Best Books 2011: Memoir

ljx111201webBBmemoir Best Books 2011: Memoir

Selected by Julie Kane, Sweet Briar Coll. Lib., VA, & Therese Purcell Nielsen, Huntington P.L., NY

Bartók, Mira. The Memory Palace. Free Pr: S. & S. ISBN 9781439183311. $24.95.
Chilling in its horrible intimacies, this is an amazing rendering of an artist’s life surrounded by, and surviving, mental illness. Post-It notes mark portions I want to reread because they are so striking. (LJ BookSmack! 10/21/10)

Darst, Jeanne. Fiction Ruined My Family. Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). ISBN 9781594488146. $25.95.
Perfectly balanced in tone, this is one of the few truly funny memoirs that can also talk about the love, frustration, and deep despair that only relatives can bring out. With highly quotable moments; a keeper. (LJ BookSmack! 10/6/11)

Dubus, Andre III. Townie: A Memoir. Norton. ISBN 9780393064667. $25.95.
Dubus III’s journey through violence and his constant reflections upon its underlying causes are powerful. At once a sorrowful tale of loss and of the extraordinary path to a peaceful life. (LJ BookSmack! 12/2/10)

Fragoso, Margaux. Tiger, Tiger. Farrar. ISBN 9780374277628. $26.
Fragoso manages to elicit dignity and humanity from the most depraved souls to tell an unforgettable survivor’s story. Her insights into both the machinations of a pedophile and her struggle as a victim are brave, dark, and horrifying. (LJ BookSmack! 1/6/11)

Groom, Kelle. I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl: A Memoir. Free Pr: S. & S. ISBN 9781451616682. $23.
The alchemy of the poet’s craft allows Groom to transform the worst horrors‚ the death of a child and addiction‚ into a gorgeous tale of grace. With not one word of self-pity, this is an unflinching look at a life saved by forgiveness. (LJ BookSmack! 4/21/11)

Karp, Brianna. The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness: A Memoir. Harlequin. ISBN 9780373892358. pap. $16.95.
Karp does an excellent job of putting a human face on homelessness. Candidly humorous, her memoir is sharp and insightful, reminding readers just how impermanent an address can be and offering tips on what to do if it is lost. (LJ BookSmack! 5/5/11)

Klam, Julie. Love at First Bark: How Saving a Dog Can Sometimes Help You Save Yourself. Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). ISBN 9781594488283. $21.95.
A natural storyteller, Klam reflects on the value of the dog rescues that she’s accomplished and concludes she has benefitted as much as the canines she so vividly describes. The dogs’ personalities shine through as clearly as Klam’s. (LJ BookSmack! 9/1/11)

Shalev, Meir. My Russian Grandmother and Her American Vacuum Cleaner: A Family Memoir. Schocken. ISBN 9780805242874. $24.95.
A shiny American-made vacuum cleaner weaves its way, Zelig-like, through Shalev’s affectionate portrait of growing up on the moshav in 1920s Palestine. The muddy hardships of settlement life are evident, but family stories hold center stage. (LJ BookSmack! 5/19/11)

Ureneck, Lou. Cabin: Two Brothers, a Dream, and Five Acres in Maine.Viking. ISBN 9780670022946. $25.95.
Ureneck addresses the alienations and anxieties of modern midlife in this thoughtfully written chronicle of man vs. lumber. Although comparisons to Thoreau are inevitable, Ureneck nurtures personal relationships while musing on the value of nature in fractured lives. (LJ BookSmack! 8/4/11)

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