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.
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
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 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 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.
“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
Bold new essays on how to craft a thrilling read--in any genre--from the bestselling author of The Dead Lands Anyone familiar with the meteoric rise of Benjamin Percy's career will surely have noticed a certain shift: After writing two short-story collections and a literary novel, he delivered the werewolf thriller Red Moon and the postapocalyptic epic The Dead Lands. Now, in his first book of nonfiction, Percy challenges the notion that literary and genre fiction are somehow mutually exclusive. The title essay is an ode to the kinds of books that make many readers fall in love with fiction: science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, horror, from J.R.R. Tolkien to Anne Rice, Ursula K. Le Guin to Stephen King. Percy's own academic experience banished many of these writers in the name of what is "literary" and what is "genre." Then he discovered Michael Chabon, Aimee Bender, Cormac McCarthy, Margaret Atwood, and others who employ techniques of genre fiction while remaining literary writers. In fifteen essays on the craft of fiction, Percy looks to disparate sources such as Jaws, Blood Meridian, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to discover how contemporary writers engage issues of plot, suspense, momentum, and the speculative, as well as character, setting, and dialogue. An urgent and entertaining missive on craft, Thrill Me brims with Percy's distinctive blend of anecdotes, advice, and close reading, all in the service of one dictum: Thrill the reader.
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.
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.
The geopolitics of empire had already prepared me for this...coloniality constructs outsides and insides—worlds to be chosen, disturbed, interpreted, and navigated—in order to live something like a real self. Internationally acclaimed poet and novelist Dionne Brand reflects on her early reading of colonial literature and how it makes Black being inanimate. She explores her encounters with colonial, imperialist, and racist tropes; the ways that practices of reading and writing are shaped by those narrative structures; and the challenges of writing a narrative of Black life that attends to its own expression and its own consciousness.
This is the first substantial reference work in English on the various forms that constitute "life writing." As this term suggests, the Encyclopedia explores not only autobiography and biography proper, but also letters, diaries, memoirs, family histories, case histories, and other ways in which individual lives have been recorded and structured. It includes entries on genres and subgenres, national and regional traditions from around the world, and important auto-biographical writers, as well as articles on related areas such as oral history, anthropology, testimonies, and the representation of life stories in non-verbal art forms.
From the international bestselling author of Bel Canto and The Dutch House, Ann Patchett, and the bestselling illustrator of the Fancy Nancy series, Robin Preiss Glasser, comes a hilarious and heartwarming story about a goat who keeps getting all the blame, but ultimately teaches one family about the importance of honesty and owning up to your mistakes. The Farmer family has a big problem! Every day their goat escapes, and every day, Mr. Farmer brings him back. So when things start to go awry on the farm, it must be the goat’s fault. Who’s to blame when Mrs. Farmer’s petunias are trampled? Or when all the cupcakes for Archie’s party disappear? And when the whole bucket of paint is spilled? Of course, everyone blames the goat! But is it really his fault? Find out in this epic collaboration between Ann Patchett and Robin Preiss Glasser, who create this perfect picture book about telling the truth.
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.
Mathematics made mouth-watering. Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension is an alternative math class. How can math help you choose a second-hand car? Why is a text message like a Sudoku? How much fun can you have with a barcode? Matt Parker explains that math is difficult because it's one of the few subjects that requires us to train our brains to think in an entirely new way, and to confront things with no direct analogy in everyday life--imaginary numbers, snowflakes that only exist in 196884 dimensions, and objects beyond infinity--and shows us why it's worth the effort. Starting with basic arithmetic and geometry, Things To Make and Do teaches us the math we never got to enjoy at school. Each chapter is structured around activities and thought experiments: we are invited to make a calculator out of dominoes, find out why wrapping oranges in plastic wrap is a good way to learn about higher dimensions, and discover what soap bubbles have to teach us about calculus. A series of incremental and hugely entertaining steps take us all the way from simple algebra to the most exotic and fascinating ideas in mathematics: Klein bottles, higher dimensional topology and the many different species of infinity, via unimaginably small pizza slices, Mobius strips and a thorough examination of The Sausage Conjecture. This lively, funny, and deeply intelligent book teaches math in a fun, interactive manner rather than by rote learning and exercises. You'll not look at the number 37 the same way again. And you just might take part in Mobius strip craftwork.
A mesmerizing debut collection that reveals what it's like to be a member of an elite special operations team, where missions take place behind night vision, ancient credos, and layers of secrecy. Moving between settings at home and abroad, in vivid language that reflects the wonder and discontent of war, Mackin draws the reader into a series of surreal, unsettling, and deeply human episodes. Told without a trace of bravado, and with a keen, Barry Hannah-like sense of the absurd, Mackin manages to capture the tragedy and heroism, degradation and exultation in the smallest details of war.
Is it possible to write a sidesplitting novel about the breakup of the perfect marriage? If the writer is Nora Ephron, the answer is a resounding yes. For in this inspired confection of adultery, revenge, group therapy, and pot roast, the creator of Sleepless in Seattle reminds us that comedy depends on anguish as surely as a proper gravy depends on flour and butter. Seven months into her pregnancy, Rachel Samstat discovers that her husband, Mark, is in love with another woman. The fact that the other woman has "a neck as long as an arm and a nose as long as a thumb and you should see her legs" is no consolation. Food sometimes is, though, since Rachel writes cookbooks for a living. And in between trying to win Mark back and loudly wishing him dead, Ephron's irrepressible heroine offers some of her favorite recipes. Heartburn is a sinfully delicious novel, as soul-satisfying as mashed potatoes and as airy as a perfect soufflé.
An autobiographical novel focuses on a young man trying to make sense of his place in the disjointed world that surrounds him.
First published in Malayalam in 1973, My Story, Kamala Das' sensational autobiography, shocked readers with its total disregard for mindless conventions and its fearless articulation of a subject still considered taboo. Depicting the author's intensely personal experiences in her passage to womanhood and shedding light on the hypocrisies that informed traditional society, this memoir was far ahead of its time and is now acknowledged as a bona fide masterpiece.
Whether it's fiction or non-fiction, a story is a story, and good story-telling can go a long way towards piquing the attention of your audience. The conundrum most people encounter when deciding to write their autobiography or memoir is that they know they have a great story to tell, but they're not sure how to tell it. If this is how you feel, then you're certainly not alone. The good news is that, while a compelling life story is something you either have or don't have, the technical know-how to put your story into words is something that you can learn. This book is designed specifically for individuals who wish to share their autobiography with the world but need some step-by-step assistance for getting it done. I'm going to provide you with specific guidance on how to structure your story, a sound overview of what's required in the construction of a memoir, and also valuable advice about the finer points of autobiography creation. Let's get started!
The Last Enchantments is a powerfully moving and lyrically written novel. A young American embarks on a year at Oxford and has an impassioned affair that will change his life forever After graduating from Yale, William Baker, scion of an old line patrician family, goes to work in presidential politics. But when the campaign into which he's poured his heart ends in disappointment, he decides to leave New York behind, along with the devoted, ambitious, and well-connected woman he's been in love with for the last four years. Will expects nothing more than a year off before resuming the comfortable life he's always known, but he's soon caught up in a whirlwind of unexpected friendships and romantic entanglements that threaten his safe plans. As he explores the heady social world of Oxford, he becomes fast friends with Tom, his snobbish but affable flat mate; Anil, an Indian economist with a deep love for gangster rap; Anneliese, a German historian obsessed with photography; and Timmo, whose chief ambition is to become a reality television star. What he's least prepared for is Sophie, a witty, beautiful and enigmatic woman who makes him question everything he knows about himself. For readers who made a classic of Richard Yates's A Good School, Charles Finch's The Last Enchantments is a sweeping novel about love and loss that redefines what it means to grow up as an American in the twenty-first century.