Thursday, September 21, 2017
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I recently watched the movie, “No One’s Perfect” and decided I had to get the book it was based on, the autobiography of a man born with no arms or legs. Calhan, Colorado high school physical education equipment. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) The movie showed the author during one year of teaching, how he related to his students, how he managed his considerable challenges, which were less about his physical needs than the reaction of students and teachers alike to him. As movies often do, it turned out the movie had little to do with the book. Instead of focusing on a single year of teaching,... (Read More ...)

Of course, Jo Maeder didn’t really marry her mother. Photo of Jo Maeder with Mama Jo, subject of the memoir “When I Married My Mother” (Photo credit: Wikipedia) But, for lack of a father, she did everything a spouse would have done to take care of her mother, when, at 79, it became clear her mother could no longer live alone. She left her career as a DJ in New York City, bought and refurbished a house in North Carolina to be near her brother, and moved her mother out of Richmond to set up housekeeping together. Such a decision usually involves convincing a parent they need taking... (Read More ...)

Most memoir instructors talk about the form of writing. Portrait of Jane Austen, from the memoir by J. E. Austen-Leigh. All other portraits of Austen are generally based on this, which is itself based on a sketch by Cassandra Austen (Photo credit: Wikipedia) What is the story arc? What are the facts about your life? What stories do you remember from writing prompts? Judith Barrington, author of Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art, says you start with your passion and add your perspective about your life’s events. Poet, memoirist and memoir-writing instructor, Barrington says if you are writing... (Read More ...)

Română: Nicolae Tonitza (1886 – 1940) – Mama şi copilul. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Every fall, for years, my mother, who lived in Atlanta, went to a book-signing by Lewis Grizzard. Grizzard was a famously funny Southern writer and comedian who wrote about growing up in Moreland, Georgia, a town of 300, about 40 miles southwest of Atlanta. “My son-in-law grew up in Moreland, too.” “I think he might have known you. I’m getting this book for him for Christmas.” “Of course, I knew David. His mother and mine were both teachers in Moreland.’ “Tell him I... (Read More ...)

It is, perhaps, no surprise that a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist from the New York Times can write about his Southern family in a way that makes you love them and forgive them their trespasses. The Pulitzer Prize gold medal award (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Rick Bragg rose from reporting for his high school newspaper to being a journalist in the Atlanta bureau of the New York Times  and best-selling author. He comes to understand, if not forgive, why his father was broken by the horror of the Korean War and tried to drown his memories in alcohol and anger. He is in awe of the dogged work ethic... (Read More ...)

I think one of the signs that you have grown up is when you forgive your parents for being human. Parents with child Statue, Hrobákova street, Petržalka, Bratislava (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Lauretta Hannon, author of “The Cracker Queen,” describes her own life through the lens of her parents’ and grandparents’ lives. She explains the difficult childhoods her parents had, leading them to make their own mistakes in parenting. In a book filled with insight, humor and pathos, probably the statement that sums up the reason for her parents’ poor parenting skills best was, “they should... (Read More ...)

A Cruel Calm If you were writing a memoir about your mother set between World Wars I and II, how would you set the stage? Amelia Earhart and Lockheed Electra 10E NR16020 c. 1937 (original source: http://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/earhart.newdocs/earhart.electra.jpeg) (Photo credit: Wikipedia) For that matter, if you were writing about your Mom, how would you pick a time frame to focus on? How much history would you include and how would you tell it? What might make you decide to write it as historical fiction instead of a biography? Patricia Daly-Lipe, who lost her mother at 18, used fiction and... (Read More ...)

The First Century It is perhaps telling that Martha Ann Miller and her husband signed up for sailing lessons as soon as they both retired in their 60s. Scarlet Fever 2007 Photographer: Alicia Williams (Photo credit: Wikipedia) And, she continued on with a trip to Israel they had both planned after he died suddenly of a heart attack at 80. It is this determination to wring every bit of life out of every day that keeps readers glued to Miller’s autobiography, “The First Century: And Not Ready For the Rocking Chair Yet.” Told with the no-nonsense style I recognize in a fellow Midwesterner, Miller... (Read More ...)

Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal Her mother tossed the journal on the kitchen table as though it were a newspaper, to be read at her leisure. Raab was 43. Diana Raab (Photo credit: Wikipedia It was the treasured journal her grandmother had written. It described the wartime experiences of a child who would later take her life. Raab found her grandmother in her bedroom, a suicide from an overdose of pills. Raab was ten. Reading about Raab’s panic and desolation on finding the one adult whose world she was the center of helped me understand what must have been going... (Read More ...)

The beaches at Grand Mere State Park. On the left you see the beaches and dunes and to the right you can see Lake Michigan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Memory Lake.  Summer Camp, Mothers and Daughters. When I was in college, my boyfriend (and husband less than a year later) took me camping with another couple. I didn’t know that Michigan had sand dunes, but we drove the two hours from Lansing to Stevensville, on Lake Michigan, near Grand Mere State Park, and set up our tents. It was dark by the time we got there and hauled tents and food up to the top of the dune. The other girl and I walked... (Read More ...)