In Modern American Memoirs, two very discerning writers and readers have selected samples from 35 of the finest memoirs written in this century, including contributions by such diverse writers as Margaret Mead, Malcolm X, Maxine Hong Kingston, Loren Eisely, and Zora Neale Hurston. Chosen for their value as excellent examples of the art of biography as well as for their superb writing, the excerpts present a broad range of American life, and offer vivid insight into the real-life events that shaped their authors. Here, readers can learn about the time when Harry Crews, playing as a boy, fell into a vat of boiling water with a dead hog; Chris Offutt joined the circus and watched a tattooed woman swallow a fluorescent light; and Frank Conroy practiced yo-yo tricks.
Annie Dillard and publisher Cort Conley have collected excerpts from the memoirs of 35 20th-century American authors. The selections represent the best in autobiographical writing published between 1917 and 1992. Included are nine women and 26 men, both black and white, some better known than others, all distinguished writers and wonderful storytellers. Chris Offutt's "The Same River Twice" tells about the author's stint working in the circus; Anne Moody's "Coming of Age in Mississippi" describes her participation in the 1963 Woolworth sit-in. The editors precede each entry with a biographical and contextual note. There's an opening essay on the art of the memoirist and an afterword listing additional classics in the genre. This rich collection serves as an introduction to the nation's best modern writers and a primer on the American experience. Highly recommended for all libraries.-Carol A. McAllister, Coll. of William and Mary Lib., Williamsburg, Va.