What’s Your Favorite “Coming of Age” Story?

Cherry: A Memoir by Mary Karr

Most people who’ve raised children to adulthood would agree with Raymond Duncan who says,”the best substitute for experience is being sixteen.” But, did you know that some of the most popular books today are teenage “Coming of Age” memoirs? While almost every parent I know thinks their own teen is a drama queen/king, most would not consider junior’s life worth mining for art’s sake. Surely we all know by now that most adults are wrong.

As Oscar Wilde says, “The old believe everything; the middle-aged suspect everything; the young know everything.”

My own book, Cracking Up, was written with hopes of helping “crack up” my own teen girrrls—six nieces. I’d rather they laugh than go crazy being raised within the nutty walls of our Conservative Roman Catholic schools (the same ones that I’d attended). Though I loved writing every one of my books, my own coming-of-age memoir is not my most cherished one.

What’s your favorite coming of age story? I have so many, I don’t know where to begin. But, I’ll pick just one for now and hope you’ll share yours with the rest of us here. Mine is Cherry written by prizewinning poet and memoirist, Mary Karr. You may remember her bestselling and earliest work called The Liars’ Club.

While I’d never call Mary Karr “scrappy,” the briefest book reviews seem to use that adjective to describe her. See some reviews/summaries here on Powells.com.

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“Telling a teenager the facts of life is like giving a fish a bath.” ~ Arnold H. Glasow

Mary Karr told the prizewinning tale of her hardscrabble Texas childhood with enough literary verve to spark a renaissance in memoir. The Liars’ Club rode the top of The New York Times bestseller list for more than a year, and publications ranging from The New Yorker to People magazine picked it as one of the best books of the year. But it left people wondering: How’d that scrappy kid make it outa there? Cherry dares to tell that story. Karr picks up the trail and dashes off into her teen years with customary sass, only to run up against the paralyzing self-doubt of a girl in bloom.

In this long-awaited sequel, we see Karr ultimately trying to run from the thrills and terrors of her sexual awakening by butting up against authority in all its forms. She lands all too often in the principal’s office and — in one instance — a jail cell. Looking for a lover or heart’s companion who’ll make her feel whole, she hooks up with an outrageous band of surfers and heads, wanna-be yogis and bona fide geniuses.

Karr’s edgy, brilliant prose careens between hilarity and tragedy, and Cherry takes readers to a place never truly explored — deep inside a girl’s stormy, ardent adolescence. Parts will leave you gasping with laughter. But its soaring close proves that from even the smokiest beginnings a solid self can form, one capable of facing down all manner of monsters.

Review:

“Readers seduced by Karr’s canny memoir of a childhood spent under the spell of a volatile, defiantly loving family in The Liars’ Club can look forward to more exquisite writing in this sequel focusing on her adolescence in a dusty Texas town…. Moving effortlessly from breathtaking, to heart stabbing, to laugh out loud raucous, the precision and sheer beauty of Karr’s writing remains astounding.” ~ Publishers Weekly

Review:

“Karr proves herself as fluent in evoking the common ground of adolescence as she did in limning her anomalous girlhood. As she did in The Liars’ Club, Ms. Karr combines a poet’s lyricism and a Texan’s down-home vernacular with her natural storytelling gift. Some of her stories are nostalgic for a vanished time and place; some are scathing in their evocation of an insular world; some are just plain funny.” ~ Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Synopsis:

In the long-awaited sequel to The Liars’ Club, Karr picks up the trail of her hardscrabble Texas childhood and dashes off into her teen years with customary sass, only to run up against the paralyzing self-doubt of a girl in bloom. The book’s soaring close proves that from even the smokiest beginnings a solid self can form, one capable of facing down all manners of monsters.

Description:

From Mary Karr comes this gorgeously written, often hilarious story of her tumultuous teens and sexual coming-of-age. Picking up where the bestselling The Liars’ Club left off, Karr dashes down the trail of her teen years with customary sass, only to run up against the paralyzing self-doubt of a girl in bloom. Fleeing the thrills and terrors of adolescence, she clashes against authority in all its forms and hooks up with an unforgettable band of heads and bona-fide geniuses. Parts of Cherry will leave you gasping with laughter. Karr assembles a self from the smokiest beginnings, delivering a long- awaited sequel that is both “bawdy and wise.” ~ San Francisco Chronicle
Karr is also an award-winning poet who claims, “Working on poems is like cheating on your husband; it’s what I really want to do but they won’t pay me for it.”
Want to write a different kind of memoir? Call today to set up a 30″ complimentary sample session to see what we might create together: 206.617-8832 or design your own package.

Will A Memoir about Social & Gender Justice Sell? Should Profit Concerns Stop You?

How could Two and A Half Men be popular (#1 sitcom) and The Roseanne TV show remain off the air? Roseanne Cherie Barr (born November 3, 1952) answers this question in New York Magazine (below):

“Nothing real or truthful makes its way to TV unless you are smart and know how to sneak it in, and I would tell you how I did it, but then I would have to kill you. Based on Two and a Half Men’s success, it seems viewers now prefer their comedy dumb and sexist. Charlie Sheen was the world’s most famous john, and a sitcom was written around him. That just says it all. Doing tons of drugs, smacking prostitutes around, holding a knife up to the head of your wife—sure, that sounds like a dream come true for so many guys out there, but that doesn’t make it right! People do what they can get away with (or figure they can), and Sheen is, in fact, a product of what we call politely the “culture.” Where I can relate to the Charlie stuff is his undisguised contempt for certain people in his work environment and his unwillingness to play a role that’s expected of him on his own time.

“But, again, I’m not bitter. I’m really not. The fact that my fans have thanked and encouraged me for doing what I used to get in trouble for doing (shooting my big mouth off) has been very healing. And somewhere along the way, I realized that TV and our culture had changed because of a woman named Roseanne Conner, whom I am honored to have written jokes for….”

Read more here under the New Yorker Essay called: AND I SHOULD KNOW

Award-Winning author, Feminist/Working Class Comic and TV icon, Rosanne Barr

Want to write a different kind of memoir? Why don’t you take up my offer to have a complimentary sample session to see what we might create together. Call today to set up a 30-minute appointment: 206.617-8832 or pick a package.

Barr now lives in Hawaii, where she farms macadamia nuts. She has a new book, Roseannearchy (Gallery; $26), and will return to TV in Roseanne’s Nuts, a Lifetime reality show.
To wit (according to Wikipedia): Besides being a best-selling author, actress, comedian, TV producer and Director, Roseanne Barr is a Macadamia Nut mogul in Hawaii. Barr began her career in stand-up comedy at clubs in Colorado in the 1980s. Her big break came in 1987 when she was cast in her own sitcom, Roseanne. The show was a hit and lasted nine seasons, from 1988 to 1997. Barr won both an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her work on the show. In addition, she has won six People’s Choice Awards, three American Comedy Awards, a Kids Choice Award, a GLAAD Media Award, and the TV Land Innovator Award. Barr starred in the film She-Devil (1989) and had a voice role in Look Who’s Talking Too (1991). In 2004, she voiced one of the main characters in the animated film ”Home on the Range. After her sitcom ended, Barr launched her own talk show, The Roseanne Show, which aired from 1998 to 2000. She later returned to stand-up in the mid-2000s.

How Do Writers Get Unstuck?

“There is probably no hell for authors in the next world—they suffer so much from critics in this one.” ~ Christian Nestell Bovee

If you are stuck, are you saying things like this about your manuscript?

• This has become so disorganized that the outline makes no sense.
• I can’t seem to finish.
• There’s something critical missing.
• I’ve been stuck for so long that I can’t seem to get going again.
• Every time I think about working on it, I put it off.
• I think my manuscript has great stuff in it, but I don’t know who would want to publish or buy it.
• I make strides on it once in a while, but I have trouble putting consistent time into it.

These problems are neither unique nor insurmountable. The fact is: books continue to be published every day—190,000 a year. So take heart, it’s not just you! Many people don’t know how to begin writing a book, let alone completing, publishing and marketing it.

This 190,000 figure should be taken as a rough guide because this doesn’t take into account the huge amount of books of local history, course textbooks, or other books that don’t require ISBN numbers.

Thanks to the invention of digital printing, we’re free to get just one or one-thousand copies of our own books printed, so whereas once the publishing industry was akin to an exclusive club where publishers thought they were gods, new authors, like us, can authorize ourselves.

WHAT IF THERE WERE NO EXCUSES?

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” ~ Dale Carnegie

First, you need to think about what has been stopping you from making forward progress. If you have stopped making progress on your book project, do any of these excuses sound familiar?

• I’ve lost track of the big picture. Every time I sit down to write, I get bogged down in the details and I’m not sure if what I’m writing is relevant.
• My life is full of distractions. I need someone to keep me focused and push me forward.
• I know what I know, and others have assured me that my knowledge is valuable, but I’m not sure how to pull it all together into a book.
• I need to focus on earning and don’t have time to write.
• My mate thinks writing isn’t the best use of my time when our mortgage needs to be paid, and the kids need dental work, etc.

These problems need not stop you. Published authors aren’t really any different from anyone else; they’re just audacious. People who write (or make any kind of art, for that matter) often have family and financial obligations. Think about Nabokov, the author of Lolita, et al., he had seven children and an ill wife. He did most of his writing in the bathtub (the only room in the house where he could be alone in relative quiet).

J. K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, as everyone knows, lived in her car and flopped on couches of various friends due to financial woes. Margaret Atwood and Toni Morrison both had financial distress and children to tend to and yet, both made time to write. Morrison swears her first two books were written on her kitchen table between meals or before going off to work.

I try to remember this warning given to me by author Barbara Sher, “A dream without action will make you crazy and action without a dream is a nightmare.” Another trick that helps me get unstuck is to take the focus off myself and commit to my would-be readers. After I make the mental commitment to completing my manuscript, I feel the momentum that helps me turn my dreams (of becoming an author) into a reality.

Subscribe to my blog (up in the far right corner on this page); it’s full of tips to jumpstart your creativity. Learn new tricks of prolific writers and memoirists every week with my help. Such guidance will keep your book project at the top of your mind and inspire you to get your book done sooner rather than later. Stay inspired by reading auto/biographies and memoirs of other writers.

Still feeling overwhelmed? Why don’t you take up my offer to have a complimentary sample session to see what we might create together. Call today to set up a 30-minute appointment: 206.617-8832 or pick a package.

Embrace Your Inner Magician