How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
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Named a Best Book by: TIME, Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Wired, Esquire, Buzzfeed, New York Public Library, Boston Globe, The Paris Review, Mother Jones,The A.V. Club, Out Magazine, Book Riot, Electric Literature, PopSugar, The Rumpus, My Republica, Paste, Bitch, Library Journal, Flavorwire, Bustle, Christian Science Monitor, Shelf Awareness, Tor.com, Entertainment Cheat Sheet, Roads and Kingdoms, Chicago Public Library, Hyphen Magazine, Entropy Magazine,The Chicago Review of Books, The Coil, iBooks, and Washington Independent Review of Books Winner of the Publishing Triangle's Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction * Recipient of the Lambda Literary Trustees' Award Finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay * Finalist for a Lambda Literary Award for Gay Memoir/Biography From the author of The Queen of the Night, an essay collection exploring his education as a man, writer, and activist—and how we form our identities in life and in art. As a novelist, Alexander Chee has been described as “masterful” by Roxane Gay, “incendiary” by the New York Times, and "brilliant" by the Washington Post. With How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, his first collection of nonfiction, he’s sure to secure his place as one of the finest essayists of his generation as well. How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is the author’s manifesto on the entangling of life, literature, and politics, and how the lessons learned from a life spent reading and writing fiction have changed him. In these essays, he grows from student to teacher, reader to writer, and reckons with his identities as a son, a gay man, a Korean American, an artist, an activist, a lover, and a friend. He examines some of the most formative experiences of his life and the nation’s history, including his father’s death, the AIDS crisis, 9/11, the jobs that supported his writing—Tarot-reading, bookselling, cater-waiting for William F. Buckley—the writing of his first novel, Edinburgh, and the election of Donald Trump. By turns commanding, heartbreaking, and wry, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel asks questions about how we create ourselves in life and in art, and how to fight when our dearest truths are under attack.
Shortlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay Named a Best Book of 2018 by TIME, Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, Wired, Esquire, Buzzfeed, Paste, Bitch, Bustle, The Chicago Review of Books and iBooks As a novelist, Alexander Chee has been described as 'masterful' by Roxane Gay, 'incendiary' by the New York Times, and 'brilliant' by the Washington Post. With How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, his first collection of nonfiction, he secures his place as one of the finest essayists of his generation. How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is the author's exploration of the entangling of life, literature and politics, and how the lessons learned from a life spent reading and writing fiction have changed him. In these interconnected essays he constructs a self, growing from student to teacher, reader to writer, and reckoning with his identities as a son, a gay man, a Korean American, an artist, an activist, a lover and a friend. He examines some of the most formative experiences of his life and America's history, including his father's death, the AIDS crisis, 9/11, the jobs that supported his writing – Tarot-reading, bookselling, cater-waiting for William F. Buckley – the writing of his first novel, Edinburgh, and the election of Donald Trump. By turns commanding, heartbreaking and wry, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel asks questions about how we create ourselves in life and in art, and how to fight when our dearest truths are under attack.
National Bestseller New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice | An Indie Next Pick A Best Book of the Year from NPR, Boston Globe, Buzzfeed, Esquire, San Francisco Chronicle,Time Out, Self, Jezebel, The Portland Mercury, Electric Literature, and Entropy Magazine “It just sounds terrific. It sounds like opera.” —Joan Acocella, The New Yorker “Sprawling, soaring, bawdy, and plotted like a fine embroidery.” —Scott Simon, NPR “Dazzling.” —Wall Street Journal | “A brilliant performance.” —Washington Post “Sweeping, richly detailed.” —People | “Masterful.” —Wired | “Spellbinding.” —BuzzFeed A “wild opera of a novel,”* The Queen of the Night tells the mesmerizing story of Lilliet Berne, an orphan who left the American frontier for Europe and was swept into the glamour and terror of Second Empire France. She became a sensation of the Paris Opera, with every accolade but an original role—her chance at immortality. When one is offered to her, she finds the libretto is based on her deepest secret, something only four people have ever known. But who betrayed her? With “epic sweep, gorgeous language, and haunting details,”** Alexander Chee shares Lilliet’s cunning transformation from circus rider to courtesan to legendary soprano, retracing the path that led to the role that could secure her reputation—or destroy her with the secrets it reveals. “If Lilliet Berne were a man, she might have been what nineteenth-century novels would call a swashbuckler: the kind of destiny-courting, death-defying character who finds intrigue and peril (and somehow, always, a fantastic pair of pantaloons) around every corner.” —Entertainment Weekly
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year Winner of the James Michener/Copernicus Society Fellowship Prize Lambda Literary Foundation Editor’s Choice Award “[Chee] says volumes with just a few incendiary words.” —New York Times “Arresting . . . profound and poetic . . . Chee’s voice is worth listening to.” —San Francisco Chronicle “Alexander Chee gets my vote for the best new novelist I’ve read in some time. Edinburgh is moody, dramatic—and pure.” —Edmund White Twelve-year-old Fee is a shy Korean American boy and a newly named section leader of the first sopranos in his local boys’ choir. But when Fee learns how the director treats his section leaders, he is so ashamed he says nothing of the abuse, not even when Peter, his best friend, is in line to be next. When the director is arrested, Fee tries to forgive himself for his silence. But when Peter takes his own life, Fee blames only himself. In the years that follow he slowly builds a new life, teaching near his hometown. There he meets a young student who is the picture of Peter and is forced to confront the past he believed was gone. Told with “the force of a dream and the heft of a life,”* Edinburgh marked Chee “as a major talent whose career will bear watching” (Publishers Weekly). “A coming-of-age tale in the grand Romantic tradition, where passions run high, Cupid stalks Psyche, and love shares the dance floor with death . . . A lovely, nuanced, never predictable portrait of a creative soul in the throes of becoming.” —Washington Post
A true essay is “something hazarded, not definitive, not authoritative; something ventured on the basis of the author’s personal experience and subjectivity,” writes guest editor Jonathan Franzen in his introduction. However, his main criterion for selecting The Best American Essays 2016 was, in a word, risk. Whether the risks involved championing an unpopular opinion, the possibility of ruining a professional career, or irrevocably offending family, for Franzen, “the writer has to be like the firefighter, whose job, while everyone else is fleeing the flames, is to run straight into them.” The Best American Essays 2016 includes ALEXANDER CHEE, PAUL CRENSHAW, JAQUIRA DÍAZ, LAURA KIPNIS, AMITAVA KUMAR, SEBASTIAN JUNGER, JOYCE CAROL OATES, OLIVER SACKS, THOMAS CHATTERTON WILLIAMS and others JONATHAN FRANZEN, guest editor, is the author of five novels, most recently Purity, and five works of nonfiction and translation, including Farther Away and The Kraus Project. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the German Akademie der Künste, and the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. ROBERT ATWAN, the series editor of The Best American Essays since its inception in 1986, has published on a wide variety of subjects, from American advertising and early photography to ancient divination and Shakespeare. His criticism, essays, humor, poetry, and fiction have appeared in numerous periodicals nationwide.
An insightful, achingly funny coming-of-age story as well as a brilliant dissection of class, race, and gender in a hothouse of adolescent angst and ambition. Lee Fiora is an intelligent, observant fourteen-year-old when her father drops her off in front of her dorm at the prestigious Ault School in Massachusetts. She leaves her animated, affectionate family in South Bend, Indiana, at least in part because of the boarding school’s glossy brochure, in which boys in sweaters chat in front of old brick buildings, girls in kilts hold lacrosse sticks on pristinely mown athletic fields, and everyone sings hymns in chapel. As Lee soon learns, Ault is a cloistered world of jaded, attractive teenagers who spend summers on Nantucket and speak in their own clever shorthand. Both intimidated and fascinated by her classmates, Lee becomes a shrewd observer of—and, ultimately, a participant in—their rituals and mores. As a scholarship student, she constantly feels like an outsider and is both drawn to and repelled by other loners. By the time she’s a senior, Lee has created a hard-won place for herself at Ault. But when her behavior takes a self-destructive and highly public turn, her carefully crafted identity within the community is shattered. Ultimately, Lee’s experiences—complicated relationships with teachers; intense friendships with other girls; an all-consuming preoccupation with a classmate who is less than a boyfriend and more than a crush; conflicts with her parents, from whom Lee feels increasingly distant—coalesce into a singular portrait of the painful and thrilling adolescence universal to us all. BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Curtis Sittenfeld's Sisterland. Praise for Prep “Curtis Sittenfeld is a young writer with a crazy amount of talent. Her sharp and economical prose reminds us of Joan Didion and Tobias Wolff. Like them, she has a sly and potent wit, which cuts unexpectedly—but often—through the placid surface of her prose. Her voice is strong and clear, her moral compass steady; I’d believe anything she told me.”—Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius “Prep’s every sentence rings true. Sittenfeld is a rising star.”—Wally Lamb, author of She’s Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True
A guide to the art of personal writing, by the author of Fierce Attachments and The End of the Novel of Love All narrative writing must pull from the raw material of life a tale that will shape experience, transform event, deliver a bit of wisdom. In a story or a novel the "I" who tells this tale can be, and often is, an unreliable narrator but in nonfiction the reader must always be persuaded that the narrator is speaking truth. How does one pull from one's own boring, agitated self the truth-speaker who will tell the story a personal narrative needs to tell? That is the question The Situation and the Story asks--and answers. Taking us on a reading tour of some of the best memoirs and essays of the past hundred years, Gornick traces the changing idea of self that has dominated the century, and demonstrates the enduring truth-speaker to be found in the work of writers as diverse as Edmund Gosse, Joan Didion, Oscar Wilde, James Baldwin, or Marguerite Duras. This book, which grew out of fifteen years teaching in MFA programs, is itself a model of the lucid intelligence that has made Gornick one of our most admired writers of nonfiction. In it, she teaches us to write by teaching us how to read: how to recognize truth when we hear it in the writing of others and in our own.
Named one of the most anticipated books of the year by Entertainment Weekly, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Paste, Bookriot, and Library Journal. A novel of startling intimacy, violence, and mercy among friends in a Midwestern university town, from an electric new voice. A novel of rare emotional power that excavates the social intricacies of a late-summer weekend—and a lifetime of buried pain. Almost everything about Wallace, an introverted African-American transplant from Alabama, is at odds with the lakeside Midwestern university town where he is working toward a biochem degree. For reasons of self-preservation, Wallace has enforced a wary distance even within his own circle of friends—some dating each other, some dating women, some feigning straightness. But a series of confrontations with colleagues, and an unexpected encounter with a young straight man, conspire to fracture his defenses, while revealing hidden currents of resentment and desire that threaten the equilibrium of their community. Real Life is a gut punch of a novel, a story that asks if it's ever really possible to overcome our private wounds and buried histories—and at what cost.
“A ravishingly strange and gorgeous book about a dog that’s really about life and everything there is…astonishing.” —Helen Macdonald, New York Times-bestselling author of H Is for Hawk In 1990, poet Eileen Myles chose Rosie from a litter of pit bulls on the street, and their connection instantly became central to the writer's life and work. During the course of their sixteen years together, Myles was madly devoted to the dog’s well-being, especially in her final days. Starting from the emptiness following Rosie's death, Afterglow launches a heartfelt and fabulist investigation into the true nature of the bond between pet and pet owner. Through this lens, we witness Myles’s experiences with intimacy and spirituality, celebrity and politics, alcoholism and recovery, fathers and family history, as well as the fantastical myths we spin to get to the heart of grief. Moving from an imaginary talk show where Rosie is interviewed by Myles’s childhood puppet to a critical reenactment of the night Rosie mated with another pit bull, from lyrical transcriptions of their walks to Rosie’s enlightened narration from the afterlife, Afterglow illuminates all that it can mean when we dedicate our existence to a dog. “Myles gets at something no other dog book I’ve read has gotten at quite this distinctly: The sense of wordless connection and spiritual expansion you feel when you love and are loved by a creature who’s not human…raw and affecting.” ?Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air, NPR
A stunning collection that traverses the borders of culture and time, from the 2011 winner of the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award In House of Lords and Commons, the revelatory and vital new collection of poems from the winner of the 2013 Whiting Writers’ Award in poetry, Ishion Hutchinson returns to the difficult beauty of the Jamaican landscape with remarkable lyric precision. Here, the poet holds his world in full focus but at an astonishing angle: from the violence of the seventeenth-century English Civil War as refracted through a mythic sea wanderer, right down to the dark interior of love. These poems arrange the contemporary continuum of home and abroad into a wonderment of cracked narrative sequences and tumultuous personae. With ears tuned to the vernacular, the collection vividly binds us to what is terrifying about happiness, loss, and the lure of the sea. House of Lords and Commons testifies to the particular courage it takes to wade unsettled, uncertain, and unfettered in the wake of our shared human experience.
Late in his life, former president Lyndon B. Johnson told a reporter that he didn’t believe the Warren Commission’s finding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing President John F. Kennedy. Johnson thought Cuban president Fidel Castro was behind it. After all, Johnson said, Kennedy was running “a damned Murder, Inc., in the Caribbean,” giving Castro reason to retaliate. Murder, Inc., tells the story of the CIA’s assassination operations under Kennedy up to his own assassination and beyond. James H. Johnston was a lawyer for the Senate Intelligence Committee in 1975, which investigated and first reported on the Castro assassination plots and their relation to Kennedy’s murder. Johnston examines how the CIA steered the Warren Commission and later investigations away from connecting its own assassination operations to Kennedy’s murder. He also looks at the effect this strategy had on the Warren Commission’s conclusions that assassin Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and that there was no foreign conspiracy. Sourced from in-depth research into the “secret files” declassified by the JFK Records Act and now stored in the National Archives and Records Administration, Murder, Inc. is the first book to narrate in detail the CIA’s plots against Castro and to delve into the question of why retaliation by Castro against Kennedy was not investigated.
Writing autobiography is a complicated, often fraught activity for both writer and reader. We can find many recent examples of the way such writing calls into question the author's truthfulness or their authority to present as definitive their 'version' of a particular event or portion of their lives. Drawing upon a wide range of late twentieth and early twenty-first-century autobiographical writing, The Fiction of Autobiography examines key aspects of autobiography from the interrelated perspectives of author, reader, critic and scholar, to reconsider how we view this form of writing, and its relationship to the way we understand and construct identity. Maftei considers recent cases and texts such as Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking and Frey's A Million Little Pieces alongside older texts such as Proust's In Search of Lost Time ̧ Nabokov's Speak, Memory and Stein's The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. In part, this is to emphasise that key issues reappear and arise over decades and centuries, and that texts distanced by time can speak to each other thoughtfully and poignantly.
Annie Dillard has written eleven books, including the memoir of her parents, An American Childhood; the Northwest pioneer epic The Living; and the nonfiction narrative Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. A gregarious recluse, she is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
From the acclaimed, bestselling author of 2 beloved classics, Adult Onset is a powerful drama about motherhood, the dark undercurrents that break and hold families together, and the power and pressures of love. Mary Rose MacKinnon--nicknamed MR or "Mister"--is a successful YA author who has made enough from her writing to semi-retire in her early 40s. She lives in a comfortable Toronto neighbourhood with her partner, Hilary, a busy theatre director, and their 2 young children, Matthew and Maggie, trying valiantly and often hilariously to balance her creative pursuits with domestic demands, and the various challenges that (mostly) solo parenting presents. As a child, Mary Rose suffered from an illness, long since cured and "filed separately" in her mind. But as her frustrations mount, she experiences a flare-up of forgotten symptoms which compel her to rethink her memories of her own childhood and her relationship with her parents. With her world threatening to unravel, the spectre of domestic violence raises its head with dangerous implications for her life and that of her own children.
"None of this is real and all of it is true." --Jim Carrey From movie star Jim Carrey and novelist Dana Vachon, a fearless and semi-autobiographical novel about acting, Hollywood, agents, celebrity, privilege, friendship, romance, addiction to relevance, fear of personal erasure, destruction of persona, our "one big soul," Canada, and apocalypses within and without. Meet Jim Carrey. Sure, he's an insanely successful and beloved movie star drowning in wealth and privilege--but he's also lonely. Maybe past his prime. Maybe even...getting fat? He's tried diets, gurus, and cuddlin' with his military-grade Israeli guard dogs, but nothing seems to lift the cloud of emptiness and ennui. Even the advice of his best friend, actor and dinosaur skull collector, Nicolas Cage, isn't enough to pull Carrey out of his slump. Then Jim meets Georgie: ruthless ingénue, love of his life. And thanks to auteur screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, he has a role to play in a boundary-pushing new picture that may help him uncover a whole new side to himself. Finally, his Oscar vehicle! Things are looking up. But the universe has other plans. Memoirs and Misinformation is a fearless semi-autobiographical novel, a deconstruction of persona. In it, Jim Carrey and Dana Vachon have fashioned a story about acting, Hollywood, agents, celebrity, privilege, friendship, romance, addiction to relevance, fear of personal erasure, our "one big soul," Canada, and a cataclysmic ending of the world--apocalypses within and without.
Originally published by: Fort Collins, Colorado: Cottonwood Press under the title Writing your life: an easy-to-follow guide to writing an autobiography, 1998.
Through a series of poems, a young girl chronicles the life-changing year of 1975, when she, her mother, and her brothers leave Vietnam and resettle in Alabama.
Cidade de Deus, the City of God ... welcome to one of Rio's most notorious slums. A place where the streets are awash with drugs, where violence can erupt at any moment, over drugs, money ... and love... but also where the samba beat rocks til dawn, where the women are the most beautiful on earth, and where one young man wants to escape his background and become a photographer. Paulo Lins was born in Rio de Janeiro and at age seven moved to the 'City of God' housing project. He escaped the cycle of violence there to become an internationally celebrated writer, and still lives in Rio. This novel is the result of extended research in the housing project where Lins was raised. He spent eight years interviewing people and researching the drug trafficking and gang warfare that marked the history of the neighbourhood in the 1970s and 80s. Based on a true story, this is a sprawling, magnificently told epic about the history of gang life in Rio's favelas. The original novel of the hugely acclaimed film.
This breathtaking debut novel examines the impact of traumatic childhood experiences and the fragile line between past and present. Exquisitely nuanced and profoundly intimate, The Night Child is a story of resilience, hope, and the capacity of the mind, body, and spirit to save itself despite all odds. Nora Brown teaches high school English and lives a quiet life in Seattle with her husband and six-year-old daughter. But one November day, moments after dismissing her class, a girl's face appears above the students' desks-"a wild numinous face with startling blue eyes, a face floating on top of shapeless drapes of purples and blues where arms and legs should have been. Terror rushes through Nora's body-the kind of raw terror you feel when there's no way out, when every cell in your body, your entire body, is on fire-when you think you might die." Twenty-four hours later, while on Thanksgiving vacation, the face appears again. Shaken and unsteady, Nora meets with neurologists and eventually, a psychiatrist. As the story progresses, a terrible secret is discovered-a secret that pushes Nora toward an even deeper psychological breakdown. "The Night Child is a powerful, beautifully written, transformative novel that struck a rare chord with me. When I recall Nora's journey, I am affected viscerally, as if I were reliving her painful memories alongside her. 'Must-read' is not a phrase I use often; I am using it now: you must read this book!"-Garth Stein, New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain "Anna Quinn writes with bright and assured authority, making this a remarkable debut novel you won't soon forget. Her haunting story, expertly and lovingly crafted, leaves you breathless with both terror and hope."-Susan Wiggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author "I loved this book so much...I entered Quinn's book and lost myself and exited her book changed. She is hanging with the big dogs with this work...like Jodi Picoult and Ann Patchett."-Lidia Yuknavitch, bestselling author of The Book of Joan "The Night Child is an exhilarating debut: Quinn immediately pulls the reader in and doesn't let go until the final scene. She commands each page and expertly dives into the inner working of a broken mind. This fast-paced, riveting novel of coping with the past while trying to salvage life in the present is hard to put down." -Booklist
“An immersive, heartbreaking story about war, passion, and the road not taken.” — People "One of the most beautiful and moving love stories you’ll read this year." — Nylon Magazine NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • The New York Post • Vulture • Real Simple • Bustle • Nylon • Thrillist • Mental Floss • Self magazine • Booklist • Refinery 29 An emotionally riveting debut novel about war, family, and forbidden love—the unforgettable saga of two ill-fated lovers in Korea and the heartbreaking choices they’re forced to make in the years surrounding the civil war that still haunts us today. When the communist-backed army from the north invades her home, sixteen-year-old Haemi Lee, along with her widowed mother and ailing brother, is forced to flee to a refugee camp along the coast. For a few hours each night, she escapes her family’s makeshift home and tragic circumstances with her childhood friend, Kyunghwan. Focused on finishing school, Kyunghwan doesn’t realize his older and wealthier cousin, Jisoo, has his sights set on the beautiful and spirited Haemi—and is determined to marry her before joining the fight. But as Haemi becomes a wife, then a mother, her decision to forsake the boy she always loved for the security of her family sets off a dramatic saga that will have profound effects for generations to come. Richly told and deeply moving, If You Leave Me is a stunning portrait of war and refugee life, a passionate and timeless romance, and a heartrending exploration of one woman’s longing for autonomy in a rapidly changing world.