Asked a bunch of readers and writers what their favorite memoirs are…yours?

Terry Wilson: “Wow, I have so many favorites: Liars’ Club, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, The Glass Castle, Angela’s Ashes, and even Hyperchondriac (Brian Frazer). In my opinion, they’re all very well written, they contain a lot of humor (not maudlin at all even though there are sad events), and really strong voice and POV character that I could sympathize with and relate to.”

Terry: “Oops, forgot “Just Kids” by Patti Smith!”

Erika Wurth: “I don’t read a lot of non-fiction but I did read Nick Flynn’s Another Night in Suck City & liked that a lot.”

Lynn Cline One of my favorites is The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr, and also The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Williams. These are both so honest, raw and poignant. Beautifully written…they cover hardscrabble lives, but the authors never become sentimental or overly wraught.

Susan Harries Aylward I love Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg, about his grandfather. The cover has a great photo of him on it.

Jeanetta Calhoun Mish All Over But the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg, too!

J.A. Lee Miriam, one of my favorites is Nat Hentoff’s Boston Boy. Another is Sam Kashner’s When I Was Cool: My Life at the Jack Kerouac School.

Melissa Allen ‎”Don’t Let’s Go To the Dogs Tonight,” by Alexandra Fuller.

Marie Longserre I’d say Andrea Fuller’s “Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs”, and Bragg’s “All Over But the Shoutin”, and of course “Angela’s Ashes”by that great Irish author What’s-his-Name, as well as his brother’s book.

Marie Longserre Oh yeah, “This Boy’s Life” also.

Sudasi J. Clement Reading “Just Kids” by Patti Smith and can’t put it down!

Linda Hunsaker ‎”Slackjaw”, “Quitting the Nairobi Trio”, and “Ruining it for Everybody” all by the great writer from Brooklyn Jim Knipfel.

2. Mary Karr: The Liars Club.
3. William Maxwell: So Long See You Tomorrow.
4. Harry Crews: Childhood, Autobiography of a Place

Carol Joyce Maltby ‎”Flowering Dusk” by Ella Young. She moves easily and observantly through many worlds: IRA members, artists, writers, Theosophists, and the fairy folk she could see and hear.

10 thoughts on “Asked a bunch of readers and writers what their favorite memoirs are…yours?

  1. Just read a totally gorgeous one. Philip Connors, _Fire Season : Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout_. One season on Apache Peak in the Black Range. Everything you want to know about the Gila Wilderness, wildland fire, and a taste for spending a third of every year in solitude… Wonderful writing.

    • Sanders’ book is neither memoir nor autobio. It’s poetry/fiction. And humorous. And really good.
      The sometimes poetry ‘n jazz group we work with took its name from the band in “Beatnik Glory.” Miriam (!) even once played with “The Luminous Animal.”

  2. I think “autobiography” is more ambitious, suggests that we’re going to get the whole life (at least eventually), while “memoir” is appropriate to just a chunk, e.g., childhood or adventures in New York City in the ’70s. Perhaps “memoirs” plural suggests multiple chunks. Also, I expect the writer’s experiences/feelings to be the focus of an autobiography, but it’s possible for him/her to focus more on surrounding people or events and recede to more of an observer’s role in a memoir.

  3. My own! I recently completed the fourth draft of a grief memoir, in which I discuss my feelings, and those of the surrounding community concerning witnessing the tragic and accidental death of my close friend after we were hit by a vehicle while riding our bicycles.

    and also Memoirs of an Italian Terrorist, by anonymous.

  4. Just read “Musical Chairs” by Jen Knox. Read it from start to finish without putting down. Mesmerizing, heartbreaking and yet some redemption at the end!
    Also loved Patti Smith and Mary Carr!

  5. Debra Marquart’s The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere. She’s good at spiraling story with internal narrative about growing up on a farm and knowing since she was five that she had to escape.

    Patricia Hampl’s The Florist’s Daughter. A deeply reflective, quiet yet poignant account of ordinary lives in the midwest. My greatest pleasure is to read a memoir that reflects the magnificence of ordinary life. It’s the prose and imagination of the writer that dances on the page.

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