Julene's Reviews > The Art of Time in Memoir: Then, Again

The Art of Time in Memoir by Sven Birkerts
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's review
Aug 09, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: memoir
Read in August, 2008

I love reading anything by Sven! This is the second book I've read in this series so far and it is a good insite into the different types of memoir from someone who went through the long process of writing his own. Given his incredible writing skill, he did justice to explaining the dynamics of three types of memoir, using examples in depth.

He starts off with the lyrical seekers using Virginia Wolf, Vladimir Nabokov and Annie Dillard. Then he goes to coming-of-age memoirs, first drawing the distinction between what is autobiography and memoir. He uses Frank Conroy's Stop-Time, Jo Anne Beard's The Boys of My Youth, and Maureen Howard's Facts of Life to demonstrate the "natural dynamic of escalation, eruption, and consequence, and-one hopes-recovery. He then goes to father's and sons then to mothers and daughters using three examples in each. The final section is on Trauma and memory and he uses four more books to review this section, ending with Kathryn Harrison's The Kiss. I've already added this one to my list from when he first mentioned her in the beginning. I don't know if I can read all the memoirs he used as examples but what an excellent foundation he lays.

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