Writers Who Read Well, And Tricky Questions

I went to hear Joyce Maynard read at Pete’s Candy Store with my friend Billy last weekend. In addition to being a terrific writer, she’s an incredibly good reader. Engaging, entertaining and can really keep an audiences attention. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve attended a reading (toddlers, they have this effect on you) and I had totally forgotten how important it is for a writer to be able to read their work well. Wow, isn’t it enough to be able to write? And she looks really good too. Damn her!

I also just read her memoir At Home In The World about her time living with JD Salinger. For those of you who love memoir, take a look at the latest version with the new intro. She responds to all of the criticism she received at the time of the books original publication. And I think this is probably worth an entire blog post later on. . . but apparently certain people just didn’t feel her story was her story to tell. Hello, because it involved a famous and reclusive writer? Somehow I suspect that if Mr. Salinger had come out of hiding to tell HIS side of the story, no one would have blinked an eye, or been the slightest bit concerned about Ms. Maynard’s feelings. What do you think? Does everyone have a right to tell their story?

3 Comments

Filed under Writers

3 responses to “Writers Who Read Well, And Tricky Questions

  1. That sounds like an interesting memoir. I would love to read your entire blog post on who’s story can be told by whom. I did run into some difficulties with mine, but was able to get it sorted out. My other blog, http://www.theadventuresofgraykitty.com/,
    doesn’t create any sort of controversy :-).

    I think it’s ok to tell your story, but that it’s important to protect the privacy of others as much as possible.

  2. I think the key here is ‘my story’. If you speak truth and aren’t intentionally hurting anyone you should be able to tell it.
    Just my opinion. Wish I’d been able to go to the reading.
    barbara

  3. Interesting points. I was just at the Creative Nonfiction Writers Conference in Oxford, MS, and this topic came up more than once. Some writers were of the same opinion as Barbara that as long as you are speaking the truth and aren’t intentionally hurting anyone you should be free to tell your story. I also feel that way, but add the caveat that you’ve got to be able to take the fallout when people don’t see it your way. Some writers are taken aback when the people they wrote about, perhaps with the most benign of intentions, don’t like how they appear, or that they appear at all, in your writing. I think the writer has to be prepared for that reaction, and if they aren’t willing to risk, say, family members not speaking to them, then be willing to not put the story out there, or take parts out to preserve the relationship. As Lee Gutkind put it, “When you’re dealing with the truth, you’re not going to make a lot of friends.”

    On another note, I had the opportunity during the conference to hear Robert Goolrick read from his memoir, “The End of the World As We Know It,” and it was a staggeringly haunting and beautiful reading. I was not familiar with his work before, and he made quite an impression on me from the way he read.

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