Mary Karr's The Art of Memoir

Mary Karr's The Art of Memoir

Here are the chapter titles and a selection of quotations:

  1. The Past's Vigor.

  2. The Truth Contract Twixt Writer and Reader.

  3. Why Not to Write a Memoir: Plus a Pop Quiz to Protect the Bleeding and Box Out the Rigid.

    Her handy 10-question quiz does just what the title of the chapter offers.

  4. A Voice Conjures the Human Who Utters It.

  5. Don't Try This at Home: The Seductive, Narcissistic Count.

  6. Sacred Carnality.

  7. How to Choose a Detail.

  8. Hucksters, the Deluded, and Big Fat Liars.

  9. Interiority and Inner Enemy — Private Agonies Read Deeper Than External Whammies.

  10. On Finding the Nature of your Talent.

  11. The Visionary Maxine Hong Kingston.

  12. Dealing with Beloveds (On and Off the Page).

    The chapter ends with Karr's 11 "rules for dealing with others", starting with:

  13. On Information, Facts, and Data.

  14. Personal Run-Ins with Fake Voices.

    She quotes from one of her 1978 poems (37 years before this book was published) and then says:

  15. On Book Structure and the Order of Information.

  16. The Road to Hell is Paved with Exaggeration.

  17. Blind Spots and False Selves.

  18. Truth Hunger: The Public and Private Burning of Kathryn Harrison.

  19. Old-School Technologies for the Stalled Novice.

    Includes half a dozen tangential but relevant tasks to do when you feel (dare we say it) blocked.

  20. Major Reversals in Cherry and Lit.

  21. Why Memoirs Fail.

  22. An Incomplete Checklist to Stave Off Dread.

    Her 11-point checklist reprises points made already, consolidating them on two pages. The chapter ends with:

  23. Michael Herr: Start in Kansas, End in Oz.

    Karr then does a very practical and informative analysis of an opening from Herr's memoir. She concludes:

  24. Against Vanity: In Praise of Revision.