Book Review

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed; A Review

A voice that stands out in the Memoir realm is Cheryl Strayed. Her novel, Wild is now a movie starring Reese Witherspoon. The journey Strayed takes the reader on is extraordinary and incredibly moving. Throughout the novel, you become acquainted with her story in such a way that you feel as if you’re almost reading letters directly from her. The friendship...

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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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Writing in the Science Fiction Genre; A Book Review

Provisional Pen Recommends:   Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction: How to Create Out-of-this-world Novels and Short Stories. By Orson Scott Card, Phillip Athans, Jay Lake, and the Editors of Writer’s Digest.   Whenever a writer embarks on a genre- specific project, it is helpful to have a set of guidelines to follow. Along those lines comes this instructional book, but it is so much more....

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Provisional Pen Recommends Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth

Ron Stallworth's illuminating memoir Black Klansman shows modern readers just how present racism still was in Colorado in the late 1970s. Throughout the story, Stallworth recounts his experience as a young Black police officer, encountering racist behavior from citizens and colleagues alike. Thankfully, he persisted and led a noteworthy infiltration of the Ku Klux Klan itself. As a result, Black Klansman...

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Provisional Pen Recommends Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl

Garlic and Sapphires Ruth Reichl

  Real-life espionage, restaurant reviews, and recipes? If you're looking for an appetizingly unexpected mixture of genres, be sure to check out Ruth Reichl's memoir Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise.   It all starts with a disturbing encounter on a flight to New York City, as Reichl prepares to transition her family's life from Los Angeles so she...

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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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