today is the day, the winner is, and thank you, Serena, for this amazing review of Handling the Truth

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

I took my corporate work outside for an hour yesterday—needed the air, needed to get my heart to stop pounding so hard. This little fellow greeted me. "What the heck are you up to?" he said.

Today I'm up to releasing Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir. I cannot believe this day has finally come. I know that there have been other Beth books before this one—and certainly this book could not have been written without the knowledge I'd gained from writing the memoirs, the poetry, the history, the fiction, too. Still, somehow, Handling feels like the very first book. The jangle of nerves. The hopes. That sense of expectation. Here, in this book, are the things I've learned, the things I've taught, the books I've loved, and the students who inspire me. Also my mother, father, husband, son.

It's all here. Jangles. Tangles. Nerves.

That is one of the reasons I am particularly grateful to Serena Agusto-Cox for helping me celebrate this day with her absolutely beautiful reflections on this book. Serena came to my event in Alexandria, VA, and bought her copy there. She has been gracious ever since, sending me notes as she read through. I know how much time she spent putting together her review, and so, for that reason especially, I encourage you to read it here.

My favorite part:
She shares her favorite places, her favorite music, her favorite memoirs, and her students’ work, and she begs that anyone interested in writing memoir do it because the story must be told and is relate-able to someone outside the self.  Writing the genre requires the writer to be as honest with herself as she can be and to fill the gaps in memory with facts from documents or cross-referencing conversations and moments with those that share the memory.  Reading this reference memoir is like getting to know Kephart on a personal level, but it’s also about getting to know the writer inside you — the one that wants to write the book but doesn’t know where to start.  Although this advice is geared toward those who wish to write their own personal histories, there is sage advice for other writers — fiction writers struggling with what tense to put their book in, for example.
Thank you to all of you who have cheered me on in this endeavor. Thank you to those who will join me this evening at the Free Library of Philadelphia, 7:30, for a reading and workshop. Those who want to know more about the book—or read my students' work, or read about new memoirs I've loved, or see some of the reviews—please visit this dedicated Handling the Truth page

Finally, a few days ago, I put into motion a Handling contest, asking readers to name their favorite memoirs. Such intriguing titles came forth—everything from Crossing the Moon, Angela's Ashes, Wild, and The Thing About Life is That One Day You'll Be Dead to The Glass Castle, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, two Joan Didions, and several mentions of Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions. But the winner, randomly chosen (and not by me) is .... Kim Nastick, who chose Joan Didion's Blue Nights, a book I do write about in Handling.

Kim, send me a note and I'll get you a signed copy.


Serena said...

Congrats to the winner of Handling the Truth. Thanks for showcasing part of the review. There are so many ways I could have praised the book, but I'm happy with the final review.

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