When writers experience personal loss, they write about it, sometimes as fiction, and sometimes as a memoir. Writing a memoir dealing with difficult or traumatic experiences takes a unique kind of effort and talent. In a special June 15th addition to the Kingston Spring Author Talks, three accomplished writers will talk about their experiences with writing this kind of memoir. One has written two memoirs, one talked with other authors about how they handled their own stories of loss and trauma, and one wrote a guide for anyone seeking to tell such a story.
Kingston resident Marianne Leone, familiar to both local and international audiences for her acclaimed memoir about her son, Jesse: A Mother's Story, has also written a second memoir, Ma Speaks Up: And a First Generation Daughter Talks Back, a witty, honest, loving book about her outspoken and frequently outrageous Italian immigrant mother. In both books, Leone deals with the story of her beloved son Jesse, whose extremely premature birth bonded Leone and her mother in ways she couldn’t have imagined. Marianne Leone is also an actress, screenwriter and essayist. Her essays have appeared in the Boston Globe, Coastal Living, Post Road and Solstice. She is well known for her recurring role on HBO’s Sopranos as well as her role with Robert DeNiro in the recent movie Joy.
Melanie Brooks, who teaches writing at Northeastern University, Merrimack College, and Nashua Community College, talked with many famous writers, including Leone, about how they approached the task of writing their difficult personal stories. The conversations are included in her new book, Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma, recently named a “Best Book for Writers” by Poets&Writers. The book includes profiles with some of our country's most prolific writers: Alysia Abbott, Richard Blanco, Kate Bornstein, Edwidge Danticat, Mark Doty, Andre Dubus III, Jessica Handler, Richard Hoffman, Marianne Leone, Michael Patrick McDonald, Kyoko Mori, Suzanne Strempek Shea, Sue William Silverman, Kim Stafford, Abigail Thomas, Jerald Walker, Joan Wickersham, and Monica Wood.
Jessica Handler is the author of Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief, and Invisible Sisters: A Memoir. Her nonfiction has appeared on NPR, in Tin House, Drunken Boat, Brevity, Newsweek, The Washington Post and More Magazine. Created by and for the writer who has experienced illness, loss, or the death of a loved one. Braving the Fire takes the writers’ perspective in exploring the challenges and rewards for the writer who has chosen to be the memory keeper. Loosely organized around the familiar Kubler-Ross “Five Stages of Grief,” Braving the Fire helps the reader and writer through the emotional and creative tasks before them, incorporating interviews and excerpts from other treasured writers who’ve done the same.
The three writers will appear together at this final program of the Kingston Spring Author Talks at the Kingston Council on Aging.
The ongoing author series is sponsored by the Kingston Public Library in cooperation with the Kingston Council on Aging and Kingston Public Library Foundation. The series is also sponsored by WATD 95.9 FM Radio.
Westwinds Bookshop will provide copies of the book for sale and signing.
Light refreshments will be offered, and although the program is free, registration is requested.