MENTOR: A MEMOIR by Tom Grimes

Writer, teacher, and philanthropist, Tom Grimes, wrote this memoir about his friendship with Frank Conroy and his struggles with writing and publishing. Grimes opens his narrative in 1980’s Key West, where he’s striving to write publishable work while earning money as a waiter. After applying to the Iowa Writing Workshop MFA program, he heard Frank Conroy speak at a seminar in Florida. Later, he approached him offstage with enthusiastic questions about writing and the workshop. Conroy, who had recently become Director at Iowa, dismissed him. He ambled right past Tom to talk to a friend, waving him off that his chances of acceptance were slim to zip (in so many words). His confidence punctured, Tom went home to tear up—really, he gutted—Conroy’s celebrated memoir, STOP-TIME. He tossed it in the garbage and wiped his hands of Frank Conroy.

August 1, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
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ZEN AND NOW by Mark Richardson

Equal parts road trip, biography, philosophy and travelogue, ZEN AND NOW: ON THE TRAIL OF ROBERT PIRSIG AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE is an entertaining, educational and illuminating look at an American literary phenomenon and its creator.

June 19, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
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ONE MORE THEORY ABOUT HAPPINESS by Paul Guest

This gripping memoir is an homage to resiliency, strength and courage. It is written by Paul Guest, now 27, who had a cataclysmic accident when he was 12-years-old. While riding his teacher’s old 10-speed bicycle, which had no brakes, he crashed and broke his neck. Since that day he has been confined to a wheelchair, a quadriplegic.

May 7, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
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HURRY DOWN SUNSHINE by Michael Greenberg

Michael Greenberg’s brilliant and mesmerizing memoir, HURRY DOWN SUNSHINRE, of his daughter’s madness is a poignant and terrifying book about the depths and peaks of mania and the desperate struggle that a loved one will go to in order to bring someone back from the world of psychosis.

When Greenberg’s daughter, Sally, first becomes psychotic, he thinks it is more her creativity than anything else. He is slow to recognize her manic state. But then, who would first assume that someone they love has gone to a place of madness. “But how does one tell the difference between Plato’s “divine madness” and gibberish? Between enthousiasmos (literally, to be inspired by a god) and lunacy? Between the prophet and the “medically mad.”

February 17, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
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MENNONITE IN A LITTLE BLACK DRESS by Rhoda Janzen

Janzen’s laugh-out-loud memoir gets its impetus from a botched major surgery, a debilitating car accident and a crushing divorce.

Incapacitation itself – never mind the catheter bag – was a shock to her self-image as the embodiment of robust Mennonite genes. But after a yearlong convalescence during which her handsome, brilliant, if not entirely reliable husband, Nick, was a peach, Janzen expects to be healthy for decades to come.

December 25, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: California, Family Matters, Humorous, Non-fiction, Reading Guide

TRUE COMPASS by Edward M. Kennedy

Early in 2009, I read the account of Edward M. Kennedy’s life entitled LAST LION: THE FALL AND RISE OF TED KENNEDY. A synthesis of reports by Boston Globe reporters, it succeeded in presenting a balanced and quite thorough review of Senator Kennedy’s life up to the point where he was diagnosed with brain cancer. With that instructively under my belt, I was eager to study the senator’s own account, TRUE COMPASS: A MEMOIR. How, I wondered, had he approached the delicate or controversial events of his life? Had he, for example, gone into as much detail about the Chappaquiddick tragedy as LAST LION had? How much had he wished to revisit concerning the assassinations of his famous political brothers? Had he gone into as many specifics about his major Senate battles as the reporters? What less well known facets of himself had he chosen to reveal? Were his reminisces more personal or more professional in nature?

November 15, 2009 · Judi Clark · 2 Comments
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