Memoir In The News: February 20, 2014

Credit: Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum.

Credit: Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum.

SOMETIMES THE WORLD of writing is just plain wonderful. Or so it has seemed in the last week. See if you do not agree after meeting a brand new Periodic Table. You remember the Periodic Table of the elements, of course. The one that drove you oh-so-slightly batty in high school? Well, this one is of the elements of writing, and it’s wildly interactive and oh, so much fun. Couple that with a Form Rejection Decoder Thingy I found online and things are truly looking up for those of us who chase ideas all day from a chair. But that’s not all.

First, that Periodic Table of Storytelling. This came to me by way of the ever-fabulous Studio 360, whose updating all of us weekly on art, culture and creativity should earn them every prize there is. How and why this Periodic Table will delight you is up to you. For me, it was a laugh-out-loud and dive-right-in experience.

And then, thanks to Brevity, that marvelous magazine, comes the Form Rejection Decoder Thingy that allows you to do just that: Figure out and actually enjoy every rejection letter you’ve ever received. Oh, you might as well. Much like birthdays, no one is going to celebrate them for you.

Added to those two visual and creative wonders is another fine post from Joan Marans Dim, whose piece, My Husband’s Things was featured in this space last week. I went looking for more of her work and found this, written prior to the one you just read. I am forever telling my students that one event can be looked at many ways and written about from all of those perspectives. They rarely believe me. Here’s the proof. Watch what she does here and learn.

And then there is this alto, whose voice is mostly heard in a crowd. Until now. What a remarkable place to write from, I thought. See if you agree, as I now do, that “the alto light is texture, changing light, tension, weather.” My great hope is that this person sings as well as she writes. I suspect she does, since no one else but a pro could bring such understanding to music.

Finally. A bibliomemoir worth reading. I’m not big on these, having slogged through too many whose perspective is that they’ve read a lot of books. A lot! These are usually presented in exclamation points and with little other emphasis on why one reads. A favorite topic for so many, and usually poorly done, this time it sounds perfect.

Also in the good news category this week is the announcement that Susanne Antonetta, American poet and award-winning author has a new book out. Antonetta is the pen name for Suzanne Paola, whose Body Toxic, An Environmental Memoir, well-deserved recognition for its coverage of the poisoned landscape of a New Jersey county in which she was raised.

Last, and saving the best for this place of honor, is an example of why I am so devoted to memoir. Were it not for this genre we would not know of the lives of the disenfranchised, of course. It’s an old argument, I know, but one I continue to believe in, never more so than when reading about books like the just-published American Cocktail, A “Colored Girl” in the World. But don’t take my word for it. This New York Times piece on Anita Reynolds, and her rollicking memoir, will convince you to read it, I bet. It did me. Kudos to Harvard University Press for publishing it.

And that’s it for now, unless you’ve got something to add.

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