Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Impact: a review

Impact: An Anthology of Short Memoirs
Edited by CoCo Harris

Old Friend from Far Away
Natalie Goldberg
Free Press

Telling our stories. I study the names on the back cover—so many, each person has a story to tell, so many stories. Lately I’ve been working with flash memoir, taking a singular memory, freeze-framing it, then exploring it through the window of the present. Impact took the same view.

A decade ago the average short story was 16 – 20 pages double spaced, today flash fiction and even micro fiction is all the rage, for the digital age, formatted for the hand-held device. By freeze-framing different memories/moments, we are led to examine and perhaps draw insight. For writers of memoir, looking back on an entire life is sometimes overwhelming like attempting a marathon, but by breaking it down and taking it one step at a time, we can find joy in the journey.

The book’s strength is that one memory or entry in the anthology usually led me down a path of my own memories. For this is would be good to help jumpstart other readers/writers, inspiring them. It is good for stirring up old fires and rekindling memories. Much like another book, Old Friend from Far Away written by the well-known writing teacher Natalie Goldberg whose Writing Down the Bones is a standard in every serious writer’s library. Old Friend from Far Away is more than a manual on writing memoir, but a deep well from which to source memories just below the surface.

I would definitely recommend both Impact and Old Friend from Far Away for writing instructors, critique groups, and book clubs to help propel members into their past and hopefully inspire them to write it all down.

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