Book Review

Provisional Pen Recommends I Was Their American Dream by Malaka Gharib

  2019's I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir is a unique reading experience, and an inspiration for anyone who'd like to write a memoir, whether graphic or text-based. Malaka Gharib shares how she navigates different cultures within her family and out in the world. Here's how she educates and entertains readers:   Mixed Media/Activities Since Gharib's book is a graphic memoir, it's already...

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Provisional Pen Recommends Melanie Rehak’s Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her

In an elementary school library in the early 1990s, before Google existed, rumors about Nancy Drew's mysterious author abounded: Carolyn Keene was from Toledo, OH. She and Hardy Boys' author Franklin W. Dixon were actually the same person, writing under different names. Our staff writer who heard and believed these rumors grew up to discover that, as is often the case,...

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Recommended Reading for Memoir Writers: Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

Whether you're familiar with Susanna Kaysen's memoir about her hospitalization for mental illness in the 1960s or it's new to you, I recommend reading Girl, Interrupted if you plan to write a memoir. Here's why:   Topography Motif Kaysen employs a pattern of chapters focused on topography, whereby she maps out the features of different places (both figurative and literal), starting with the “parallel...

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Provisional Pen Recommends Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

If you're looking for a book to help you get into the right mindset for writing, I recommend Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. Notice that Gilbert doesn't promise us “creative living without fear.” No, dealing with our fear is an important part of the process, according to Gilbert (22-24). In six thematic sections divided into short, quickly readable...

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Provisional Pen Recommends Stephen King’s On Writing

Like most dedicated readers, you’ve likely wondered what motivates your favorite authors. If Stephen King happens to be one of your faves, you’re in for a real treat. In On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (10th Anniversary Edition), King chronicles the experiences (both hilarious and heartbreaking) that shaped him as a writer. He also reveals the inspiration behind some of...

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Recommended Reading for Writers: Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird

There’s a reason so many composition instructors introduce their students to Anne Lamott’s wonderfully witty “Shitty First Drafts.” Enlightening yet approachable, her advice shows writers-in-progress that all is not, indeed, hopeless. Better yet, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, which includes her well-known essay, gives readers the next best thing to taking a writing workshop with the irrepressible...

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