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Mary Karr’s favorite memoirists

The boss of memoir opens up about her new book and her favorite authors.

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mary karrMary Karr’s new book The Art of Memoir is part how-to, part musing and part memoir from the non-elected, but certainly crowd favorite, boss of the genre. The Writer’s Nicki Porter catches up with Karr in the November issue to discuss the book, tapping into memories and various forms of “bullshit.” Here is a sneak peek:

The day Karr and I were set to talk by phone, I had the wrong number. I spent 30 minutes doing frantic Google searches to find the right one. Our interview started late. Karr was driving. Sirens shrieked in the background. She needed coffee. I needed Xanax.

“Tell me about the new book,” I say.

“Wait a minute,” Karr says. “I thought this was supposed to be: You ask me questions, and I answer them. So how about you do your job, and I do mine?”

Mary Karr, reigning queen of memoir, has just called me out on my bullshit.

Need inspiration? Check out Karr’s top recommendations for memoir writers:

Black Boy (now American Hunger)
“There were other bestselling memoirs before then but they were usually by people of note. He was the first person with a ‘normal’ experience, without a massive reputation, who I think really kick-started in the middle of the last century.”


The Woman Warrior
“For its use of fantasy and its use of language.”

Speak, Memory
“For its language. Because he has none of the normal human feelings that the rest of us have, and he’s able to write a book that shapes the world and is completely geared to the nature of his talent. It’s so singular.”





Read our full Mary Karr profile here.

Originally Published