Nonfiction

book review

Review: “Autobiography of a Face” by Lucy Grealy

Update: April 2022 When Lucy Grealy died in December 2002 at the age of 39, her death was ruled an accidental overdose. Later her close friend, novelist Ann Patchett, commemorated their relationship in the memoir Truth and Beauty: A Friendship.    I wrote my review (below) of Grealy’s memoir before her death. Books by Lucy …

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book review

Review: “Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir”

Zinsser, William (ed.). Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of MemoirHoughton Mifflin Company, 1987Hardcover, 166 pagesISBN 0-395-44526-4 This book originated as a series of talks sponsored by the Book-of-the-Month Club, Inc., and presented at The New York Public Library in the winter of 1986. The book contains a memoir and introduction by William Zinsser, …

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book review

Review: “When Memory Speaks” by Jill Ker Conway

Conway, Jill Ker. When Memory Speaks: Reflections on Autobiography Alfred A. Knopf, 1998Hardcover, 205 pagesISBN 0-679-44593-5 This book opens with the question “Why is autobiography the most popular form of fiction for modern readers?” (p. 3). The reason, Conway tell us, is that “We want to know how the world looks from inside another person’s experience, …

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book review

Review: “The Liars’ Club” by Mary Karr

Karr, Mary. The Liars’ Club: A Memoir Viking, 1995Hardcover, 320 pagesISBN 0-670-85053 Recommended Poet Mary Karr grew up in an East Texas town, where her Daddy, like everyone else’s daddy, worked at the oil refinery. After work the men would congregate at the American Legion Bar and swap stories, a gathering that became known as the …

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book review

Review: “Undaunted Courage” by Stephen Ambrose

Ambrose, Stephen E. Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West Simon & Schuster, 1996Hardcover, 496 pagesISBN 0-684-81107-3 Recommended In Undaunted Courage Ambrose has managed to do the nearly impossible: create a book that is accessible to both the academic community and the general public. For the scholarly reader, all the …

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book review

Review: “The Color of Water” by James McBride

McBride, James. The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother Riverhead Books, 1996Hardcover, 228 pagesISBN 1-57322-022-1 Recommended As a young boy James McBride recognized that his mother was different: “Gradually . . . I began to notice something about my mother, that she looked nothing like the other kids’ mothers. In fact, …

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book review

Review: “Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt

McCourt, Frank. Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir Scribner, 1996Paperback, 364 pagesISBN 0-684-87435-0 Highly Recommended Frank McCourt’s memoir about his childhood well deserves all the accolades that have been heaped upon it. When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly …

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Review: “In Contempt” by Christopher Darden

Darden, Christopher, with Jess Walter. In Contempt HarperCollins, 1996Hardcover, 387 pages ISBN 0-06-039183-9 Other than the victims’ families, few people were as visibly shaken by the verdict in the O.J. Simpson trial as prosecutor Christopher Darden. For him, that trial was a true trial by fire, not merely his job but an undertaking that forced him to …

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Review: “Dead by Sunset” by Ann Rule

Rule, Ann. Dead by Sunset Simon & Schuster, 1995Hardcover, 429 pagesISBN 0-684-80205-8 In this true-crime book Ann Rule tells the story of Cheryl Keeton, who was bludgeoned to death and left in her Toyota van on the highway so that an accident would cover her murder, in September, 1986, in Portland, Oregon. Rule also tells the …

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book review

Review: “Studying the Novel” by Jeremy Hawthorn

Hawthorn, Jeremy. Studying the Novel: An IntroductionEdward Arnold, 2nd edition (1992, reprinted 1996)Paperback, 146 pages ISBN 0-340-56403-2 This slim volume is a good choice for book-discussion group members who appreciate good books but want to sharpen their reading and discussion skills. The premise of Hawthorn’s book is that “in the course of studying novels we must …

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