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2018 MAY Non Fiction Pop-Up > Non Fiction ToB General

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message 1: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 27, 2018 01:24PM) (new)

This thread is for general discussion of the May NF pop up tournament.
If necessary, I'll add more threads when we find out how the event will be structured.

NOTE: I'm setting up the folder and moderating the NF tournament to give Amy a well-deserved break. No worries, she's not leaving us!

UPDATE — Schedule for the NF Pop-up:
Tuesday, May 1: Introduction
Friday, May 4: Hunger, first half
Tuesday, May 8: Hunger, second half
Friday, May 11: Educated, first half
Tuesday, May 15: Educated, second half
Friday, May 18: Priestdaddy, first half
Tuesday, May 22: Priestdaddy, second half
Friday, May 25: Wrap-up


message 2: by Alison (new)

Alison Hardtmann (ridgewaygirl) | 456 comments Tina wrote: "NOTE: I'm setting up the folders and moderating the NF tournament to give Amy a well-deserved break. ..."

Thanks for taking this on, Tina! It's much appreciated.


message 3: by Peebee (new)

Peebee | 68 comments Well, this is going to be the opposite of the ToB....I gave all three books 5 stars.

Thanks, Tina — this should be so much fun!


message 4: by Janet (new)

Janet (justjanet) | 641 comments Thanks for doing this Tina!


message 5: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 31, 2018 04:20PM) (new)

You are welcome, one and all! I'm happy for the opportunity to give a little something back to my favorite GR group.


message 6: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 113 comments Tina thanks for doing this. I will be reading this thread w interest. I've gotten almost completely turned off of contemporary memoir because there is such an incentive to tell tall tales or even lie. Like that novocaine guy. Ever since that fiasco I have had less success suspending disbelief w. memoir than with fiction. I'll be excited though to hear from people whose reading instincts I know and trust, about what I might be missing.


message 7: by Ehrrin (new)

Ehrrin | 114 comments Yay! I'm really excited about the NF mini-tourney!

I'm about halfway through The Fact of a Body (one of my three votes), and it's really good so far. I'm eager to check out the rest of the 'longlist.'

Thanks, Tina!


message 8: by Janet (last edited Apr 03, 2018 05:51AM) (new)

Janet (justjanet) | 641 comments Lark wrote: "Tina thanks for doing this. I will be reading this thread w interest. I've gotten almost completely turned off of contemporary memoir because there is such an incentive to tell tall tales or even l..."

The difficulty with memoir I think is that most lives are not salacious or shocking enough to sell books so a bit of embellishment (and I'm being generous here) seems to be commonplace.


message 9: by Peebee (new)

Peebee | 68 comments Lark wrote: "Ever since that fiasco I have had less success suspending disbelief w. memoir than with fiction."

Yeah, you probably don't want to start with Educated then, LOL. Suspending belief on that story takes some work (as I discussed in the book thread).


message 10: by lark (last edited Apr 03, 2018 08:48AM) (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 113 comments Peebee wrote: "Yeah, you probably don't want to start with Educated then, LOL. Suspending belief on that story takes some work (as I discussed in the book thread). ..."

I think I prefer memoirs that focus less on who the author is, and more on the places and times of their lives. Memoir as witness to history, vs. the story of one usually-miserable life. I think this kind of book is what used to be called "autobiography" and John Lewis's March books are a recent example. This witness-to-history kind of book seems a little out of fashion maybe though.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Lark wrote: "I think I prefer memoirs that focus less on who the author is, and more on the places and times of their lives..."
"...This witness-to-history kind of book seems a little out of fashion maybe though."


I also prefer outward-looking autobiography to me, me, me memoir. Alas, we have three of the latter in the May tournament. I am going to try to be generous to each of them despite my bias.


message 12: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 113 comments Tina wrote: "I also prefer outward-looking autobiography to me, me, me memoir. Alas, we have three of the latter in the May tournament. I am going to try to be generous to each of them despite my bias."

The navel-gazer genre seems to never go out of fashion and that is in itself worth studying. Is confessional memoir going to be like Romance, an evergreen genre with devoted readers who can't get enough?

I went to a writers conference in the 90's that had an agent panel looking for nf pitches for books, and every single one of them said "don't pitch me your sob story, that's a dying market." Boy were they wrong.


message 13: by Ruthiella (new)

Ruthiella | 354 comments Ehrrin wrote: "Yay! I'm really excited about the NF mini-tourney!

I'm about halfway through The Fact of a Body (one of my three votes), and it's really good so far. I'm eager to check out the rest of the 'longli..."


I am reading The Fact of a Body too because I voted for it and was disappointed that it wasn't short listed. Then I realized there was nothing stopping me from reading it on my own. LOL


message 14: by Sherri (new)

Sherri (sherribark) | 358 comments Heartberries and The Line Becomes a River are both memoirs written by MFA writers. They're both so different than any memoir I've read. Maybe we need a new genre for creative memoirs.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 624 comments Sherri wrote: "Heartberries and The Line Becomes a River are both memoirs written by MFA writers. They're both so different than any memoir I've read. Maybe we need a new genre for creative memoirs."

I don't know about The Line Becomes a River but I would label Heartberries a trauma memoir, or traumemoir. I had seen such glowing reviews but this kind of thing is SO not my thing.


message 16: by Ellen (new)

Ellen H | 764 comments I strongly recommend poet Mary Karr's memoir The Liars' Club. It came out during that spate of abused-young-girls-raised-in-dysfunctional-circumstances-in-the-south books, both fictional and non, that followed in the wake of Bastard Out of Carolina, but was as different from them all as chalk from cheese. For one thing, it's spectacularly written and occasionally very funny, and for another, she does not set herself up as this extraordinary child forced to live in horrible circumstances -- she acknowledges that there was nothing particularly special about her personally beyond her circumstances. I can't really describe the tone of it, but it bowled me over at the time and I've had the same reaction the couple of times I've read it since.


message 17: by Peebee (new)

Peebee | 68 comments Ellen wrote: "I strongly recommend poet Mary Karr's memoir The Liars' Club. "

Some of the memoirs written by poets and literary writers can be extraordinary. I’m a big fan of Liar’s Club and Priestdaddy also stood out for me in that vein. It can transform a relatively ordinary life story into one that sings, and create beauty from intense pain and abuse.

I’m really interested in reading Karr’s book “The Art of Memoir,” about how to transform your life story, because she’s been very influential and teaches a seminar that several other successful memoir authors have taken. I’ve already read all three of the books for May, so if anyone is interested in reading that too, it might be interesting to see how it informs our discussion of the three selected memoirs.

The three may be personal memoirs, but they are excellent representatives of three fairly distinct types: emotional confession and insightful reflection (Hunger); triumph over abuse, poverty, illness/disease or other extreme conditions (Educated); and a humorous take on a wacky/atypical upbringing (Priestdaddy).

Throw in the dying ones (When Breath Becomes Air, The Bright Hour) and you pretty much have the genre covered.


message 18: by Janet (new)

Janet (justjanet) | 641 comments Heart Berries: A Memoir is a trauma memoir and not my thing either....I gave it a rather scathing review....https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
The Line Becomes A River was very much my thing....I would not even call it a memoir because it's more about illegal immigration than it is about Cantu....https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 624 comments Peebee wrote: "I’m really interested in reading Karr’s book “The Art of Memoir,” about how to transform your life story, because she’s been very influential and teaches a seminar that several other successful memoir authors have taken. I’ve already read all three of the books for May, so if anyone is interested in reading that too, it might be interesting to see how it informs our discussion of the three selected memoirs."

It's very good, because she herself has written so many but also teaches it, like you mention. I particularly appreciated her discussion of writing dialogue (because nobody is remembering or recording conversations, let's be honest) and the ideas of truth.


message 20: by Jan (new)

Jan (janrowell) | 1081 comments I'm wishing the chosen books had focused more on general nonfiction rather than personal memoir. PM is a category I'm drawn to (I had already read all three of these books) and my responses to the books are so heartfelt that I find it hard to read negative responses to them--or even objective analysis. :-)

I wanted to recheck the nonfiction long list to see what general nonfiction it included, but couldn't find it just now. Can anyone point me to the long list or remind me of some of the other titles? I remember voting, but can't recall the choices!

And Tina, thanks for moderating!


message 21: by Ruthiella (last edited Apr 04, 2018 01:12PM) (new)

Ruthiella | 354 comments Jan wrote: "I'm wishing the chosen books had focused more on general nonfiction rather than personal memoir. PM is a category I'm drawn to (I had already read all three of these books) and my responses to the ..."

I think the entire long list consisted of personal memoirs. I know that The Fact of a Body was on the list (memoir/true crime combo) as well as Heartberries and The Line Becomes a River (see comments above). There was also one about someone who suffered from schizophrenia but I am blanking on the title.


message 22: by Janet (new)

Janet (justjanet) | 641 comments Jan wrote: "I'm wishing the chosen books had focused more on general nonfiction rather than personal memoir. PM is a category I'm drawn to (I had already read all three of these books) and my responses to the ..."

It looks like they've taken it down....I couldn't find it either. One I'm enjoying right now is I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer. I don't remember whether it was on the list but it should have been.


message 23: by Ruthiella (last edited Apr 04, 2018 01:13PM) (new)

Ruthiella | 354 comments I found it: A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise by Sandra Allen was also on the long list and The Cooking Gene by Micheal W. Twitty. These were the other two I voted for.


message 24: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 04, 2018 03:38PM) (new)

Jan wrote: "I'm wishing the chosen books had focused more on general nonfiction rather than personal memoir. PM is a category I'm drawn to (I had already read all three of these books) and my responses to the ..."

You're welcome!

I would have preferred general NF too. I am interested in science and history, but not so much in memoirs. I find them difficult to rate and review. How do I assign stars to someone's memories? Who am I to judge how a person chooses to tell their story?

I can't find the NF longlist either, but I'll keep looking, and I'll post a link if I find it.


message 25: by Jan (new)

Jan (janrowell) | 1081 comments Thanks, you guys! Now I remember voting for The Cooking Gene. :-) I will definitely read this one, although it may go on `my Wait for the Paperback list.


message 26: by Kelly (new)

Kelly | 28 comments Tina - Agreed. I sometimes don't enjoy or respond to a person's memoir, but judging them seems really harsh, in a way that judging fiction does not for some reason. I also always wonder how true it is, or how the people who are around the story feel about one version of their lives being laid out on paper, and somehow I end up feeling voyeuristic even thought the person, obviously, chose to write and publish the memoir.


message 27: by Jan (new)

Jan (janrowell) | 1081 comments Tina wrote: "I can't find the NF longlist either, but I'll keep looking, and I'll post a link if I find it. ..."

Thanks, Tina!


message 28: by Jan (new)

Jan (janrowell) | 1081 comments Kelly wrote: "I sometimes don't enjoy or respond to a person's memoir, but judging them seems really harsh, in a way that judging fiction does not for some reason. I also always wonder how true it is, or how the people who are around the story feel about one version of their lives being laid out on paper..."

I'm with you, Kelly. I'm hoping these issues will make for some interesting conversations once the NF Tournament gets rolling.


message 29: by Amanda (new)

Amanda | 126 comments Kelly wrote: "Tina - Agreed. I sometimes don't enjoy or respond to a person's memoir, but judging them seems really harsh, in a way that judging fiction does not for some reason. I also always wonder how true it..."

I agree with you. With some memoirs, I feel icky after reading. My biggest issue with memoirs is when the author writes about people other then themselves. I am fine with a person telling their story because it is their story and they have the right to tell it. My issue comes in when the author decides to tell someone else's story. One of the worst offenders being Orange is the New Black. Since ultimately publishing is a money-making enterprise, I don't like that someone is profiting from another's story.


message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

UPDATE: Amy and I had a telephone conference with Andrew Womack on Monday, during which he clarified that the NF pop-up will not be a competitive event. It will operate more like a book club, probably with twice weekly posts (TBD). The commentators will surely compare the three memoirs, but there will not be a winner at the end of the event.


message 31: by Peebee (new)

Peebee | 68 comments So there’s another memoir that I meant to suggest, that was a real sleeper (can’t even remember how it got on my radar) called “The Skin Above My Knee” by Marcia Butler. It chronicles her life as a professional musician (oboe player) and was simply amazing. For a first-time author with a completely different kind of career, I found the glimpse into her world (professional and psychological) completely fascinating. If you’re like me, and have read the others, but like memoirs, that’s maybe one to look for right now, since I don’t feel like it got the acclaim that it should have.


message 32: by Gayla (new)

Gayla Bassham (sophronisba) | 156 comments Do we have any idea of the schedule yet? I ask because I have read none of them yet, but both Hunger and Priestdaddy are available and I'm not sure which to start.


message 33: by Kelly (new)

Kelly | 28 comments Hunger is shorter? Just in terms of reading time/capacity, it may be easier to squeeze in quickly before the discussion starts.


message 34: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 27, 2018 01:28PM) (new)

Andrew just shared the NF Pop-up schedule with Amy and me.

Tuesday, May 1: Introduction
Friday, May 4: Hunger, first half
Tuesday, May 8: Hunger, second half
Friday, May 11: Educated, first half
Tuesday, May 15: Educated, second half
Friday, May 18: Priestdaddy, first half
Tuesday, May 22: Priestdaddy, second half
Friday, May 25: Wrap-up


message 35: by Care (new)

Care (bkclubcare) | 102 comments Peebee wrote: "Well, this is going to be the opposite of the ToB....I gave all three books 5 stars.

ME, TOO!

Though I had a clear favorite; I enjoy memoirs SO VERY much.



message 36: by [deleted user] (last edited May 01, 2018 05:21PM) (new)

The NF Pop-up starts tomorrow. I'm not planning to set up new folders for each book, unless that's the will of the group. Please let me know if you want a new folder for each day's discussion.

Otherwise, I'll 'see' you all tomorrow morning in the Hunger thread. I'm in Seattle, so it's likely you east coast folks will get there before me. If so, please share the link to the ToB page.

UPDATE: Oops! I forgot it's just the introduction today. We'll be in the Hunger thread on Friday.


message 38: by [deleted user] (last edited May 01, 2018 05:23PM) (new)

That link didn't work for me. Here is another one: https://themorningnews.org/article/we...


message 39: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1687 comments I’m ready


message 40: by [deleted user] (new)

Amy wrote: "I’m ready"

Refresh...refresh...


message 41: by Jan (new)

Jan (janrowell) | 1081 comments I found it from the main TMN site


message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks, Bob. I added the link in the Hunger thread.


message 44: by [deleted user] (new)

Link to the NonFiction Wrap-up: https://themorningnews.org/article/th...


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