Memorable Memoirs: Koren Zailckas’s “Fury”

Fury by Koren Zailckas

In the case of Fury, Koren Zailckas’ exceptional follow up to her best selling book Smashed: Story of a Drunken Childhood, the term “memoir” may be a bit of a misnomer. Although it does indeed chronicle many of her personal experiences, it is also a scholarly book that quotes and references numerous sources – very effectively. The topic is anger. We are introduced to the author as she is flying back to the states after a failed relationship with a British musician – a devastating ending that … [Read more...]

Memorable Memoirs: Rick Bragg’s “The Prince of Frogtown” and “All Over but the Shoutin’”

Rick Bragg's "The Prince of Frogtown"

I read Rick Bragg’s wonderful All Over but the Shoutin’ years ago, before I even knew I preferred - well even liked - reading memoirs. The story of growing up in poverty in Alabama with a devoted, loving, hard-working mom, and a mostly absent alcoholic father, it managed to be, by turns, excruciatingly sad, laugh-out-loud funny, hopeless and life-affirming at the same time. If you love beautiful prose for prose’s sake, you will most likely enjoy this Pulitzer Prize winning author’s writing, with … [Read more...]

Memorable Memoirs: Barbara Robinette Moss’s “Change Me into Zeus’s Daughter”

Barbara Robinette Moss's Change Me into Zeus's Daughter

Change Me into Zeus's Daughter is an examination of the author’s youth; growing up verbally and physically abused by her alcoholic father, willing to risk eating poisoned corn to satiate her endless hunger, and sharing a ramshackle home with her mom and eight siblings in rural Alabama. Moss, with pitch perfect prose, describes a father who is gone more than around, which is mostly preferable given his propensity for inflicting pain: I had just turned seven years and didn’t think Dad’s … [Read more...]

Ned’s Reading: Bill Clegg’s “Ninety Days”

Bill Clegg's Ninety Days

This book is why I love reading memoirs – well, great memoirs. If done well, I feel like I’ve just sat down with the author and had a conversation about his or her life. And not a whole life, but a portion of particular significance. Bill Clegg had a successful literary agency in New York City, which he owned with a friend. In too short a time, thanks to a near lethal addiction to drugs and alcohol (chronicled in his first memoir, Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man), Clegg wrecks the … [Read more...]