It’s Literally Wednesday: The Non-Crime, Non-Tree Post

The memoir is a form of autobiography that focuses on selected stories from an author’s life. After reading Joan Didion’s excellent The Year of Magical Thinking in 2005, I became kind of hooked. But in a weird way. Reading these feels incredibly voyeristic. I’m a relatively private person — I don’t even use my last name on these posts — while the best memoirs are brutally honest. I recently finished Gary Shteyngart’s Little Failure, which is primarily based on the time between his birth in Leningrad in 1972 and the start of high school in New York (where he moved at the age of seven), while continuing anticdotally to the present. Oddly, the best comparison I can think of is Roger Ebert’s Life Itself. (A documentary using the same title comes out this year.) Both deal in unabating detail with alcohol, writing, and a Freudianesque relationship with a parent.

Anyone have any other good memoir recommendations?

This Week

Sarah Churchwell, author of Careless People, Wednesday, February 19th at 7:15pm, Decatur Library, sponsored by Georgia Center for the Book, free.

Civil Wary 150 Program: An Evening with James McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom, Wednesday, February 19th at 8pm, Atlanta History Center, SOLD OUT.

Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of The Painted Girls, Thursday, February 20th at 5:30pm, H. Harper Station, 904 Memorial Drive, sponsored by A Cappella Books, free.

Aram Goudsouzian, author of Down to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March Against Fear, Jimmy Carter Library, sponsored by Georgia Center for the Book, free.

B.J. Novak, author of One More Thing, Friday, February 21st at 7pm, Atlanta History Center, $5 for members, $10 for nonmembers.

Pulitzer-prize winning poet Paul Muldoon, Saturday, February 22nd at 4pm, Glenn Auditorium on the Emory University campus, free but this event is ticketed; tickets can be obtained at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts box office, be reserved online (tickets.arts.emory.edu) and by phone (404-727-5050) with a $4 per order service fee, and a limited number of tickets are available at A Cappella Books, Charis Books & More, Eagle Eye Book Shop and Little Shop of Stories. Tickets (capped at two per person) must be picked up in person at these locations.

Local favorite Laurel Snyder, author of Seven Stories Up, Saturday, February 22nd at 7pm, Little Shop of Stories, free.

Lovestruck Tour with Megan Shepherd (author of The Dark Curiosity), Megan Miranda (Vengeance), Kasie West (Split Second), and Robin Constantine (The Promise of Amazing), Monday, Februrary 24th at 7pm, Little Shop of Stories, free.

Maurice Daniels, author of Saving the Soul of Georgia: Donald L. Hollowell and the Struggle for Civil Rights, Monday, February 24th at 7:15pm, Decatur Library, sponsored by Georgia Center for the Book, free.

13 thoughts on “It’s Literally Wednesday: The Non-Crime, Non-Tree Post”


  1. “The memoir is a form of autobiography that focuses on selected stories from an author’s life.”

    Thank you, Dave. I’ve long wondered about the difference between memoir and autobiography.

  2. Don’t really have any comment to make, just wanted to get out of the rain.
    When can we start talking about the book festival?

    1. The Decatur Book Festival has evolved to nearly a year-long process. Work is well underway. The DBF Programming Committee met yesterday. Only 191 days to go!

  3. Mary Cantwell’s three memoirs about life in NYC are very, very good, especially Manhattan, When I Was Young. One of the most devastating depictions of a failing marriage I’ve ever read.

  4. Question – we signed up for BJ Novak but the cost was $40 ($30 if member) – do you have another link for the lower amount listed above? I called and was told it was because it includes book and open bar and could not pay lesser amount. Thank you.

      1. No problem – thanks for the update – I just didn’t want to have two books if we didn’t have to!

  5. I’m not sure if you’d call it memoir or autobiography, but Personal History by Katherine Graham (1997) is fascinating. She gives a view of a way of life foreign to most of us (wealth) but blotted with family issues too familiar to many of us. She grows from poor little rich girl to media titan as owner of the Washington Post. There’s the union busting and there’s Watergate. By the end, I’m not sure I liked her but I liked her book very much.

    Here’s a link to a review by Nora Ephron. http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/02/09/reviews/970209.09ephront.html

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