 27, 2007.
"When Irish Tongues Are Talking: How I told my colleagues, family, and former countrymen I was writing about them," by Frank McCourt. Post March 27, 2007.
"The Woman Warrior at 30: Maxine Hong Kingston's secrets and lies," by Jess Row. Posted March 27, 2007.
"My, Myself, and I: The role of autobiography in contemporary poetry," by Dan Chiasson and Meghan O'Rourke. Posted March 27, 2007.
"What the Little Old Ladies Feel: How I told my mother about my memoir," by Alison Bechdel. Posted March 27, 2007.
"The Liars' Club: How I told my friends I was writing about my childhood—and what they said in return," by Mary Karr. Posted March 27, 2007.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Moms Who Write

The folks over at Mom Writers Literary Magazine, an online journal, are going to have a go at the print side of the business, with the first issue due out in June. One of my short little pieces of fun nonfiction is up at the online version right now. I'm going to send in my subsciption and another submission too.

Monday, April 23, 2007

My Essay in new Special Gifts Book

So here it is - the cover of the anthology in which my essay, Thump, appears. Mine is the opening essay in the collection, which features reflections from more than 40 mothers about the unique experience of raising a special needs child.

Special Gifts: Women Writers on the Heartache, the Happiness and the Hope in Raising a Special Needs Child, will be out in June 2007. When that happens, you can order it on the Amazon and Barnes & Nobles sites.

Meantime, ask your local independent book store to order it from the publisher!

My piece is about the journey I took with my son Sean, navigating through his multiple developmental difficulties, without the comforting map of a specific diagnosis -- and how, at age 12, Sean was ready to face his world without the support of all the different therapies, interventions, and special accommodations that had been a major part of his childhood until then. The question was: Could I let him be the "normal" child he had become? Giving up the role of mother-advocate was not an easy transition for me. But, as he had done all his life, Sean showed me the way.

Only Day One of Kids School Vacation

Here's what I'm thinking about this afternoon, on the first real, lovely, warm, breezy spring weekday in northern New Jersey.

- Why is it that all of the events that, when they happen, make me feel like I am the most horrible parent on the face of the planet, but later make the best fodder for writing about what it's like -- what it's really like -- being a mother?

- How much I would like to slap across the face all the vapid reporters allowed to wield microphones and ask parents of murdered children what it felt like when they got the news.

- Why my sons, ages 9 and 13, know precisely what aggravates me -- from crumbs on the computer keyboard to overly-talkative salespeople -- yet my husband often hasn't a clue. He eats chips at the computer nightly and likes listening to product highlights from the commission-only guys at Best Buy.

- How I am going to finish revising four 15-page personal essays this week (about the above-mentioned worst moments in motherhood) for two of my MFA requirements with both boys home from school. Did it have to coincide with Turn Off The TV Week which, for some counterintuitive reason, they think is a good idea?

- Where to find a butter dish that fits into the door of my 25-year-old refrigerator. Target and KMart both bombed out. Since when did butter dishes get so stylish?