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Credited with sparking the current memoir explosion, Mary Karr's The Liars' Club spent more than a year at the top of the New York Times list. She followed with two other smash bestsellers: Cherry and Lit, which were critical hits as well.For thirty years Karr has also taught the form, winning teaching prizes at Syracuse. (The writing program there produced such acclaimed authors as Cheryl Strayed, Keith Gessen, and Koren Zailckas.) In The Art of Memoir, she synthesizes her expertise as professor and therapy patient, writer and spiritual seeker, recovered alcoholic and "black belt sinner," providing a unique window into the mechanics and art of the form that is as irreverent, insightful, and entertaining as her own work in the genre.Anchored by excerpts from her favorite memoirs and anecdotes from fellow writers' experience, The Art of Memoir lays bare Karr's own process.



About the Author

Mary Karr

is an American poet, essayist and memoirist. She rose to fame in 1995 with the publication of her bestselling memoir . She is the Peck Professor of English Literature at Syracuse University. , published in 1995, was a New York Times bestseller for over a year, and was named one of the year's best books. It delves vividly and often humorously into her deeply troubled childhood, most of which was spent in a gritty, industrial section of Southeast Texas in the 1960s. She was encouraged to write her personal history by her friend, author Tobias Wolff, but has said she only took up the project when her marriage fell apart. She followed the book with another memoir, (2000) , about her late adolescence and early womanhood. A third memoir, , which she says details "my journey from blackbelt sinner and lifelong agnostic to unlikely Catholic," came out in November 2009. Karr thinks of herself first and foremost as a poet. She was a Guggenheim Fellow in poetry in 2005 and has won Pushcart prizes for both her poetry and her essays. Karr has published four volumes of poetry: (Wesleyan University Press, CT, 1987, in its New Poets series) , (New Directions NY, 1993, an original TPB) , (New Directions NY, 1998, an original TPB) , and her new volume (HarperCollins, NY 2006) . Her poems have appeared in major literary magazines such as Poetry, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic Monthly. She is a controversial figure in the American poetry "establishment," thanks to her Pushcart-award winning essay, "Against Decoration," which was originally published in the quarterly review Parnassus (1991) and later reprinted in . In this essay Karr took a stand in favor of content over poetic style. She argued emotions need to be directly expressed, and clarity should be a watch-word: characters are too obscure, the presented physical world is often "foggy" (that is imprecise) , references are "showy" (both non-germane and overused) , metaphors over-shadow expected meaning, and techniques of language (polysyllables, archaic words, intricate syntax, "yards of adjectives") only "slow a reader"'s understanding. Karr directly criticized well-known, well-connected, and award-winning poets such as , and (daughter of Pulitzer Prize winner ) . Karr favors controlled elegance to create transcendent poetic meaning out of not-quite-ordinary moments, presenting as a successful example. While some ornamentations Karr rails against are due to shifting taste, she believes much is due to the revolt against formalism which substituted sheer ornamentation for the discipline of meter. Karr notes said much the same thing, albeit more decorously, nearly fifty years ago. Her essay is meant to provide the technical detail to Jarrell's argument. As a result of this essay Karr earned a reputation for being both courageous and combative, a matured version of the BB-gun toting little hellion limn



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