complete gratitude for the Booklist review of Handling the Truth

Thursday, August 1, 2013

National Book Award finalist Kephart, who has written several memoirs and teaches a college course on the subject, offers an exploration of the genre that is informative and enjoyable. Drawing on the work of dozens of great authors (Annie Dillard, Mary Karr, Jeanette Winterson) as well as student comments, Kephart dives deeply into all that memoir can offer writers while acknowledging the pitfalls of oversharing and naming high profile memoir-abusers. Her insights are thoughtful and erudite. “Real writers,” she says, “do not write to trump or abolish. They write . . . to rumble or howl, or because language is salvation or because they’ve been alive or because they have survived”. As instructive as Kephart’s book is, it is not a how-to but rather a careful argument for the value of memoir, a form that allows writers to know themselves and readers to join them in the journey. Intense, provocative, endearing, and kind, Handling the Truth recalls Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird (1995). The appendix alone is a reading course not to be missed. Delightful.
— Colleen Mondor


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