Spring Semester English 135.302 Begins, with words from Annie Dillard

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

We'll meet at Penn today—me and my new flock of young memoirists.  I've chosen, among many other things, to share the first page or two of Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.  What do these sentences tell us about the memoir form, I'll ask?  What do they free us, as writers, to do?

It's a question I might as well ask you:
I used to have a cat, an old fighting tom, who would jump through the open window by my bed in the middle of the night and land on my chest.  I'd half-awaken.  He'd stick his skull under my nose and purr, stinking of urine and blood. Some nights he kneaded my bare chest with his front paws, powerfully, arching his back, as if sharpening his claws, or pummeling a mother for milk. And some mornings I'd wake in daylight to find my body covered with paw prints in blood; I looked as though I'd been painted with roses.


Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

How many memoirs do you have them read?

Issues that come to mind when I think about writing memoir: Fear. Honesty. Permission. Where to begin. Self-examination. Interpretation.

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