I teach a Dual Enrollment class, and we’ll be starting off the year with a memoir/autobiography section in order to allow students to write their college essays. While this same thing happened last year, it wasn’t quite what I wanted going in, and so the results were mixed. This year I am upping the intensity a little, and making the students read a lot more in preparation. So I have been reading a handful of books about memoir as well as a number of memoirs.
This book functions as a how-to guide for writing memoir (kind of!) but more so serves as a how-to guide for reading memoir. For one, it’s full of great suggestions of what to read, and really gives some generalized thoughts on how to think of and read through those texts. And she gives a great rundown of close reading of passages. And in a further function, being a memoirist, Mary Karr goes through her own process as she wrote her own memoirs, and so this also becomes a kind of memoir of memoirs. It’s very good and I walked away with some interesting ideas on how to better structure the unit for seniors next year (as well some ideas for my non-dual classes) for how we would balance reading great writing and figure out how to produce more better writing. High school seniors often mean well but I can already tell you the first three or four drafts of 90% of the essays I’ll be getting the first few weeks of school next year. Also, I am bored at school because even though I have three more weeks with my juniors, the seniors are done for the year. So I have some time to plan.