Mary Karr: To be honest I don't think I'm in a position to comment because anything I say is going to sound like sour grapes. I've been on committees like that and the choices are never easy. I'm sure they're just expressing their point of view and that's fine by me. Obviously I want everybody to think this is the best book of the year and give it every prize that it can get, but that's okay. You know, nobody remembers what won the National Book Award the year Michael Herr's "Dispatches" didn't win it, they just remember that Michael Herr didn't win it. Readers are going to determine the long-term quality of the work, and if people read it, then I win.
For thirty years, Mary Karr has taught the form of memoir, winning graduate teaching prizes for her highly selective seminar at Syracuse, where she mentored acclaimed authors like 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 a 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' experiences, The Art of Memoir lays bare Karr's own process along with anecdotes on dealing with family and friends and the probing of the dark spaces of her own skull. As she breaks down the key elements of great literary memoir, she breaks open our concepts of memory and identity and illuminates the cathartic power of reflecting on the past. Anybody with an inner life or complicated history, whether writer or reader, will relate.
Mary Karr is the author of three award-winning, bestselling memoirs: The Liars’ Club, Cherry, and Lit, as well as The Art of Memoir, also a New York Times bestseller. She received Guggenheim and Radcliffe Fellowships for poetry and is the Peck Professor of Literature at Syracuse University.