Archive for September, 2010

Ok. This is the title of Rachel Shukert’s new memoir, but doesn’t it sound reassuring? Maybe it means your own book is going to be great, or that Obama’s plan to fix our country’s fiscal mess is going to be great. Feel free to interpret this however you like.

I haven’t read Shukert’s memoir yet, but I plan to after reading Meredith Blake’s interview in the Book Bench section of the New Yorker. The Book Bench: The Exchange: Rachel Shukert on Memoir Writing, Jewish Identity, and the Dutch Love of Phil Collins : The New Yorker Blake asks interesting questions that elicit even better responses. Shukert’s insights into the memoir genre: “Memoir is like making a sculpture out of found objects.” So true. We have the material, but how are we going to piece it together?

Shukert goes on to comment, “Memoir has become such a dominant genre in the publishing industry that it’s time to reinvent the form.” She likened her chapters that digressed onto topics such as the Dutch national love for Phil Collins to the quirky sidebars a reader can find in publications like the ‘Lonely Planet’ where a recommendation for a youth hostel might be accompanied by a sidebar noting that the building was used as a forced sterlization center by the Nazi’s.

Of course my insecurity as a writer burbles up from where I keep it smushed down in my inner being most of the time. Am I doing enough to make my memoir unique? How do I come up with innovative ways to reinvent the form without appearing gimmicky? It can’t be forced, I tell myself. Ideas like this happen organically, so I push down that insecure little gremlin and keep writing for now.

According to Blake, Shukert takes the time worn topic of her book (single woman travels Europe to find herself, a la ‘Eat Pray Love’) and skillfully adds humor to keep the subject fresh. I’ve already reserved ‘Everything is Going to be Great’ at my library. Have any of you read it?

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Jon Winokur, author of The Daily Curmudgeon and a dozen others, chooses his favorite books for writers for “Writer Wednesday” on HuffPost Jon Winokur: Advice To Writers: The Best Books On Writing Books (Writer Wednesday) I already own four of the books on the list. The starred books would like to join the illustrious crowd on my shelf (a hint to any of you looking to buy me a present ;))

The Elements of Style – William Strunk and E.B. White

On Writing ~ a memoir of the craft – Stephen King

The Careful Writer ~ A modern guide to English usage – Theodore Bernstein

Bird by Bird ~ some instructions on writing and Life – Anne Lamott

** Metaphors We Live By – George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

** The Paris Review Interviews

** The Writing Life – Annie Dillard

Story – Robert McKee

How Not to Write: The Essential Misrules of Grammar – William Safire

In the past I’ve quoted from the Paris Review interviews and I think Winokur has excellent taste to include this collection. Have any of you found books on writing helpful? Which ones?

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