Friday, May 11, 2007

I'm funny to me sometimes

because I forget to do things sometimes, like actually including an excerpt from the book I fawned over yesterday. That would be sensible, no?

But what to choose? Start at the beginning, if you like.

Tobias Wolff, a friend of the author, wrote Marry Karr this advice while she was writing her personal history, which she taped to her computer:

"Take no care for your dignity. Don't be afraid of appearing angry, small-minded, obtuse, mean, immoral, amoral, calculating, or anything else. Don't approach your history as something to be shaken for its cautionary fruits. Tell your stories, and your story will be revealed." Karr's mother, on the other hand, put it more bluntly. "Hell, get it off your chest," she counselled. (source)

The release of The Liar's Club, some twelve years ago, is credited with spurring on the memoir explosion of the last decade. When asked about it, Karr replied:

"Well, I think memoir started with St. Augustine -- not with me, and not with Oprah. Memoir has an august, and inaugust, history. St. Augustine got drop-kicked for just using the first person pronoun at all. It was considered morally reprehensible. Memoir has long been what Geoffrey Wolff has called an "outsider's art." People want some sort of moral compass, and the subjective suddenly has power it hasn't had before because all of the measures of how we are doing -- the church, community life, religious or government leaders, certain kinds of values, family -- no longer mean what they once did. There are other people who have written memoirs -- Frank Conroy, Maya Angelou. Maxine Hong Kingston wrote a great memoir, "Woman Warrior." I think I'm the current ... (trails off). But I don't know why they don't call Richard Ford and bust his chops about all the Harlequin romances that are being published. Most of the memoirs are going to be bad, the way most novels are going to be bad, the way most articles are going to be bad, the way most poems are going to be bad. It's hard to make something of quality." (Salon interview, 5/97)


steve said...

Um, KF, Maybe its just me, but all I get on your link is the front and back cover and tha Table of won't let me look aty an excerpt or the "Surprise me " thing.
but you are "very well read, its well known" so I'll go buy the Damn book and tell em you sent me.

kissyface said...

KF - well, I'm not well-read enough - there are some serious "bulletholes" in my literary education that would send old Huckleberry reeling, if he had any idea... oops! I've spilled the beans!

As for the amazon online book, there are two arrows along the vertical margins that you click on, allowing you to move forward and backward through the book. They are set half-way down the page. Try again - it worked for me.

Huckleberry said...

What bulletholes?

I can not properly reel without fully knowing the details...

kissyface said...

Huck - well, of course that term is used in reference to Steve's blog, but your first favorite tome mentioned in the previous post is one. i'm woefully unversed in Milton, Dante, Virgil, Donne, Rand (not sure she belongs in the company of the others, however, though I don't know firsthand), Swift, Pynchon, Barthelme, Barthes (I tried to read Sot-Weed Factor, really I did), Thackeray, G. Eliot (well, that one's not a goose-egg exactly...), Joyce (pitiful attempts at Ulysses. Have read some of the Dubliners. Not even cracked Finnegan's Wake), Hemingway's underserved, as is Fitzgerald (again those two are not unknown to me), Proust who? The Tale of Genji, Arabian Nights, The Mabinogion, Epic of Gilgamesh, Spenser's Faerie Queen... I could go on.

But then there are so many more I have read. There's just not enough time in life to eat all the books one is hungry for.