Unlike other memoirs, Mary-Louise Parker’s non-fictional novel Dear Mr. You recounts her life via a series of letters both real and imagined to the men in her life. The actress’s letters all revolve around the men who have influenced her life for good or bad, and readers are given a glimpse of her life’s journey thanks to her poignant words.
Some of her memoirs will make you cry, especially with the letter to the uncle of the infant girl she adopted or her heartbreaking ode to her grandfather. However, not all of her stories are filled with joy. Parker delves into the dark side of life when she recounts a tale about an unnamed abusive ex, who she equated to Cerebus, the three-headed dog who guards the gates of the underworld in ancient Greek mythology. Parker’s tales of this toxic person is dark, but there’s also some humor in it too. Even though his behavior will send chills up your spine, you won’t be able to keep from snickering as the actress expertly skewers him with her words and exposes his faults for the entire world to see.
As the novel progresses, readers will get a chance to see the actress reflect on her life and her choices. Parker is brutally honest and makes no attempt to hide her own flaws.
Dear Mr. You is an emotional journey through Parker’s life that will leave you pondering about the people who have impacted your own existence — for better or worst.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Thursday, December 17th, 2015||No Comments »|
Too often, we look back at the past and beat ourselves up over events that can no longer be changed, but in Sarah Manguso’s memoir Ongoingness: The End of a Diary, she learns how to stay in the present instead of fretting about situations that have already occurred.
Ongoingness revolves around Manguso going back and re-reading a diary that she had kept for 25 years after she had recently become pregnant and given birth to a child. Before becoming a mother, she was obsessive about keeping a journal to make sure she didn’t forget the events that had happened to her over the years. However, after the birth of her child, Manguso realizes that our memories and their impact appear to us differently after we’ve hit a different period in our lives. Memories that once seemed so traumatic now appear insignificant in hindsight, and the author learns the value of living in the present and keeping yourself focused on the here and now.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Monday, April 27th, 2015||No Comments »|
Unlike other works that explore the dysfunctional family bond, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith’s Ordinary Light: A Memoir is a beautiful ode to the strong tie that exists between a mother and a daughter. Her poetic and poignant memoir paints a complex picture not only of family bonds but also the devastating effects of cancer.
Smith, who had been raised by her stay-at-home mother and engineer father, has never known true loss until her mother was diagnosed with cancer before she went off to college. In an attempt to honor her mother’s life and explore her own memories, she paints a fascinating picture of her parents’ memories of the Civil Rights movement and juxtaposes the hardships they faced with her own cosseted childhood in California and the independence she faced when she attended Harvard.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Tuesday, April 21st, 2015||No Comments »|
While at first glance Meg Flather’s novel Home Shopping Diva: Lessons, Lyrics and Lipstick looks like just another piece of vapid chick lit, there’s actually a great message about learning how to deal with the ups and downs of life within its pages.
Flather’s heartwarming memoir recounts her earliest years living in the Philippines, thanks to her Peace Corps parents, and then her times spent growing up in both Massachusetts and the Big Apple. Within the non-fiction novel is a hilarious coming-of-age story as Flather weaves an intricate tale about the life lessons she learned while being an actress, a singer, working in the cosmetics industry, and finally, making her debut on home shopping television.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Tuesday, November 18th, 2014||No Comments »|
In October 2012, award-winning Irish novelist Edna O’Brien sat down with Faber and Faber to discuss the publication of her memoirs, Country Girl. The interview begins with O’Brien saying that at first she was hesitant to publish an account of her life, but “her livelihood” changed her mind. She had written novel after novel and felt as if there was no spark of creativity left in her. After lamenting to her agent, he in turn urged her to start writing her memoirs.
It took O’Brien three years to write, and she admits that there were times when she had turned her agent down. However, once she reached the last chapter, she was happier because she could put into words how happy she was able to reconcile her experiences in her home country of Ireland and her experiences living in England as well. It was a union of the two warring halves of her soul and O’Brien finally felt at peace once she wrote it.
This interview is a fascinating reveal of how difficult writing one’s memoirs can be. It’s also a great way to learn more about the background of this amazing and talented Irish novelist.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Thursday, May 8th, 2014||No Comments »|