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From a critically acclaimed cultural and literary critic, a definitive history and analysis of the memoir. From Saint Augustine?s Confessions to Augusten Burroughs?s Running with Scissors, from Julius Caesar to Ulysses Grant, from Mark Twain to David Sedaris, the art of memoir has had a fascinating life, and deserves its own biography. Cultural and literary critic Ben Yagoda traces the memoir from its birth in early Christian writings and Roman generals? journals all the way up to the banner year of 2007, which saw memoirs from and about dogs, rock stars, bad dads, good dads, alternadads, waitresses, George Foreman, Iranian women, and a slew of other illustrious persons (and animals). In a time when memoir seems ubiquitous and is still highly controversial, Yagoda tackles the autobiography and memoir in all its forms and iterations. He discusses the fraudulent memoir and provides many examples from the past?and addresses the ramifications and consequences of these books. Spanning decades and nations, styles and subjects, he analyzes the hallmark memoirs of the Western tradition?Rousseau, Ben Franklin, Henry Adams, Gertrude Stein, Edward Gibbon, among others. Yagoda also describes historical trends, such as Native American captive memoirs, slave narratives, courtier dramas (where one had to pay to NOT be included in a courtesan?s memoir). Throughout, the idea of memory and truth, how we remember and how well we remember lives, is intimately explored. Yagoda?s elegant examination of memoir is at once a history of literature and taste, and an absorbing glimpse into what humans find interesting?one another. .
In writing, style matters. Our favorite writers often entertain, move, and inspire us less by what they say than by how they say it. In The Sound on the Page, acclaimed author, teacher, and critic Ben Yagoda offers practical and incisive help for writers on developing and discovering their own style and voice. This wonderfully rich and readable book features interviews with more than 40 of our most important authors discussing their literary style, including: Dave Barry, Harold Bloom, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Bill Bryson, Michael Chabon, Andrei Codrescu, Junot DÍaz, Adam Gopnik, Jamaica Kincaid, Michael Kinsley, Elmore Leonard, Elizabeth McCracken, Susan Orlean, Cynthia Ozick, Anna Quindlen, Jonathan Raban, David Thomson, Tobias Wolff.
What do you get when you mix nine parts of speech, one great writer, and generous dashes of insight, humor, and irreverence? One phenomenally entertaining language book. In his waggish yet authoritative book, Ben Yagoda has managed to undo the dark work of legions of English teachers and libraries of dusty grammar texts. Not since School House Rock have adjectives, adverbs, articles, conjunctions, interjections, nouns, prepositions, pronouns, and verbs been explored with such infectious exuberance. Read If You Catch an Adjective, Kill It and: Learn how to write better with classic advice from writers such as Mark Twain ("If you catch an adjective, kill it"), Stephen King ("I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs"), and Gertrude Stein ("Nouns ... are completely not interesting"). Marvel at how a single word can shift from adverb ("I did okay"), to adjective ("It was an okay movie"), to interjection ("Okay!"), to noun ("I gave my okay"), to verb ("Who okayed this?"), depending on its use. Avoid the pretentious preposition, a favorite of real estate developers (e.g. , "The Shoppes at White Plains"). Laugh when Yagoda says he "shall call anyone a dork to the end of his days" who insists on maintaining the distinction between shall and will. Read, and discover a book whose pop culture references, humorous asides, and bracing doses of discernment and common sense convey Yagoda's unique sense of the "beauty, the joy, the artistry, and the fun of language."
This book is the only resource writers need for all of their questions on how to: brainstorm creative article ideas; find the right magazine for their work; and keep editors coming back for more!
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