How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays

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Named a Best Book by: TIME, Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Wired, Esquire, Buzzfeed, New York Public Library, Boston Globe, The Paris Review, Mother Jones,The A.V. Club, Out Magazine, Book Riot, Electric Literature, PopSugar, The Rumpus, My Republica, Paste, Bitch, Library Journal, Flavorwire, Bustle, Christian Science Monitor, Shelf Awareness, Tor.com, Entertainment Cheat Sheet, Roads and Kingdoms, Chicago Public Library, Hyphen Magazine, Entropy Magazine,The Chicago Review of Books, The Coil, iBooks, and Washington Independent Review of Books

Winner of the Publishing Triangle's Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction * Recipient of the Lambda Literary Trustees' Award
Finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay * Finalist for a Lambda Literary Award for Gay Memoir/Biography

From the author of The Queen of the Night, an essay collection exploring his education as a man, writer, and activist—and how we form our identities in life and in art.


As a novelist, Alexander Chee has been described as “masterful” by Roxane Gay, “incendiary” by the New York Times, and "brilliant" by the Washington Post. With How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, his first collection of nonfiction, he’s sure to secure his place as one of the finest essayists of his generation as well.
 
How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is the author’s manifesto on the entangling of life, literature, and politics, and how the lessons learned from a life spent reading and writing fiction have changed him. In these essays, he grows from student to teacher, reader to writer, and reckons with his identities as a son, a gay man, a Korean American, an artist, an activist, a lover, and a friend. He examines some of the most formative experiences of his life and the nation’s history, including his father’s death, the AIDS crisis, 9/11, the jobs that supported his writing—Tarot-reading, bookselling, cater-waiting for William F. Buckley—the writing of his first novel, Edinburgh, and the election of Donald Trump.
 
By turns commanding, heartbreaking, and wry, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel asks questions about how we create ourselves in life and in art, and how to fight when our dearest truths are under attack.
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About the author

ALEXANDER CHEE is a novelist and essayist and an associate professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College. He is a contributing editor at The New Republic, an editor at large at The Virginia Quarterly Review, and a critic at large at The Los Angeles Times.
 

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Additional Information

Publisher
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Published on
Apr 17, 2018
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9781328764416
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Language
English
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Genres
Language Arts & Disciplines / Composition & Creative Writing
Literary Collections / Essays
Literary Collections / LGBT
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The memoir is the most popular and expressive literary form of our time. Writers embrace the memoir and readers devour it, propelling many memoirs by relative unknowns to the top of the best-seller list. Writing programs challenge authors to disclose themselves in personal narrative. Memoir and personal narrative urge writers to face the intimacies of the self and ask what is true.

In The Memoir and the Memoirist, critic and memoirist Thomas Larson explores the craft and purpose of writing this new form. Larson guides the reader from the autobiography and the personal essay to the memoir—a genre focused on a particularly emotional relationship in the author’s past, an intimate story concerned more with who is remembering, and why, than with what is remembered.

The Memoir and the Memoirist touches on the nuances of memory, of finding and telling the truth, and of disclosing one’s deepest self. It explores the craft and purpose of personal narrative by looking in detail at more than a dozen examples by writers such as Mary Karr, Frank McCourt, Dave Eggers, Elizabeth Wurtzel, Mark Doty, Nuala O’Faolain, Rick Bragg, and Joseph Lelyveld to show what they reveal about themselves. Larson also opens up his own writing and that of his students to demonstrate the hidden mechanics of the writing process.

For both the interested reader of memoir and the writer wrestling with the craft, The Memoir and the Memoirist provides guidance and insight into the many facets of this provocative and popular art form.
 National Bestseller
New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice | An Indie Next Pick
A Best Book of the Year from NPR, Boston Globe, Buzzfeed, Esquire, San Francisco Chronicle,Time Out, Self, Jezebel, The Portland Mercury, Electric Literature, and Entropy Magazine

“It just sounds terrific. It sounds like opera.” —Joan Acocella, The New Yorker

“Sprawling, soaring, bawdy, and plotted like a fine embroidery.” —Scott Simon, NPR
 
“Dazzling.” —Wall Street Journal | “A brilliant performance.” —Washington Post
 
“Sweeping, richly detailed.” —People | “Masterful.” —Wired | “Spellbinding.” —BuzzFeed
 
A “wild opera of a novel,”* The Queen of the Night tells the mesmerizing story of Lilliet Berne, an orphan who left the American frontier for Europe and was swept into the glamour and terror of Second Empire France. She became a sensation of the Paris Opera, with every accolade but an original role—her chance at immortality. When one is offered to her, she finds the libretto is based on her deepest secret, something only four people have ever known. But who betrayed her? With “epic sweep, gorgeous language, and haunting details,”** Alexander Chee shares Lilliet’s cunning transformation from circus rider to courtesan to legendary soprano, retracing the path that led to the role that could secure her reputation—or destroy her with the secrets it reveals.

“If Lilliet Berne were a man, she might have been what nineteenth-century novels would call a swashbuckler: the kind of destiny-courting, death-defying character who finds intrigue and peril (and somehow, always, a fantastic pair of pantaloons) around every corner.” —Entertainment Weekly
 

  
Ellen DeGeneres published her first book of comic essays, the #1 bestselling My Point...and I Do Have One, way back in 1996. Not one to rest on her laurels, the witty star of stage and screen has since dedicated her life to writing a hilarious new book. That book is this book.
After years of painstaking, round-the-clock research, surviving on a mere twenty minutes of sleep a night, and collaborating with lexicographers, plumbers, and mathematicians, DeGeneres has crafted a book that is both easy to use and very funny. Along with her trademark ramblings, The Funny Thing Is...contains hundreds of succinct insights into her psyche, supplemented by easy-to-understand charts, graphs, and diagrams so that you'll never miss a joke.
Overseeing all aspects of production, DeGeneres labored over details both significant and insignificant, including typefaces, page number placement, and which of the thousands of world languages to use. Ultimately she selected English, as it's her mother tongue, but translations into Hindi and Pig Latin are already in the works.
DeGeneres takes an innovative approach to the organization of her book by utilizing a section in the beginning that includes the name of each chapter, along with a corresponding page number. She calls it the "Table of Contents," and she is confident that it will become the standard to which all books in the future will aspire.
Some of the other innovative features you'll find in this edition:
• More than 50,000 simple, short words arranged in sentences that form paragraphs.
• Thousands of observations on everyday life -- from terrible fashion trends to how to handle seating arrangements for a Sunday brunch with Paula Abdul, Diane Sawyer, and Eminem.
• All twenty-six letters of the alphabet.
Sure to make you laugh, The Funny Thing Is...is an indispensable reference for anyone who knows how to read or wants to fool people into thinking they do.
NATIONAL BESTSELLER Long-listed for PEN Open Book Award
Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography

Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, NPR, Time, The Boston Globe, Real Simple, Buzzfeed, Jezebel, Bustle, Library Journal, Chicago Public Library, and more

"This book moved me to my very core. . . . [All You Can Ever Know] should be required reading for anyone who has ever had, wanted, or found a family―which is to say, everyone.” ―Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere

What does it mean to lose your roots—within your culture, within your family—and what happens when you find them?

Nicole Chung was born severely premature, placed for adoption by her Korean parents, and raised by a white family in a sheltered Oregon town. From childhood, she heard the story of her adoption as a comforting, prepackaged myth. She believed that her biological parents had made the ultimate sacrifice in the hope of giving her a better life, that forever feeling slightly out of place was her fate as a transracial adoptee. But as Nicole grew up—facing prejudice her adoptive family couldn’t see, finding her identity as an Asian American and as a writer, becoming ever more curious about where she came from—she wondered if the story she’d been told was the whole truth.

With warmth, candor, and startling insight, Nicole Chung tells of her search for the people who gave her up, which coincided with the birth of her own child. All You Can Ever Know is a profound, moving chronicle of surprising connections and the repercussions of unearthing painful family secrets—vital reading for anyone who has ever struggled to figure out where they belong.

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
Winner of the James Michener/Copernicus Society Fellowship Prize
Lambda Literary Foundation Editor’s Choice Award
 
“[Chee] says volumes with just a few incendiary words.” —New York Times
 
“Arresting . . . profound and poetic . . . Chee’s voice is worth listening to.” —San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Alexander Chee gets my vote for the best new novelist I’ve read in some time. Edinburgh is moody, dramatic—and pure.” —Edmund White
 
Twelve-year-old Fee is a shy Korean American boy and a newly named section leader of the first sopranos in his local boys’ choir. But when Fee learns how the director treats his section leaders, he is so ashamed he says nothing of the abuse, not even when Peter, his best friend, is in line to be next. When the director is arrested, Fee tries to forgive himself for his silence. But when Peter takes his own life, Fee blames only himself. In the years that follow he slowly builds a new life, teaching near his hometown. There he meets a young student who is the picture of Peter and is forced to confront the past he believed was gone. Told with “the force of a dream and the heft of a life,”* Edinburgh marked Chee “as a major talent whose career will bear watching” (Publishers Weekly).
 
“A coming-of-age tale in the grand Romantic tradition, where passions run high, Cupid stalks Psyche, and love shares the dance floor with death . . . A lovely, nuanced, never predictable portrait of a creative soul in the throes of becoming.” —Washington Post
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