Magical Memoir Moments

The death and dying books shelf.

On Reviewing Books: We Are What We Read

Remember chewing your pencil when you had to write a book review for school? At some point in the process of writing a book review, I nearly always regret saying “yes” to the assignment. A good review requires at least two readings of the book, note-taking, special attention to themes and structure, and comparisons of…

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How to Get Ready to Die: Easter Lessons from My Mennonite Mother

“Just don’t say, ‘She fell into the arms of Jesus.’” We were talking about death and funerals, fun topics for a 65-year-old woman and her 87-year-old mother. When Mother described the clichés and embellished phrases of some obituaries, we both howled in recognition, eager to reduce the serious, universal, subject of death with just enough…

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Richard Gilbert’s Memoir Shepherd: A Masterpiece of Rumination

Did you know that there are 150 ruminant species living on earth? Sheep, goats, and cattle, however, play a special role. About 10,000 years ago they helped bring us agriculture and the familiar landscape of pastures and meadows. I learned that fact from one of my favorite guides to memoir, Richard Gilbert, whose posts and…

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A Mennonite Memoir Filled with Awe: Don Jacobs' What a Life!

I’m grateful today for publishers and publications that allow small groups of people to keep their collective identity alive. Good Books is one of those publishers. Mennonite World Review offers a place for readers to connect to the books. Hurrah for both! April 1 issue Voice of awe and gratitude by Shirley Hershey Showalter Is it…

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Here's a Quick Way to Discover Great Books: Six Lists That Get to the Heart of Memoir

I love lists. Don’t you? Lists save us time. They help us visualize our goals. They inspire us. They appeal to our sense of completion with a beginning, middle, and end. Book lists are the best of all. I first enjoyed lists I found on Amazon. Then Goodreads offered me the chance to see the…

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Starting Off 2013 with a Contemplative Bang

Let me introduce you to Theresa. She’s kind, spunky, creative, and playful. Can’t you just see all of these things in her face? She’s also a mom and a very savvy business woman who takes her faith seriously. We met two years ago at a conference and have kept in touch online. Theresa describes herself…

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Review of Jean Janzen's Mennonite Memoir: Entering the Wild

The word “wild” has loomed large over the field of memoir this year. You’ve probably heard of Cheryl Strayed’s wonderful book about her amazing journey on the Pacific Crest Trail. I reposted a wonderful review of the book by Strayed’s mentor Paulette Bates Alden here. Now I have another wild book to recommend. Here’s my…

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Sailing Acts: A Memoir and an Inner Transformation

We’ve just returned. In so many ways I am home again. Back from Brooklyn, back from the world’s best job of being a Granny Nanny, back from living out of suitcases for three weeks and a studio apartment for ten months before that. Back from writing ten chapters of memoir on a dining room table….

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Jean Raffa on Dream Interpretation and Memoir Writing

Author Jean Raffa has been sharing her knowledge of dreams in a series begun with this post and continuing with last week’s post about the Big dreams of childhood. Here are two more concluding questions from me and Jean’s answers. Q: If we don’t have dream interpretation training like you do, do we need an analyst…

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Understanding a Childhood Dream: With Help from Jean Raffa

When I saw the picture that author Jean Raffa sent me to represent the landscape of western North Carolina, her summer home, I smiled. The picture shows a root cellar, a place that must be important to Jean as she looked for landscape to represent who she is. Synchronistically, cellars are also important to me….

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