The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr
Mary Karr’s arguments for fearless truth may have been the perfect thing for me to read this week, when a piece of my own truth – to my very great fear – whipped around the stripper pole of the internet at a much greater speed than usually experienced (this metaphor does not make sense: mommy Facebook groups are not the stripper poles of the internet. Come on, Katie. But it’s 5am. I’m giving myself a break here.).
Sometimes I forget what it must be like to read this kind of book if the reader is not on the hunt for nuggets of craft advice. Karr claims the book is geared to the general reader, but the book I experienced was not dissimilar from a lively classroom lecture. While not as accessible-to-all as Lamott’s Bird by Bird, for me Karr’s book is and was golden; she gets right into the nitty-gritty details of scene choice and manuscript organization; for a writer, this is beautiful, necessary (affordable!) education. I read it once, then slipped back into passages for instructional advice. For the general reader? Nah, it’s not for you. But her other works sure are: see “Lit” or “The Liar’s Club” and say hello to your new favourite author.
Labrador, by Ben Fogle
To what should I compare this book? Ben Fogle has given us a fun, simple, bouncy read. It’s happy and it’s dear and a bit all-over-the-place; like a pup bringing you every stick in the woods, Fogle’s narrative is often interrupted with interesting facts about the breed, their origins, and celebrity associations. A trivia pursuit junkie, for me this was not unpleasant. Sometimes a good book feels like a talk-through-the-night with your best friend, sometimes a good book feels like playing catch before supper. This was the latter.