The Edmond Sun

Arts & Entertainment

January 10, 2013

Slate: How to write a memoir

NEW YORK — There has lately been a rising backlash against the ubiquity of personal writing. Hamilton Nolan's anti-confessional diatribe in Gawker claims that journalism students are now taught only to write about themselves, which I can say as a full-time faculty member at a journalism school is patently absurd, but he raised some interesting points about the dubious rise of confessional writing over the last two decades and the market pressure, especially on younger writers, to make a splash, or at least publish something somewhere, by turning to their own, possibly limited, life experience. And then, of course, there were recent critiques of Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of "Prozac Nation," babbling incoherently about her pure heart in New York Magazine.

All of which leads me to believe it may be time to think methodically about what separates good confessional writing from bad confessional writing. It's dangerously cartoonish to say all personal writing is bad, and to automatically attack every writer who dares to delve into his own experience, but there are a million different ways to write personally and some of them are undoubtedly better than others. Here, then, are some basic principles I have come to over the years as both a professor and a writer:

1. The writer should turn her fierce critical eye on herself. (One of the great masters of this is Mary McCarthy, who was terrifying and brilliant in her critiques, even of her own pretentions and snobbisms.) It is always satisfying to read a writer who sharply and deftly attacks the hypocrisies and delusions of the world around him, but we trust that writer more completely when he also attacks himself, when he does not hold himself to a different standard, or protect himself from scrutiny. Take David Foster Wallace's famously dazzling essay, "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again." He obsessively, comically, gorgeously dissects everything around him on the cruise ship, but does not exempt himself from his high level satire:

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Arts & Entertainment
  • OBU dance team celebrates National Dance Day

    In 2010, “So You Think You Can Dance” co-creator and Dizzy Feet Foundation co-president Nigel Lythgoe created National Dance Day in an effort to help people embrace dance and combat obesity on the last Saturday in July.
    This year, on July 26, Oklahoma Baptist University’s dance team will host a fundraiser that allows participants to dance all day for $30. The fundraiser will be in the Noble Complex on OBU’s campus.
    Cami Gower, an OBU junior and co-captain/co-founder of the dance team, said the team’s officers have been planning for their upcoming season since April. Gower is a graduate of Deer Creek High School.
    “Since then we have been coming up with better ways to reach the community with dance,” she said. “This day of dance was a great way to do it and help the team raise funds.”

    July 24, 2014

  • Never Girls Good Reads

    NOTE: Email dpeery@edmondsun.com to have your name entered into a drawing for the following titles: “The Never Girls: A Pinch of Magic” and/or “The Secrets of Tree Taylor.” Deadline is 10 a.m. July 28. Winner will be notified by return email. Winner is responsible for picking up the book at The Edmond Sun at 123 S. Broadway. All entrants must be 18 or older to win.

    July 22, 2014 3 Photos

  • garner4.jpg Family, friends remember Garner’s Norman roots

    Flowers started arriving at the James Garner statue at Main Street and Jones Avenue Sunday morning after residents learned of the famed actor and Norman native’s death Saturday night in California.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Banjo 1 American Banjo Museum offers look at past

    What do you call perfect pitch?  If you can throw a banjo through the window and onto the garbage truck!  My brother-in-law, a musician, told me this joke.  Boy, the banjo is the Rodney Dangerfield of instruments — it gets no respect.  Well, get ready to appreciate the banjo for its history and heritage — at the American Banjo Museum in OKC’s Bricktown. This cool museum takes you through 370 years of banjo history in eight minutes, then settles down to give you details which will keep you interested for many more.

    July 19, 2014 6 Photos

  • Enjoy affordable romance in Dahlonega, Ga.

    Nestled in the mountains of northern Georgia against the Chattahoochee National Forest lies a tiny town that offers an authentic peek at a time long past. The charm of yesteryear combined with the calm of nature, friendly locals and the fun of back country roads dotted with vineyards and tasting rooms results in the perfect getaway for couples in search of a romantic escape or honeymoon destination. Those headed to Dahlonega for an intimate weekend will want to consider the following itinerary items.

    July 19, 2014

  • Kyle_Dillingham_cutout useBH.jpg Dillingham in benefit concert Monday at Symphony Center

    Musician Kyle Dillingham will perform a concert at 7:30 p.m. Monday to raise funds for a local man in need of a liver transplant.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Book to be launched at Uptown Grocery Co.

    A book focusing on support for children with autism will be launched at Uptown Grocery Co. from 2-5 p.m. July 19. “New Frontiers in Sensory Integration” is the most recent work of internationally acclaimed educator Stephanie Mines. Although based in Colorado, the neuropsychologist has gained experience in various parts of the world. Edmond was chosen as the launching place in honor of the local physical therapists who influenced Dr. Mines during her clinical trials.

    July 17, 2014

  • City Council approves $114,500 for statues

    City Council members have approved a $114,500 supplemental appropriation for public art.
    During the previous fiscal year, private contributions covered costs of a couple of larger art pieces that exceeded the city’s matching contribution limit of $35,000, causing the city to run short of budget authority as year-end activity approached, according to background provided by the council.

    July 17, 2014

  • line of girls 2877.jpg Summer camp enriches children

    Edmond's Historical Society 1889 summer camps were held in the historic one-room Territorial Schoolhouse on Second Street in Edmond. The children learned what their counterparts used 125 years ago to clean, cook and play with and experienced what a school day in the life of a child in 1889 was like.

    July 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • seamstresses.jpg Sewing camps helps girls hone in skills

    Anna Paladini (foreground) and her twin sister Alex Paladini work on their patchwork purses during the Sewing Camp held at the Parks and Recreation department in Mitch Park. The girls planned their summer vacation to see their grandparents, Kay and Mark Mades, around the camp Jeanine Smith teaches each summer.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo