Friday, March 20, 2009

Laura Lippman's top 10 memorable memoirs

Since the publication of her first novel, Baltimore Blues, in 1997, Laura Lippman has won virtually every major award given to U.S. crime writings, including the Edgar Award, Anthony Award, Agatha Award, Nero Wolfe Award, Shamus Award, and the Quill Award. What the Dead Know, published in 2007, was a New York Times bestseller and was chosen as one of the best books of the year by critics at the New York Times, Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, People magazine, Village Voice, and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Her latest novel is Life Sentences.

For the Guardian, she named her top ten memoirs. Her prefatory remarks and one title from her list:
I love memoirs, although I have promised my family members that I will never try my hand at one. ("Can I get that in writing?" my sister asked.) However, I'm generally not drawn to the addiction/dysfunction stories that have been popular of late; I wanted no part of A Million Little Pieces even when it was masquerading as nonfiction. As a former reporter, I have a pesky allegiance to fact, although I recognize that the fragile nature of memory makes it difficult for most writers to produce uncontestable versions of their lives. I am drawn to stories about the quotidian – marriage, friendship, childhood, work, life, death.
* * *
Great With Child by Beth Ann Fennelly

When Fennelly, an award-winning poet, was pregnant with her first child and about to move to a new, remote town, she made an interesting promise to a friend. She would write her letters, actual letters, about her experiences as a mother and a wife, to the novelist Tom Franklin. Given that I have profound doubts about writers marrying, I particularly enjoyed this passage about the day Fennelly and Franklin decided to combine their book collections: "About two years into our relationship, Tommy and I made one of the biggest commitment two writers can make... We were sitting on the floor in front of the couch, figuring out how to make the rent. It had been another night of lentils and rice. All around us were bookcases – our separate bookcases. We hadn't merged our books, on the silent assumption that when we'd split up we'd both want our books back. But gradually we were realising that there would be no splitting up."
Read about all ten titles on Lippman's list.

The Page 69 Test: Great With Child.

--Marshal Zeringue