Serena intervenes, yelling at them to stop beating her because Offred is pregnant. Offred later reveals to Serena that she's not pregnant, causing Serena to drag her to her room and order her not to come out. Serena Joy calls Offred outside to tell her she's asked Nick to try and impregnate Offred. She suspects the Commander is infertile, so she secretly brings Offred to Nick's apartment, where she waits as they have sex. They finish, and Serena tells Offred to lie down in her room, after saying a prayer to encourage her to become pregnant. The Waterfords receive a Mexican delegation being lead by Mrs.
Castillo , who is intrigued by the idea of Handmaids. She asks Serena if she ever imagined a society in which women can no longer read her book, to which Serena replies that God asks for sacrifices. Serena wakes up Offred to rush to help Janine formerly Ofwarren , who is threatening to jump off a bridge with her daughter. Offred convinces her to release the baby, which Janine does right before she jumps off. Commander Warren is arrested. Serena tries to offer comfort to his wife Naomi and offers help with the baby, which she curtly refuses. Naomi then reminds Serena of the first Offred , saying that "Men don't change".
Serena discovers that Offred went to the Jezebel's club with her husband and strikes Offred down on the ground to punish her. She then forces Offred to take a pregnancy test, which is positive. Serena reveals the good news to her husband and tells him the baby isn't even his because he is weak. She then takes Offred on a surprise trip, several hours away. Serena meets with Hannah , Offred's daughter, to show Offred that if she harms herself or the baby then Hannah will be in danger. Offred screams in misery and calls Serena an evil monster. Two armed guards come in and lead Offred away, to the surprise and horror of Serena Joy and Fred.
Offred walks off willingly, unsure if this is her end or a brand new beginning. Commander Fred and Serena Joy take Offred to be examined by a doctor. They are shown their child on the monitor and Serena kisses Offred's forehead in thanks. Offred is left alone and begins to put her shoes on when a key falls out from her boot.
The key gets her into a stairwell and allows her to escape. Serena later eavesdrops on her husband as he tries to find Offred. She goes up to Offred's old room and sits on her window sill . After June's recapture, the Waterfords greet her stiffly and formally. As June catches her breath she reminds Serena that "as long as my baby is safe, so is yours. At the baby shower, Serena opens many handmade presents from the other Wives. Serena retreats to the yard with a cigarette. Aunt Lydia tells Serena that everything that happens now must be for the good of the child, and thus she should stop smoking cigarettes .
That evening, June begs for forgiveness in front of all the members of the Waterford household and for her to be Offred again. Serena later crawls into bed with Offred and caresses her stomach. My fault. She weighs her, measures the size of the baby, considers her mental state. She even gets to take notes with a pencil, in a case of "special dispensation" for aunts, as she explains to an astonished Serena.
Serena encourages Aunt Lydia to leave, but she takes clear offense when Lydia says one of her jobs is to observe the "mood" of the home in which Offred is carrying the baby . The baby is teething, and Naomi thinks its a way for God to "test" her . The Waterfords head to a Prayvaganza chaired by Commander Pryce in which the handmaids and wives sit in rows while a ceremony takes place down below. Nick , among other Guardians , is escorted out to the main floor.
When Offred retreats to her chamber, she struggles up the stairs, still evidently bleeding. She moves around her room. She goes to get the doctor . Serena later sits by the couch while Offred gets ready to go to sleep and lets Serena put her hands on her belly . Serena invites four handmaids Alma, Ofglen 2 , Oferic, and Ofsamuel for a surprise lunch with Offred.
When Offred asks to see Hannah, Serena angrily refuses and orders her to get her things out from downstairs to go back to her old room . After the bombing, Commander Fred is lying half-conscious in his hospital bed. Nick offers to take Serena home for sleep and a change of clothes. She refuses his offer. Commander Putnam enters the room with a visibly injured Commander Cushing and announces Commander Pryce "has gone home to God" and Cushing will be taking on Pryce's "security duties".
Cushing promises he will find everyone responsible for the gruesome attack . Offred gets to the hospital. Serena Joy is happy to see her and to show Fred his baby is safe. At home, Serena Joy talks about Ray Cushing with Offred and says that he's always been a blowhard even when they vacationed in Antigua together with his wife Sonia. She wants her to be very careful about what she says to Cushing. Offred reminds Serena that Commander Deeds ' entire house was slaughtered, and if Cushing came to believe she has a connection to the underground, he won't hesitate, nor would he ever let a baby grow up in that house .
When Nick returns to his apartment that evening, he finds Serena inside waiting alone. She learns from him that submitting warrants to the "Consular of Divine Law" needs the Commander's signature. Nevertheless, Nick agrees to help Serena "walk through the process" . Nick exchanges glances with the guards in front of the Waterford's house and heads to the front door.
As Cushing comes up to the house, a van of the Eyes stops by and guardians surround him. Commander Putnam explains he's being arrested for treason on the word of Commander Waterford, due to the "overwhelming" evidence submitted by the Eyes . Serena Joy asks June to accompany her to the office where she has already put together new security policies, explaining she'd like things to start getting back to normal. Reminding her of her former profession as editor, she asks June to read over the policy drafts. June grabs a pen . Offred and Serena work together to do Commander Fred's work while he's in the hospital.
The Commander returns to the house after being hospitalized and is welcomed back by Serena and the staff. Serena goes over the work she did for him while he was away. He's grateful but ushers her out of the office so that he can look over it. Upstairs, Offred finds a music box and a rose on her bed, supposedly a gift from Serena.
Serena tells Offred that baby Angela isn't well. She leaves to offer Naomi support . Later, Serena tells Offred that the baby isn't doing well and that they don't know what's wrong with her. Offred asks if there is something they can do and Serena says that they could ask one of the top female doctors but that would mean bending the law. Offred says that if it was her baby that she'd do whatever she could.
Serena asks Fred if he can allow the female doctor , who is now a Martha , check on the baby. Fred says no because they can't question the will of God. Serena tells Offred that Fred said no. Offred tells Serena about Janine and how she knows about the baby. Offred asks if Janine could see the baby but Serena tells her to not be stupid . Her husband is okay with it but Naomi isn't. Offred takes Janine to see the baby in the ICU.
Hodgson arrives in her Martha dress, changes clothes and is briefed by Dr. She runs some tests on the baby. The doctors give Angela's parents bad news. Serena goes after the doctor but the doctor says is that all they can do is pray for the baby's recovery. Janine is able to hold the baby in order to say goodbye . Serena and Offred arrive home and are told by Nick that they are wanted in the Commander's office. Fred tells them that he knows that Serena forged his signature so that the Martha could see the baby. He asks Offred if that's her handwriting on one of the papers and she says yes.
As punishment, Fred whips Serena with his belt and forces Offred to watch as he does . Serena is in her room crying as she looks at the scars on her buttocks. Offred asks her if there is anything she can do but Serena only sends her back to her room. Instead, Offred goes downstairs and apologizes to Fred for what she did. She asks if he'll forgive her and he says to go to bed . Rita comes to Offred 's room and tells her that they've been summoned. They are told by Commander Fred that he and Serena are going to Canada , introducing a new Guardian, Isaac , to watch over the house during his absence.
Serena tells Fred that he doesn't need her to go but Fred says that they need to show Canada that women aren't oppressed in Gilead. Nick loads up the car with their luggage when Eden shows up and gives him some cookies to take with him. She tells him that she's going to miss him but he says he's only going to be gone a couple of days.
Serena goes to see Offred before she leaves. She tells Offred that she'll be leaving the house as soon as the baby is born. The Commander and Serena land in Canada. Moira recognizes Fred and she points him out to Luke and Erin as they watch television. Moira and Luke go to the U. She encourages Moira and Luke to attend a planned protest.
Serena watches the people go about their daily activities as she rides by in a limo. Fred is greeted by Canadian delegates. McConnell comments to Commander Waterford that he and his husband were frequent visitors to the former United States, and responds to Waterford's suggestion that they both visit Gilead in the near future with a curt "when we feel welcome. Serena runs into a mother and her child but the mother wants nothing to do with Serena. She later heads to the bar where a man named Mark Tuello approaches her. Initially, Serena assumes that he works with the press.
He attempts to persuade Serena to start a new life away from Gilead, offering safe passage to Honolulu and encouraging her to write a book about the Republic that they will publish. Realising that he seeks to use her a propaganda tool, Mark appeals to her desire to have a baby, arguing that American scientists have been working on the fertility crisis for years and have the ability to make her fertile again. She would also be guaranteed 'freedom'. Serena states that she will never betray her country, to which Mark says that she already did.
When June and Isaac return home without any shopping, Rita questions Isaac about what she is supposed to make that night. When he curtly tells her that the shopping trip was cut short, Rita backs away and begins to prepare whatever is still in the house. He then sends June upstairs for a nap and begins talking to Eden about the strawberry jam she is making. Upstairs, June talks to Rita about how Serena wants her to leave the house once the baby is born. She asks Rita to watch out for her daughter while she's gone because she wants her child to know only kindness, and Rita says she'll do what she can.
At the protest, Luke confronts Commander Fred. He's taken away by the police but not before Serena and Nick realize that he's Offred's husband. Serena and Fred head up to their room where Fred says that they've made progress with the Canadian government. Nick goes looking for Luke and finds him in a bar. He tells Luke that June is alright but Luke says that she isn't fine. Nick tells her that June is pregnant.
This upsets Luke and he tells Nick to get out but then changes his mind and goes after him. He asks about Hannah but Nick doesn't know if she's okay. Nick gives Luke the stack of letters June gave him and tells him to get them out somehow. Luke asks Nick to tell June that Moira got out. Aunt Lydia visits Offred. Offred tells her about how Serena wants her to leave right after the baby is born. Aunt Lydia tells her that it is Serena's prerogative. The next day, Commander Fred and Serena are told to go directly to the airport because the letters were uploaded to the Internet and the public outrage was overwhelming.
McConnell blunty tells the couple that they are no longer welcome. As they leave, one of the women tells Serena that she doesn't know how Serena lives with herself. At the airport, they can barely pull their car onto the tarmac. Fred and Serena arrive home. While unpacking, Serena comes across the matches that she was given by the American representative. She throws it into the fire. June starts to get contractions and is taken home by ambulance where Nick helps her into the house. Serena comes out and greets June before she is taken to Serena and the Commander's room.
Aunt Lydia and other handmaids arrive. They begin to set up the room for the birth of the child. Downstairs, the Marthas are setting up the kitchen with snacks and delicacies. Also, Commander Fred is handing out cigars. Serena is in another room surrounded by wives as she pretends to have a baby. Aunt Lydia interrupts the ceremony and tells her that June was only having false contractions.
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They call a doctor to come inspect her and learn that she isn't even close to giving birth. This upsets Serena who tells June that after the birth she is to be transferred to another district. June approaches Commander Fred about what Serena wants and asks for his help. She asks to be moved to her daughter 's district. This upsets the Commander who asks her to get out. Before she leaves, June tells him that he'll never know what it's like to have a child of his own. Commander Fred and Serena talk about the baby. Serena says that the best way for the baby to come is the most natural way.
Rita tells June that Serena wants to see her. As she leaves, Rita tells June that she'll tell the baby about her. Serena forces June onto the bed as Fred forces himself into her. He sexually assaults her in order to get the baby to come early. After, Serena and Fred both leave the room leaving June alone as she cries. Serena Joy and the Commander Fred arrive looking for Offred. When they enter, Fred calls out to the Commander McKensie and his wife.
Serena runs upstairs, and notices the clothing armoirs have been uncovered. She sees Offred's cloak and head cover, and runs downstairs show it to Fred. Serena and Fred argue over Offred. Serena blames him for them running off together. He says Nick would not be that disloyal, and that he let Offred see her daughter, which he believes would have made her grateful. Serena tells him he is stupid and that they hate him, which is why Offred keeps running away from him.
Fred blames Serena constant cruelty to Offred for her escape attempts. She tells him he raped Offred last night, he points out that was her idea, and says this was "to fix her mess. She asks Fred if he expected to Offred to return after this visit and thank him. She calls him an idiot and he calls her a bitch. Serena says they can't explain it away or even report it. Especially to have a handmaid run away twice, and how they will think that they are part of the Resistance.
She says they will hang them on the wall, and he comments it would be his bad luck to be next to her. She chastises him for making jokes. In an upper level of the home, Offred spies a open box of ammunition on a storage chest. Inside, she finds a shotgun and loads it.
Warrant by S.L. Schiefer
Downstairs, Serena quietly confesses she gave up everything for "the cause," and all she wanted in return was a baby. Fred pins her against the wall telling her she demanded a baby. She cries that he has left her with nothing. At the same time, Offred has quietly opened a window in the breezeway, and has aimed the gun at them. Serena cries that she will never hold her baby, and Fred consoles her. Offred hears the entire conversation.
Serena pushes Fred away, and Offred gasps as her target moves out of her sight. Serena tells Fred that Nick is the father of the baby. Serena Joy is seen bathing Holly or Nicole as she calls her. Kate Buford's interview with him, yields gold: " A first-rate popular biography leaves readers feeling they know everything they need to know. A first-rate academic biography leaves readers feeling they know everything there is to know.
Excellent insight into the life of Penelope Fitzgerald and the writing of her biography. Read this especially if you feel you've had a run of bad luck. Jamie's practical observations about writing biography, such as what's hot, how to make money, what he thinks about academic publishers and self-publishing, etc. Although many writers leave instructions regarding posthumous publication and designate official biographers, conflicting interests between heirs and the public often overturn the expressed wishes of the deceased, writes Hamilton.
God, what goes on there under his eyes? When writer AD Harvey invented an meeting between Dickens and Dostoevsky, it was for years accepted as fact. So why did he do it — and why did he also create a series of fake academic identities? Fascinating profile of a man whose speed at finishing his dissertation and publishing a book made him suspect in academia.
Rockefeller recommends that students of biography read Churchill's book about Monroe. She shows persuasively, and with flair, that not every biography of Monroe can be true in all the details, because they contradict each other profoundly. Her book will burn into students' minds the lesson that biographical truth should never be taken for granted. Greene James Nye, Daily Mail, , illustrated with photos. Fashion and celebrity photographer Milton H.
Greene was only 26 years old when he photographed Marilyn Monroe for Look magazine. He went on to take thousands of photos of the Hollywood siren, capturing both her vulnerability and her sex-bomb persona. Carl Rollyson wrote: "a fascinating study of biography as a genre and why it has incurred so much hostility. Parker's process arrives to the truth of the matter in a field littered with the rambling surmises of New Critics hoping to eradicate authorial insight in favor of critical skewerings.
Parker not only stands for the tried and true ways of literary tradition, but also embraces the potential of the Internet and blogging to enable the potential of new information as well as finding new ways to reach an audience that continues to expand generation after generation. Excellent New Yorker essay, The Historical Romance: Edmund Wilson's Adventures with Communism , in which Menand writes: "Intuitive knowledge—the sense of what life was like when we were not there to experience it—is precisely the knowledge we seek.
It is the true positive of historical work. Birzer, The Imaginative Conservative, Biography, it seems, carried about as much weight in the scholarly world as did a People magazine article. She learned a lot about her grandmother through her biographer's research. She would never have learned it herself, she says; you don't think about investigating your grandmother.
Ian Ker Oxford University Press blog, on writing academic critical biographies -- which capture the subject's intellectual and literary lives: G. Dwight Garner, reviewing T. Stiles accusing Edward J. Renehan Jr. Ross wrote this now-classic fly-on-the-wall "profile" after following Hemingway for two days while he and his wife Mary were stopping over in New York enroute to Venice.
- Hamlet's Hit Points.
- The Daughter's Tale;
- Memoir, biography, and corporate history.
It was a model others, including Gay Talese, would follow. Johnson's life. Interesting on the process of writing a biography. Johnson, she stayed at his Texas ranch Jobs was dying of cancer Contemporary biography has always been a tricky balancing act, even before Paula Broadwell demonstrated with her book about David H. Petraeus how the scales can tip decisively the wrong way. Look at the slideshow of Caro's painstaking process , especially slides 7 through Lyndall Gordon anticipates a new 'golden age' of biography: "If biography is ever to shape an art of its own, it will have to surrender the swollen tome of "definitive biography" We need to co-opt the narrative momentum of stories, the inward intensity of poetry, and the speed of drama, without surrendering the authenticity that is biography's distinct advantage.
What happens when a biographer learns about potentially explosive information after the book is finished. Unidentified key players are the bane of biographers, who cannot resist the urge to tie all the knots. After publication, Sachs receives information about one such player from a reader fluent in genealogical research--and also learns he should have gone down one peripheral path of research he had chosen not to pursue.
By redacting all documents, no matter how benign, the government is throwing its past down the memory hole. Supreme Court, What he did about a controversial quotation that left an unwarranted blot on the life and legacy of Justice Clark. In earlier days, biographies were created a variety of forms and with different purposes from today: to edify and instruct, to counsel and polemicize. With a memoir, they can talk about what they related to in the story.
And when done right with truth it satisfies our craving for authenticity. But there are a hell of a lot of facts, and the more time I spent in the Johnson library, the more facts I got. The more facts you get, the closer you come to whatever truth there is. If the searing emotionalism found in the work of most repeat memoirists Angelou, Augusten Burroughs, Mary Karr, Jamaica Kincaid, Joyce Maynard, Frank McCourt, Lauren Slater would seem to have been generated by forces other than those fueling writers who, at the end of, or well into, their careers, tack on a few autobiographical works to their oeuvres Diana Athill, Gore Vidal , one quality unites all these writers.
Their lingua franca is candor. Save money on therapy. Write your life story. Styron is author of the memoir Reading My Father , and Kathryn Harrison, author of the memoir The Kiss , about dealing with memoir characters who really exist and other challenges. Are family loyalty and literary integrity necessarily at odds? The story can become less authentic. And there are other potential pitfalls to writing your life story. Writers can be thrown into despair if they have trouble reconciling past failures or placing traumatic events into a larger context.
People who can construct cohesive life narratives—where there are common threads and one event leads to the next—are likely to benefit from writing a memoir, he says, while those who view their lives as a series of random, unrelated events are not. His research has found that life narratives are especially beneficial if they focus on redemption and overcoming adversity. But secrets foster a specific version of reality in which the individual pieces have to be arranged in a particular way, fitting so neatly together that if just one were to change position, the whole picture would fall apart.
Suddenly you are not who you thought you were. And then who are you? They speak of a fear of rejection, a fear of criticism, a fear of backlash, a fear of failure. What I always say to these women is, 'If you can't do it for yourself, please do it for your sisters. Please write your story in the world, for the benefit of other women. Lakin, on Jane Friedman's blog, Choose the type of voice that best suits the story you are telling. Avoid sounding whiny or looking for sympathy it's annoying.
And "I have grown to understand that people have their own ideas of who and what I ought to be, wounded victim or heroic survivor. They may enjoy the attention or be enraged by it. Stalled, with three unsatisfactory manuscripts in a drawer and an MFA in creative writing, Herron discovered through NaNoWriMo National Novel Writing Month that her best process was to write a "fast terrible [but revisable] draft," a process that she found worked for both memoirs and novels.
Who cares? What's the conflict to be resolved? Are you believable? What's your platform how people know you and why they will listen to you? Jack Smith, The Writer, A long miscellany of observations about what makes some memoirs rise above the crowd, and some things seem to stand out: Voice is important, the quota for memoirs of abusive relationships has been filled, and you want to do more than tell the cumulative little stories of your life -- you want to tell your story in such a way that it resonates for the reader, who wants to keep reading.
It has to be about more than you. People have come to Finnegan to say that, really, Barbarian Days is not about surfing but about love or obsession or how to live. I later learned that memoirs in general sell better than investigative journalism. How many secrets can be exposed? What if the truth is not as you remember it? They're all valid questions without easy answers, because it all depends on who you ask—and Maran Why We Write asked some heavy hitters.
But to me, all these things are artificial. Life is lived in a much messier way. Our experience of life is messier than an arc with a before and after. How do they handle telling stories that might not be entirely theirs?
Reedsy is a site where self-publishing authors can find developmental editors, other kinds of editors, ghostwriters, book cover designers, publicists, and translators. By "nobodies" Adams means those who are neither generals, statesmen, nor celebrities. Frank McCourt and Mary Karr were the breakout nobodies who spawned many imitators.
Adams sees 's memoirs as falling into three groups: the childhood memoir "incestuous, abusive, alcoholic, impoverished, minority, "normal," and the occasional privileged" ; the memoir of physical catastrophe "violence, quadriplegia, amputation, disease, death" ; and memoirs of mental catastrophe "madness, addiction, alcoholism, anorexia, brain damage".
It is an exploration into a family's past, a relentless hunt that unearths buried secrets with multiple layers and the uncertain motives of their keepers, and one son's attempt to fully understand the details and meaning of what has been hidden. From mental institutions to the Holocaust, from mothers and fathers to children and childhood, with its mysteries, sadness and joy--this book is one emotional ride.
They can serve as springboards for those seeking higher office - and bridge-burners for those riding off into the sunset. Kojo explores the art of the political memoir - and what makes the great ones memorable and the poor ones forgettable. End-of-career books tend to be the best because they're not campaign documents. Even if we "let it go and die with our ungrammatical pants down, the pertinent thing to remember is that in writing for our family our goal is not excellence so much as authenticity. What's she really like With each biography the challenge has been to answer the question John F.
Kennedy posed when he said, "What makes journalism so fascinating and biography so interesting is the struggle to answer the question: 'What's he like? Without having to follow the dictates of the subject, the unauthorized biographer has a much better chance to penetrate the manufactured public image, which is crucial. For, to quote President Kennedy again, "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.
Concludes with her book list of fictional memoirs, some of which are memoirs that are not quite nonfiction, others of which are stories of other people posing as memoirs. Just listening to these interviews may be a memoir-writing course in itself. Check out Kephart's book Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir "I think we have to stop imprisoning memoirs in marketing categories. Wince-inducing but maybe it's easier if you've incorporated parts of them into your memoirs.
Liu, Wired, Sophie Roell, The Browser, via Salon. Legendary critic and memoirist Calvin Trillin discusses his favorite books of the genre. What may be different about a lot of the recent memoirs is the writers are not necessarily well known. Christina Haag, WSJ I once heard writing fiction described as planting a garden in the desert, and memoir as weeding in the jungle.
What I experienced was more akin to chiseling, as if all that had happened was stone, and I had only faith and a small bit of metal to find the shape, to tap out the places where meaning might lie. Invariably, to jot things down, I learned to carry a pen and index card with me wherever I went—even on beach walks clad only in a bikini. Times, , on people from our past banging on our cyberdoors, looking to set us straight on our memories.
We take half-remembered events and stitch them together to form a larger story that will, we hope, resonate with others and help them make sense of their own scraps. A first thing to ask yourself about personal narrative is: What portion of my experience will resonate with other people? The Fry Chronicles.
Stephen Fry twitter address: StephenFry , as Fast Company puts it, transforms how we read by producing the first book truly designed for the Internet his memoirs. Sanford Dody's own memoir of ghostwriting: Giving Up the Ghost James Birrens' brainchild. Structured memoir writing, two pages at a time, on a different theme each week, including branching points in life, family, health and body, sexuality, spirituality, work, death--and sharing those pieces aloud in small groups.
I got instructor training through Cheryl Svensson when she and Anita Reyes taught together. There are many local workshops and some online: I love teaching it and participants seem to love it too. It tends to draw an older group, or younger adults at a stage of life crisis or soul-searching. Now it's of Everyman.
Tristram Hunt, The Observer, Excellent essay. Writing not only plays fast and loose with the past; it hijacks the past. Which may be why we put the past to paper. We want it hijacked What we want is a narrative, not a log; a tale, not a trial. This is why most people write memoirs using the conventions not of history, but of fiction. The more you can yank yourself away from your own intimacy with yourself, the more reliable your self-awareness is likely to be We should see ourselves as literary critics, putting each incident in the perspective of a longer life story.
The narrative form is a more supple way of understanding human processes, even unconscious ones, than rationalistic analysis. See her website: Center for Journal Therapy. What's Yours? It's an act of memory. Pick at your memories. An interesting read. Proceeds from the sale of an anthology I Speak From My Palms: The In Visible Memoirs Project Anthology help support the In Visible Memoirs Project, a project of no-cost, community-based writing workshops in communities underrepresented in literary publishing and programs.
How can we achieve both uniqueness and universality? Another challenge: dealing with characters who really exist. How can we maintain our real-life relationships without compromising the stories we need to tell? Memoirists Sarah Saffian, Alexandra Styron, and Kathryn Harrison discuss these issues, in pursuit of a form of expression that we can support as both authors and daughters.
What was missing and forgotten was less often crucial or even trivial details of events than the events themselves, gone in their entirety. They alert us, calm us, reach toward us. They say implicitly, Yes, I have hoped, and yes, I have wanted, and I know that you have, too. Can a memoirist write with total honesty if she is worried about what her son might think? Christina Patterson, The Independent, Sharon Olds' account of her marital break-up made her a deserved TS Eliot winner. But that doesn't mean confessional poetry is easy to pull off.
Confessional poetry, says critic Mack Rosenthal, is poetry that "goes beyond customary bounds of reticence or personal embarrassment. Or how not to write a grief memoir, in her view. Should Joyce Carol Oates have revealed her second marriage? Tempest in a teapot? David L. Ulin, Jacket Copy blog, L. Two of the writers withheld important facts and wound up producing inferior books; the writer who held nothing back produced a masterpiece. Joan Didion "understands that if you want to write about yourself, you have to give them something.
Actually, Didion understands a far larger and deeper and darker truth. She understands that if you want to write about your grief, you have to give them everything. My favorite: Ernest Hemingway's "For Sale: baby shoes, never worn. Elsewhere, he writes "One of the saddest sentences I know is I wish I had asked my mother about that. I wish I had asked my father about that. Writers are the custodians of memory so it's extremely important to get to people, interview your parents, your grandparents.
Don't worry what anybody else thinks. The important thing is to be a recorder of the past. But it's very important work, I think, writing family history, whether anyone ever sees it or not. Stiles, Yahoo! Scott Raab's article for Esquire, based on an interview with the novelist in the town that provided the setting for so much of his fiction, is a Notable Narrative, as featured on Nieman Storyboard: Esquire goes home with Philip Roth Plot Twist : Philip Carlo, true crime writer with Lou Gehrig's disease, is working on his memoir.
His deadline: his own death. And therein, to me, lies the privilege and also the challenge of teaching how to write memoir. Anybody and everybody are writing memoirs these days. Before you join the crowd, suggests Genzlinger, in reviewing four memoirs. Don't write for sympathy. Don't be a copy cat. And consider making yourself the "least important character" in the story. It makes its interest in readers explicit, offering not just a series of life events, but a deliberate suggestion of what it is to be a human being — to experience confusion, despair, hope, joy, and all that happens in between.
Secrets of Memoir panel. Six-word memoirs hosted by Smith, a personal stories magazine. One life. Six words. What's yours? Six word memoirs on love and heartbreak. Everyone has a story to tell. The Slate Diaries. A collection of some of the "diaries" published by Slate the online literary magazines. Speak Memory. Oliver Sachs's fascinating long essay in the New York Review of Books on the nature of memory-- how we remember, misremember, and construct memories -- and borrow from what we read!
She learned that obsessive precision is not the greatest quality in a would-be memoirist. When Sting did this, his creativity was reborn. Songs exploded from his head. More should do so because artists write about what matters to artists, so it is helpful to new artists. A Story Circle is a group of women who come together on a regular basis to write, read, share, and celebrate the stories of their lives. Clearly the method can be adapted to other types of groups. I was ecstatic when I sold a book about my sordid first marriage. I would only be pretending to be at peace with my past and ready to share its lessons with the world.
I thought becoming a writer was a Cinderella, all-or-nothing type deal. But it turns out to be more of a Velveteen Rabbit situation. The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead , David Shields' excellent autobiography of his body, is a fascinating little book about life and death and about what's happening to your body enroute from one to the other. Don't read it if you don't want to hear the bad news, but it does help explain things like why you have to make more trips to the bathroom as you age. Rules for the much-maligned form. In brief but read the article!
Part 1 by Matilda Butler, Women's Memoirs blog, about truth being affected by relative age and wisdom ; Part 2 about differences in vantage points and information ; and Part 3 about the difference between two people's emotional truths. Writers wrote them, of course, but rarely did they become known for the memoir alone JR Ackerley and Laurie Lee may be two exceptions. Publishers and readers thought instead of "autobiographies", in which intimate personal disclosure took a back seat to records of achievement.
The boundary between the two forms is blurred and bridgeable: VS Pritchett's wonderful account of his early life, A Cab at the Door, was described as "autobiography" when it first appeared in , whereas now it would have "memoir" written all over it. Gore Vidal explained the difference in this way: "A memoir is how one remembers one's own life, while an autobiography is history, requiring research, dates, facts double-checked.
More important, by stressing subjective, unverified memory it permits the memoirist to misremember and, unconsciously or otherwise, to embroider and invent — an indulgence, it has to be said, that Athill has never been interested to take. It was liberating to write so truthfully. It was also effective. My teacher finally smiled at me, and he said my words held wisdom. Traversing the Mystery of Memory by Richard A.
Friedman NY Times, About the accuracy of nostalgia and how the brain records memories. Friedman concludes: "if anything marks us as human, it's more our bent for making sense of things than for discovering the essential truth about them. For example: "The single biggest change in recent years has been the dramatic drop in advances for most biographies.
While this may seem shortsighted in the long run, it makes financial sense when considering the declining state of books. Biographies, like most forms of nonfiction, have a hard time earning back the kind of money necessary to research and write them. The story part book, part film, part family photo album of Pine Point, a mining town that existed only long enough to give a generation or two some memories--and was then erased from the map. Scroll to bottom and click on Visit Website. He's writing about fiction but offers helpful insights how memory is affected by details from reality.
Critics take grim satisfaction in tearing the genre to pieces. How quickly they forget Nabokov and Karr and Wolff. While some require the freedom of fiction, what if some stories need the pressure of truth — not because a writer perceives reality or confession as more interesting or so different from fiction, but because there is a unique dialogue that happens only in memoir between the present and the past. Writing and publishing a memoir requires us to reveal and share your authentic self. A memoirist must attempt to avoid predetermined stories and challenge these popular narratives by plunging the subjects into a testing moment It is important for the memoirist to distinguish between what is lively detail and what is digression.
But the record itself still matters; we do need to know who we are. What were the challenges of working with their subjects and their families? How did they get access to archives and research materials? How did they find publishers? These experienced writers share stories and tips that will enlighten both jazz biography readers and would-be biography authors.
This webinar is part of a monthly series produced by the Jazz Journalists Association. David Foster Wallace was inspired to write about a breakup. So are a lot of memoirists. It's not always worth it. Both ingredients—memory and story—are equally vital. Like a journal, a memoir is a passionate account of your experiences—but like a novel it has narrative structure.
A journal may be eloquent, and you may choose to share it with selected others, but it is essentially a conversation with yourself. A memoir is inherently a conversation with others. Voice, persona, and point of view in memoir "Just as in everyday life we laugh and cry, show anger and sadness, so, too, for personal essayists and memoirists, one voice is rarely enough. Memoirists, for example need different voices in order to reveal the complexity of a life. You may need to twine a child voice with an adult voice; a lyric voice with a comic voice; a sober voice with an out-of-control voice.
How she loved, feared, yearned. This embodies the mysterious nature of memory, upon which memoir and much of adult life rests. And how to find a suitable prose style for it. You start with an interesting voice; the rest follows. If the voice is strong enough, the reader will go anywhere with you. They are very surface-oriented. In memoir, the only through-line is character represented by voice. In memoir, you are that main character. It has to engage your emotions in some way. You need two things for the text to move forward.
And so my review will be less about this book's extraordinary perspective on the Holocaust more broadly and specifically about the predicament and response of the Jewish community in Britain. Other reviews have addressed that achievement very effectively. What I want to comment on and celebrate, as a student of biography, is Haber's remarkable control of the narrative voice she uses in this painfully moving book. I would argue the most difficult task of all for a memoirist is reaching back in her memory and giving the reader the perspective she had then, early in her life, rather than the meaning she now imparts to it as an adult.
Haber might have chosen to pronounce truths about that stage in her life as she now understands them. But instead she finds a way as a writer to put us back there with a little girl who has no idea what is happening to her, not only within the greater drama of Britain at war and London under attack, but even more intensely the mysteries of her own predicament as a child imperfectly loved, occasionally abandoned, and consistently refused warnings or explanations. So we wander and wonder with her, we never know why certain things were done, only that they were done.
We can manage anything, even in a world at war, even as a child, if adults around us understand what we are emotionally owed, what we need to get through. There were some such adults in this child's life, but not enough, and not always. So read this book because of the history it conveys, but mostly read it to understand what it is to be a child. By the end, I was finishing years of study of nonfiction form, hours of writing workshops with invested peers and mentors in the same field.
So when my point of view as the narrator changes, it is through an integral change of the persona itself. I was more aware of myself, and more in tune with my surroundings, by the end of the writing process, so I resisted changing earlier bits to make myself look smarter. I just left in my initial excitements and lack of knowledge. Into those surrogates will be poured all that the writer cannot address directly -- inappropriate longings, s defensive embarrassments, anti-social desires -- but must address to achieve felt reality.
The persona in a nonfiction narrative is an unsurrogated one The unsurrogated narrator has the monumental task of transforming low-level self-interest into the kind of detached empathy required of a piece of writing that is to be of value to the disinterested reader. Fierce Attachments was the first thing I ever wrote in which I felt the presence of a persona on whom I could rely.
She figured out the scope of the book and how to fill it properly. I was never under the impression that I had written a major book, but I thought that what I had written was a small good thing. Then one day I wrote something about the city, about going out into the street for relief from my solitude and having an encounter in the street, and suddenly it came together for me. I thought, I can write about Leonard and myself as creatures of the city. Martin evokes his experience in scenes while also slipping into the action musings by his older and wiser self.
For one price, we get two points of view—that of the sensitive, difficult boy and that of the wiser adult he became. And then there is So, What? Without this reflective voice, the Coors story lacks the impulse for understanding that drove me to the page in the first place. It remains a surface recounting of events, which leaves my readers scratching their heads and saying, 'So, what? While most stories have a single protagonist, addiction narratives are usually about two people: the addict deep in the throes of their addiction, and the recovered narrator looking back objectively on the experience.
In that sense, addiction narratives are schizophrenic, offering two perspectives—one reliable, one unreliable—opposing and informing each other. How those two perspectives are apportioned determines the nature of the result. Craft basically my working on the words and syntax can get such a passage flowing because such recasting reconnects me to subjective experience.
And honestly, probably because varying sentence structures both mimics emotional connection and creates it. Our moods, our beings are as changeable as the sky long hours at any writing project teach us , so we can no longer trust any one voice as definitive or lasting. We can evoke the people or places that move us by becoming them, since every subject worth taking on remakes us in its own image.
In my first book, I thought it only right to describe the Philippines in a passionate, undefended, solicitous voice — to reflect what I saw in the place itself — and, five chapters later, to evoke Japan from a glassy remove, to speak for its cool and polished distances. Writing on the Dalai Lama, I work hard to espouse an analytical and logical and rigorous part of myself — to transmit by example those qualities most evident in him. And then, when I turn to writing about Graham Greene, I aspire to a more haunted, shriven, doubting even English voice.
He's talking about the voice of a self-involved, neurotic but emotionally honest New Yorker. Perhaps voice is the combination of these, powered by the essence of the narrative self who is the subject of the memoir," writes the anonymous author of the Slightly Nutty blog. Tone can range widely from highly emotional to melodramatic, from blackly humorous to cheerful or self-contained and can also be a combination of any of these. For example, you can use language to bring the reader closer to the emotion or distance them from it. Big Hair. Big Problems. Read a sample chapter here. Can memoirists take liberties with the truth?
They learn that on the one hand they will interact with the inmates much as they do with other students, but on the other, there are differences. They must not touch inmates. They cannot exchange gifts or information with them. They cannot take notes during the class and must keep in strictest confidentiality anything the inmates share about themselves.
ConTextos first developed the writing program for public schools. But it has since found equal success in the prison setting, where inmates are finding a voice to tell their stories. This moving talk is in Spanish with subtitles; her prison writing workshops focus on short poems, but as you can see when an inmate reads his poem are also about memoir. David Coogan.
Stories from ten men in a writing class that started in the Richmond City Virginia jail. Mass incarceration began in earnest when the radical s came to an end and we began warehousing social problems we could not deal with: racism, but also poverty, drug addiction, homelessness, mental illness, substandard public schooling, violence against children, violence against women, and so much more. Between and we went from incarcerating about a half million Americans to over two million Americans, a large many of them nonviolent drug offenders.
We went from triaging the violence of legitimate challenges leveled at America by groups like the Black Panthers to taking whole segments of America out of America and into this enormous warehouse. At the same time the genre of memoir began outselling fiction four to one. We became fascinated with the life stories of strangers while we began locking up our neighbors. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did. See also: Regional and international oral history organizations H-Oralhist , a network for scholars and professionals active in studies related to oral history.
A very popular guide for doing oral histories and personal and family histories, with memory prompts that encourage storytelling more than fact-finding: What were you like as a child? What did you think? What did you do? Organized by topic, from earliest memories, school life, young adulthood, marriage, children, grandchildren, through later life. The discovery of a tape recording shed light on a puzzling family photograph which was taken in - and changed historian Lisa Jardine's views about the genealogy boom.
Michael Takiff, Gravitas History. It just depends whether you want to go camping in the Rockies or take a world cruise on a luxury liner. Overnight the website closed down, to meet the rules of the bankruptcy court, so a lot of us felt abandoned. Some of us teach classes. Plenty of us provide services and a few regional organizations have formed.
I can't find you. Let me know if you already exist and how clients may reach you, and I'll add you to the list. Many of us start doing the work, then discover the term "personal historian" and recognize ourselves. There are people for that. Backstories about the process of getting the stories into print will be helpful if you want to help others tell their life stories. Schuetze, NY Times, It is part of an unorthodox approach to dementia treatment that doctors and caregivers across the Netherlands have been pioneering: harnessing the power of relaxation, childhood memories, sensory aids, soothing music, family structure and other tools to heal, calm and nurture the residents, rather than relying on the old prescription of bed rest, medication and, in some cases, physical restraints.
So she started a memoir-writing business. Thirty years from now, Nate's great-great- grandchildren will be able to pick up this book and know him," she said. The words we use matter The result is a moving and at times haunting first-person account of life on hospital wards. There used to be twenty-three big publishing houses and still others to send to.
Now there are fewer than half as many. Luckily she had an agent who believed in her, who knew where to find that small press that might love her ms. It had been a rocky recovery since his lung transplant three months earlier at the William S. Instead, she asked Hall if he wanted to tell his life story. Today more than 2, patients at the Madison VA have shared their life stories. Project organizers say it could change the way providers interact with patients. Listen or read the transcript, or both. See Wikipedia's List of fake memoirs and journals surprisingly long, and some of these books were popular!
Your Personal Memoirist Is Here Alina Tugend, Entrepreneurship, NY Times, "Many novices embrace the idea of talking to people and writing about their lives, but are not aware of the minutiae and marketing strategies involved. Horne said, with time added if the interview is disjointed or if the subject has a heavy accent. Can you stop by once a week? Tyrrell said. Horne said. What's your message is part of figuring out who is your audience, which means who will buy your books! A very helpful discussion. Is the industry "undergoing a backlash after a long spate of huge advances for books that were always unlikely to make much money"?
Interesting discussion, which concludes: Downgrade your expectations. Firms that target ultra-rich investors including wealth management firms have increasingly been tapping into personal history projects as a way to attract clients. They say it's a meaningful way to bond with clients and their offspring, often leading families to entrust more of their money with the firm. Demand is growing for personal historians who can help clients craft polished narratives - but actually making the time-intensive projects pay off is challenging, pros warn.
These gods take human shape at editorial meetings all over publishing offices in New York and elsewhere, and they are a demanding lot. Whereas a book on, say, diabetes need only only? The memoir gods are often unkind; at least they have been to me and my clients over the years.
So,like many agents I know, I shun memoirs. Memoirs used to be the territory of the famous, the intrepid, or the afflicted. Today, everyone's getting into the act, often with the help of a personal historian. And yet when my dad died in — same thing While capturing sound is now so easy, make sure you record the voices you will want to hear again.
The sound alone will say everything someday. Dan Bortolotti, More. Scroll down to read Jennifer Campbell's story of starting a personal history business. How an untimely layoff led four women to a whole new career--including Jennifer Campbell's shift from public television to personal history work. When Jennifer Campbell says she's a personal historian, people think she's a ghost writer or genealogist. She tells them she is neither. I swear.
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It just kept tilting in that direction. The only scenes that felt real and true were those with my wife and two sons They are, after all, only as strong as the roots that bind them. Another strategy shared by such families is having a communal desire to understand their history, warts and all Perdue said that she interviewed people who married into the Henderson family about their lives and wrote biographies about them for other family members to read. The new spouses are given the essays on what it means to be a Henderson.
Where did you go? Serving that market is becoming a small-business enterprise. Personal historians help others tell their life story--in print, audio, or video, or all three. Overall, what we got from this was access to family memory, knowledge and expertise, in a way that cannot be found in a physical archive. Tanya Evans, History Workshop, More collaborative work between family historians and those based in the academy.
Anne also had cancer. When I arrived at her home in Glendale, she was gray and diminished, with barely a voice. But as the day progressed and the camera rolled, she bloomed. Her best years, she said, were during World War II. I have learned since that there is a branch of elder care called "reminiscence therapy.
A study published last year in the Journal of Psychology and Aging found that these benefits were enhanced when the reminiscing occurred with others. Janet Malcolm, The New Yorker, 'When we arrived in America, and were taken under the wing of my aunt and uncle, who had left Prague six months earlier, we changed our name from Wiener to Winn, just as they had changed theirs from Eisner to Edwards, out of fear of anti-Semitism, which was not limited to Nazi Germany. As an extra precaution, my aunt and uncle had joined the Episcopal Church.
My parents balked at taking such a step. But they sent Marie and me to a Lutheran Sunday school in our neighborhood, and never did anything or said anything to acquaint us with our Jewishness. Finally, one day, after one of us proudly brought home an anti-Semitic slur learned from a classmate, they decided it was time to tell us that we were Jewish. It was a bit late.
Many years later, I came to acknowledge and treasure my Jewishness. But during childhood and adolescence I hated and resented and hid it. Personal and family histories make great books. Devin Hillis makes documentaries about the elderly. The shorter ones are played at funerals as tributes to the deceased.
We're turning stories into a symphony. We're deciphering the days of this older generation or the young father with a terminal illness or a mother with breast cancer who has a few months to live or a child with a tumor whose parents want to hang on to life. Make sense of the pain.
We're taking all that and putting it into understandable bits of video and music and story. This is a holy endeavor. Neither of these memorials has even been printed, let alone distributed. But to the families, they mean the world. The next parts of the story: 2. The Journey Begins ; 3. Closing the Circle. Romancing the Curve. Lots of good content and samples on Steve's website. See also his clever second time-lapse video of setting up a video shoot , showing how a video professional will move around chairs and other furniture in a room to get the right backgrounds and lighting for particular shots one part of the room might be better early in the day and another better later in the day, plus you might want variety.
See if you can spot a little white critter. The field of personal history can be a good fit for retirees embarking on a second career. Listen or read transcript. Accompanying his mother to her 60th college reunion gave him insight into the young woman she once was. Real estate companies have also enlisted his services, hoping the narratives he uncovers will help give their brokers a slight edge in the market. Today, everyone's getting into the act--often with the help of a personal historian.
Leiken, for her mother to answer each week. It then emails the questions to Ms. Mills, and when she replies, her answers go to her family and are stored on a website where they can read them privately. In guided autobiography, students write and share their life stories with the help of a trained instructor. I was honour-bound really to dig deep and bring memories, perhaps, that had been suppressed for a long time, that I would have preferred, perhaps, to remain in the sediment of my life. But having done that and having got through this process, I now feel so much better.
I've really forgiven people in my life and forgiven myself. And I feel much lighter because of it. So the process has been wonderful. And I'm advising everyone I meet, all of my friends and everybody - people in the street, 'Write your own book. Heidi Grant Halvorson and Jonathan Halvorson, author of Nine Things Successful People Do Differently , on The Science of Success: a blog about strategies that work explains the difference between promotion motivation striving for gains and prevention motivation avoiding losses. Even the elder's kids, the generation it makes sense to market to, might be motivated by that fear of losing stories and the names of people in the old family photos.
But you can also emphasize the rich experience that working with a personal historian can provide your parent, or the great stories such a person can elicit, perhaps even better than someone in the family might do. Polley experiments with the expected narrative structures, pushing us to consider not just the meaning of stories but how the way we tell the story can change its impact. Writing their own stories, they say, strengthens their reporting by helping them look harder for details, be more sensitive to the people they interview and develop a deeper appreciation for the work they do.
Books and videos each have strengths and weaknesses, as formats for personal histories, writes personal historian Andrea Gross, who clearly outlines them here. You don't need to choose: You can do both. Peer Spirit , Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea's company, facilitates a group process with rotating leadership. On its site, you can download Basic Guidelines for Calling a Circle and other handouts, including one on Storycatching.
A professional knows what not to do. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.