PDA

View Full Version : Recommended Memoirs



LifeStory
02-19-2002, 07:59 AM
My Last Remains, by Jill, published by Denlinger. A POWERFUL memoir of growing up with mentally ill parents. It raises the question of what happens to the children of the mentally ill. What happened to the author will shock you. Yet she survived and is now a faculty member at U/WA. You can view the book and order it from the publishers web: www.thebookden.com MY LAST REMAINS under Memoir nonfiction
Anne Hayamen

scorpioannie
02-19-2002, 08:51 AM
Anne,

Thanks for letting us know about My Last Remains. I'm finishing a Master's in Counseling, and I am very interested in checking this book out. Also, my mother had emotional/mental problems. Children, of mentally ill parents, are subjected to turmoil, that is sometimes incomprehensible. I spent a good deal of my childhood apologizing for or about my mother. As a result, I was well past forty before I realized that I could stand up for myself. Yes, sometimes, it is warranted to get angry, and you can do so without making a complete fool out of yourself.

Annie

LifeStory
02-19-2002, 09:24 AM
Thanks, Anne, for the recommendation. Other published memoirs you all recommend? Let us know what you particularly liked about it, too.

Stephanie
wz.com/arts/WritingYourLifeStory.html (http://wz.com/arts/WritingYourLifeStory.html)
wz.com/arts/LifeStoriesOfOthers.html (http://wz.com/arts/LifeStoriesOfOthers.html)

Tangewystl
02-20-2002, 02:22 AM
Blackbird, by Jennifer Lauck (I read the entire first half of this book standing in the bookstore; it was quite amazing)

Somehow Form a Family, by Tony Earley

anihaya
02-21-2002, 06:27 AM
For those of us who had mentally ill mothers or fathers, I know that it was especiallly hard because as children we identify with our parents and live in fear that we too are ill.
Anne

anihaya
02-21-2002, 06:30 AM
when i posted my message, there was another message just below it that linked to a web. It was not my post. I dont know how it was put in the space I was using.
anne

isoginchaku
02-21-2002, 06:53 PM
If autobiographies qualify as memoirs, then two that I really enjoyed were Ben Franklin's and Lee Iacocca's. The former for the common sense enhanced by a brilliant mind; the latter for his hatred of bankers. I recently read Dutch which, since it's not by Reagan isn't technically a memoir, but is a well researched and documented biography.

McInnes
02-21-2002, 08:53 PM
Everyone has a story.

Whether it be raised by parents who possibly just shouldn't be parents, or raised in a family that was just totally unadjusted for whatever reason.

It is funny how books are written on the misery that is suffered and not on the perfect childhood someone has had. Is there such a thing or are human perspectives just focussed on the hard times.

It is all point of reference, isn't it?

Those of us who were raised in a situation that we feel was less than what it should have been, may seem like a dream come true to those who were raised with no family at all.

Perspective. It is a wonderful human trait.

*I apologize, I am feeling a little melodramatic today*

visit my web site at www.ahawritingservices.com

LifeStory
02-23-2002, 09:32 AM
Hi, Anne. I deleted that message since we do not know how those got there. Very odd. :\

Stephanie
www.absolutewrite.com/stephanie.htm (http://www.absolutewrite.com/stephanie.htm)

scorpioannie
02-23-2002, 10:22 PM
Tangewystle,

Please enlighten about Blackbird. Could check it out on Amazon.com or Barnes

lottie63
07-28-2002, 08:03 AM
Prozac Nation (young and depressed in america)

movie, having been pushed back since 2001, will be out in march of 2003. augh.

Elena
10-24-2002, 11:13 AM
Now I can't remember the name, but it is subtitled "A Partial Autobiography" by P.D. James. Wonderful book by one of my favorite writers. Can't look for title as book is currently lent to a fellow reader. (no password, never been here before)

batyler65
11-21-2002, 09:22 PM
"The Liars Club" by Mary Karr
"A Girl Named Zippy" by Haven Kimmel
"Operating Instructions, a Journal of My Son's First Year" by Anne Lammot.

All are excellent reads.

Quistis Trepe002
03-07-2003, 11:10 AM
A Thousand Pieces of Gold- Adeline Yen Mah
A Monk Swimming- Malachy McCourt
'Tis- Frank McCourt.

acousticgroupie
01-07-2004, 03:20 AM
“The territory of men” shoot, what’s the author’s name? Eek! It explores how this girls life changed as her single mother’s boyfriends did. Sort of white oleanderish…

now reading a book called “the cranberry queen” about a girl who escapes after her family is killed in a car crash…very good so far. I just adore memoirs.

Idgiescourage
06-24-2004, 08:47 PM
I would like to recommend a very compelling memoir about child abuse, "Charred Souls: A Story of Recreational Child Abuse" by Trena Cole. I have read it several times and find the author to be a miracle. The book is quite graphic, but is worth the read for anyone interested in the well-being of children.

maestrowork
06-25-2004, 10:17 PM
"Angela's Ashes" by Frank McCourt.
"Running with Scissors" and "Dry" by Augusten Burrough (hillarious, dark and disturbing, not for the faint-of-heart)

p.s. I don't consider biography the same as memoir... just me.

acousticgroupie
07-12-2004, 07:03 PM
autobio, memoir and bio, they're all different to me, too. that's cuz i'm writing a memoir though.

spooknov
07-19-2004, 11:46 PM
"Running with Scissors"

Sorry, I just had to address this. :rollin Did you put this in for me?

NancyC9
08-17-2004, 02:12 AM
I'm in the process of writing a memoir and have been reading little else since I started this project. Here's a link to my web page with a list of short reviews and comments on mostly memoirs:

www.drizzle.com/~ncorbett/booklist.html (http://www.drizzle.com/~ncorbett/booklist.html)

I just finished Reading Lolita in Tehran, and it is the best book I've read this year. I would love to design a course around it. I've been told that Running with Scissors is a good read. The list grows. But check this web page from time to time if you're interested, and thanks for the recommendations on this list!

Nancy

Roxanne McDonald
11-24-2004, 05:06 AM
Stephanie and all writing readers and reading writers;

Hello. Just a note to inform you that your URLS/links have been hijacked by some pseudo dorectories advertising "sperm on face" shots, et.al. deplorable crap.

wz.com/arts/WritingYourLifeStory.html
wz.com/arts/LifeStoriesOfOthers.html

As if it isn't enough to offer force spam on women for Viagra and men for breast augmentation, now it's our memoirs....argh.


Respectfully,
R--

eldragon
01-30-2005, 12:58 AM
I only read non-fiction, and memoirs are a favorite of mine. The subject never seems to be as important as how the book is written. I'll read anyone's memoir if the writing is good!

I wish I would have kept a list, but I didn't. One of the most shocking was :
Sickened : The Memoir of a Munchausen by Proxy Childhood -- by Julie Gregory.

Incredible story - a must read. This is the one book that actually had me writing a letter to the author.

:eek

MacAllister
02-13-2005, 12:06 AM
I loved Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes

SJB
02-14-2005, 04:10 AM
Me too. The interactions with the priests were especially entertaining!

An excellent New Zealand memoir is Ruth Park's "A Fence Around The Cuckoo" (sorry, I do try to curb the pro-Kiwi propaganda, but it does get away from me :) ).

triceretops
02-17-2005, 06:19 PM
I don't know if this qualifies as a memoir but All Creatures Great and Small by

James H? It really floored me and gave me a new profound respect for animals in general. I'll never harm another animal in my life. I wish I would have read it when I was a nasty lil' nipper.

Triceratops

Rose
02-18-2005, 08:19 AM
Tri, I love the James Herriot books! Every single one of them, and I read them over and over. But please keep that a secret, as far as everyone knows, I only read difficult fiction and the New Yorker.

Rose

triceretops
02-18-2005, 09:35 AM
Rose, your secret is safe with me. And I must now confess that ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL found itself on my self. Terrible for a big hulking bodybuilder. Gak!

Tri

firehorse
03-20-2005, 05:59 AM
Nobody Nowhere, by Donna Williams (growing up autistic)
Autobiography of a Face, by Lucy Grealy (growing up with cancer and disfigured)
Fierce Attachments, by Vivian Gornick

These are my favorites...

-Sarah

CJWilkes
05-11-2005, 01:10 PM
An interesting Memoir is "Memoirs of a Sex Industry Survivor" by Anne Bissell

"A Child Called IT" Was very well written and has a strong inpact.

My book "Daddy, I Forgive You" is also a memoir so to speak... my life story.



I love reading about others and their lives. I find some are written better than others, but it is hard to knock someones life experiences... maybe their choices but not their experiences. ;):poke:

eldragon
05-11-2005, 01:36 PM
I'm currently reading "rescuing patty hearst" by virginia holman.

About a girl raised by a schizophrenic mother.

clara bow
05-11-2005, 07:59 PM
"Electroboy" by Andy Behrman. He takes readers on a wild & graphic ride about living with Bipolar Disorder. A+ Recommended

firehorse
05-12-2005, 04:44 AM
There's a great article in the new P&W about memoir. Makes me think I should wait another ten years before doing another draft. The guy (forget his name) also recommends a number of good memoirs to read.

Cassie88
05-14-2005, 02:49 AM
Autobiography of a Face, by Lucy Grealy (growing up with cancer and disfigured)

-Sarah

Sarah, so glad I found this post as 98% of what I read is non-fiction and memoir.

Have you read the book by the woman who was a friend of Lucy Grealy's...Now, I can't remember the name of it.. It's in my "books to read" notebook. I'll get back to you.

Someone mentioned Anne Lamott. She's my favorite. Read her follow up to Traveling Mercies in a day 1/2. Lent it out..name...hmmm. Plan B...
And of course, what writer hasn't read her famous, Bird by Bird.

Loved "A Million Little Pieces" - ?

I also liked The Los Angeles Diaries by James Brown

Great thread.

Cassie

firehorse
05-14-2005, 03:29 AM
Have you read the book by the woman who was a friend of Lucy Grealy's...Now, I can't remember the name of it.. It's in my "books to read" notebook. I'll get back to you. Someone else just recommended it to me, and I can't recall the name either.

I went to college with Lucy, and we hung out in the same crowd. We were also in the same poetry class - talk about how to get instant writer's block: just sit next to her in class. My experience of her was positive, but I gather this new book has a different take on it; then again, I think it's about a friendship after she'd already become a well-known poet (and the whole heroin thing, which I didn't know about until after she died).

We all got high a lot back then, but I don't know how hard she went with the drugs, even though the entire gamut was readily available at Sarah Lawrence. (One of the infamous quotes, from the Dean of Student Affairs to a known student dealer: "I don't care if you deal heroin, but if you could just stay away from the freshmen, I'd appreciate it.") I think she still had hope then, that her face could be reconstructed and that that would change her life; it sounds like her dreams were destroyed too many times.

One thing the book made me realize is that no matter how much I complain about my appearance, I will never understand what Lucy went through, physically or psychologically.

MacAllister
05-14-2005, 03:33 AM
Have ya'll read Autobiography of a Face (http://endeavor.med.nyu.edu/lit-med/lit-med-db/webdocs/webdescrips/grealy351-des-.html)? Powerful book.

edit to add: oops, yep--just read back up a little bit. Let me just add my endorsement to Sarah's. :)

mommie4a
05-14-2005, 03:50 AM
Katharine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post, Personal History.

I started this book twice and couldn't get through it either of those times because her tone was so, "Woe is me - I never thought much of myself and no one else seemed to either - my nanny did this for us - we lived in all these houses and had all these wealthy Pilgrim connections" and so on.

But then she died. And the day after she died, I heard Ben Bradlee (also of the Washington Post) talking about her on NPR's Talk of the Nation and you know what he said? He said that she always felt like she didn't belong where she was. That this sense she had about herself, despite the fact that she was an incredibly briliant and powerful woman, was completely sincere.

And I really can relate to that. I went home and finished the book in about two days. Thoroughly enjoyed it, too.

Cassie88
05-14-2005, 05:05 AM
Loved Personal History

Also loved, loved Stuffed by Patricia Volk

Author of A Million Little Pieces is James Fry

Also loved!!!! Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexander Fuller

And Dry by same author of Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs ..for those who haven't read these, Scissors should really be read first.

Well, I looked for the name of the book I mentioned earlier...by the woman who was friends with Lucy Grealy... can't find it!

Jill, very interesting - you knew her. I've always been on the fence about reading her book, but now that you say she's a good writer, I will.

Cass

firehorse
05-14-2005, 05:23 AM
Jill, very interesting - you knew her. I've always been on the fence about reading her book, but now that you say she's a good writer, I will. I'm Sarah, but that's okay ;)

Jamaica Kincaid - Autobiography of my Mother - another good one to check out.

mommie4a
05-14-2005, 05:38 AM
Sarah - she knew Lucy Grealy or the friend? or Katharine Graham?

Cassie - I read the book about Katharine Graham and knew lots about her beforehand, but I'm sorry to say, I never met the woman (Katharine Graham - just knew OF her).

firehorse
05-14-2005, 05:47 AM
I knew Lucy Grealy. I don't know the woman who wrote the book about their friendship, and I never met Katherine Graham.

There's an agent named Laurie Liss who was also a friend of Lucy's at SLC.

Does this clear things up? Or make them more confusing?

Sarah

Cassie88
05-14-2005, 05:49 AM
Sorry guys, I'm the one who got confused.

Cassie88
05-14-2005, 06:13 AM
I bought Father Joe by Tony Hendra some time ago, but haven't read it yet.
Anyone here read it? Recommend it?
Cass

Kree Atv Khurz
05-18-2005, 07:15 AM
In trying to improve my own, I have recently read:
KITCHEN PRIVILIGES By Mary Higgins Clark
HOSTAGE TO FORTUNE By Ernest K. Gann
CASTAWAY By Lucy Irvine

All held my interest (the last one, especially in the last half of this survival classic), all are in part about the writing life, and each illustrates different approaches. You can find them in your library.

I'm now reading Andy Rooney's MY WAR, a memoir; but it's all about his reporting in WWII and not of much help in broader memoir form, I think, though it is good for battle memoirs. Gann's book made me more optimistifc, a bit more gung ho about my book and an agent :Headbang: for a while. LOL

Kree

Cassie88
05-21-2005, 05:33 AM
We were talking about Lucy Grealy and her book Autobiography of a Face and I was trying to think about the other book...

It's Truth and Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett

Anyone read it?

eldragon
05-21-2005, 06:58 AM
CASTAWAY By Lucy Irvine


That's one of my favorite books!

Since my last post on this thread, 5/11.......I've read The Same River Twice by Chris Offutt, very good once you get the writer's unusual style. Some parts are simply brilliant.

and Working Stiff Manifesto (forgot the authors name - already sent the book to my mom - today, actually). One of the best books ever!

Am currently reading The Reluctant Metrosexual by Peter Hyman, which has good moments, but basically I can't identify with the silver spoon boy. I can't quite figure out who his target audience is. Some parts are laugh out loud funny, but others are mundane.

And, then I'm plowing through a sailer's memoir - The Voyage of American Promise - by Dodge Morgan. It's boring, too.


I read about 2-3 memoirs a week, when I can find them.

A favorite - Nickel and Dimed.

firehorse
05-21-2005, 07:47 AM
Oooh - Borrowed Time by Paul Monette. He wrote other books but, as eldragon said about Peter Hyman, there was a bit too much of 'poor little rich boy' in them.

Borrowed Time is an exquisite memoir about watching someone you love die a slow, horrible death while the country ignores it (AIDS mid-80s). I'm paraphrasing, but he says that, with AIDS, it was like being on the moon: other people could see it, but unless you'd been there, you couldn't know what it was like. I think it's his most lyrical and definitely most poignant book. It also captures the culture of the early days of AIDS in a way that few books have, aside from And the Band Played On (which is journalistic rather than personal).

Cassie88
05-21-2005, 08:47 PM
Firehorse, Thanks for telling us about Borrowed Time... I'm def. going to get it... I think I've seen And the Band Played On a dozen times..one of those movies I stay with when surfing the channels... the ending when they list the names of all those people who died...about kills me, too...

You made me think of two books I loved:

In Love with Daylight by Wilfred Sheed
He writes about his battles with polio, (I think - read this ages ago) alcohol and sleeping pills, and cancer

A Season in Hell by Marilyn French (Woman's Room)
This is her harrowing account of her battle with esophogilean (sp?) cancer

Cassie

Kree Atv Khurz
05-23-2005, 09:16 PM
This popularity of non-fiction, particularly memoir about life's problems and complaints, has really surprised me. I now can't understand why agents are so turned off by mine, WHISTLING MARCHES. Recalling a frequent-poster young woman fantasy/fiction writer on the old iPublish website a few years ago who turned down my request to exchange critiques, because she didn't want to be reminded of her mother's "surrender" to Cancer, a threat about which my memoir was primarily then, had caused me to conclude all these agents who don't feel my book is "right for them" actually know what everyone wants to read. If you're not famous already, forget it. Otherwise, just give readers something to pass time with. Apparently not?

I'm noting your recommended memoirs. Thanks for the suggestions.
Kree

eldragon
05-26-2005, 08:10 PM
Fall Down Laughing by David L Lander (Squiggy on Laverne and Shirley).

An easy to read memoir on MS.

firehorse
05-26-2005, 09:23 PM
If you're not famous already, forget it. Otherwise, just give readers something to pass time with. Apparently not?Hey Kree, check out the thread on "What Constitutes an Interesting Enough Story to Tell?" (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8302). Somewhere in there is an article about what makes memoirs work.

I may have mentioned this already, but there's also an article in this months P&W.

Cheers,
Sarah

triceretops
05-27-2005, 12:15 AM
I don't know if this qualifies but 30 years ago I read two of David Niven's books and they were wonderful. They were a gritty behind the scenes look at Hollywood and its more than michievous stars.

The Moon's a Balloon
Bring on the Empty Horses

Tri

Cassie88
05-27-2005, 04:47 AM
Thanks, Tri, I've always meant to read his books....now you've brought them up, maybe I'll finally get around to it...summer reading.

Kree Atv Khurz
05-27-2005, 07:22 PM
Firehorse wrote:
I may have mentioned this already, but there's also an article in this months P&W.



Firehorse, what is P&W, and how can I find it?
Kreetin

Cassie88
06-04-2005, 05:57 AM
Kree, P & W must be Poets & Writers... which I subscribe to...you'd think I'd know ... Now, I'll have to check this month's issue for the article.

Cassie

Yes, Kree. Poets & Writers. In the May/June issue, there's an article on memoir by Sven Birkerts. I'm just reading the inside pages..they give their website,

www.pw.org/mag (http://www.pw.org/mag)

Hope this helps.

DonnaReed
02-03-2006, 02:12 PM
Everyone has a story.


It is funny how books are written on the misery that is suffered and not on the perfect childhood someone has had. Is there such a thing or are human perspectives just focussed on the hard times.

It is all point of reference, isn't it?

Those of us who were raised in a situation that we feel was less than what it should have been, may seem like a dream come true to those who were raised with no family at all.

Perspective. It is a wonderful human trait.

*I apologize, I am feeling a little melodramatic today*

visit my web site at www.ahawritingservices.com (http://www.ahawritingservices.com)


A perfect childhood?

I'd love to see that one.

expatbrat
07-03-2006, 01:08 PM
I love books based on an extraordinary period of a person or companies’ life, rather than a memoir of everything from birth, death and marriage’s, and everything in between. Some favorites:

Losing my virginity
Into the void
Nuts
Lost in Transmission
Mr China
Phra Farang
Behind the arches
Damage Done
Forget you have a daughter
Never ever give up

citymouse
07-03-2006, 05:17 PM
May I suggest Lost Friendships: A Memoir of Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and Others by Donald Windham
The last publish date I can find is 1987. It's still available in Amazon.com

This was one of those books I wish had gone on and on. There's so much more to know!

mjlpsu
07-16-2006, 12:38 PM
I already saw my favorite listed, Nickel and Dimed
Another good read is A Drinking Life by Pete Hamill, but the last chapter just gets too preachy for my liking. It could've ended on the prior chapter and been an even better book.
On the other end, don't bother reading When I was cool by Sam Kashner.

Aimee
08-13-2006, 11:20 AM
I wrote a memoir in 2002 about the Hollywood punk scene of the early eighties. It's self-published, which turned out to be quite a fun learning experience. I hoped it would eventually be published by a mainstream publisher, but that wasn't in the cards. But it's really gratifying to receive emails from teens who've read it; I think that's been the best part.

Anyway, here's my book's link: www.punkrockmemoir.com

Chrisla
06-16-2009, 01:45 AM
Jennifer Lauck's sequel to Blackbird, Still Water
Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle
Elena Kozhina Through the Burning Steppe
J.R. Moehringer The Tender Bar

Fiddler
06-16-2009, 11:47 PM
"The Liars Club" by Mary Karr
"A Girl Named Zippy" by Haven Kimmel
"Operating Instructions, a Journal of My Son's First Year" by Anne Lammot.

All are excellent reads.
Funny thing about "Liar's Club" is that Mary Karr's childhood wasn't all that remarkable, it's just that she wrote about it so beautifully. You had to read slowly and carefully, and resist skimming, because she didn't waste a word.
Hell, my childhood was crazier and more eventful than hers! Most southern rednecks have crazy and eventful childhoods. ;)
Although "The Forgotten Soldier", by Guy Sajer is decades old, I'll always remember it as being one of the most powerful and hair-raising autobiographies I've ever read.
This poor guy was one of those luckless souls who had to fight on the Russian Front in WWII.
On second thought, I take back the word "luckless". He survived.
Millions of others, on both sides of the struggle, didn't.
If the term, "Hell On Earth" can be applied anywhere, the Russian Front was the place.

JulieHowe
06-18-2009, 08:17 AM
I wrote a memoir in 2002 about the Hollywood punk scene of the early eighties. It's self-published, which turned out to be quite a fun learning experience. I hoped it would eventually be published by a mainstream publisher, but that wasn't in the cards. But it's really gratifying to receive emails from teens who've read it; I think that's been the best part.

Anyway, here's my book's link: www.punkrockmemoir.com (http://www.punkrockmemoir.com)

I read your book last year and I really liked it; in fact, after I read it, I wrote a positive review on Amazon.com.

Adam Sharp
06-22-2009, 11:35 AM
I read “The Kiss” by Kathryn Harrison and “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim” by David Sedaris recently and thoroughly enjoyed them both. My favourite memoir ever is probably “This Boy’s Life” by Tobias Wolff. I love Tobias Wolff.

Adam