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REVIEW of Writing the Memoir


The current renaissance in literary memoirs pleases readers and inspires writers, while raising a number of questions about this most fluid and open-ended of genres. Barrington recognizes and addresses both the memoir's great appeal and the issues it raises pertaining to voice, structure, the transformation of fact into truth, and the elevation of personal experience and revelation into art. Like many fellow contemporary memoirists, Barrington is a poet who found herself "needing the expansiveness of prose," but as soon as she began writing her memoir, she realized how challenging a form it is and how unsettling the act of writing about one's life so openly, without the artifice of poetry or the mask of fiction, can be. After asking the key question, "What were the rules of memoir anyway?" she ended up answering it with this intelligent and insightful book, which combines stimulating literary analysis with a great deal of practical information and excellent advice.

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