Each week will begin with my introduction of a topic for that week’s memoir assignment. Topics will include Food, Place, Love, and Loss. I will email you examples from writers I admire such as Jonathan Lethem, JoAnn Beard, Cheryl Strayed, and Tony Early and discuss how they have accomplished writing these strong essays. How did they introduce their idea? How did they develop it? How did they use characters, dialogue, setting, metaphor and other elements of the craft to achieve their emotional impact? You will write an essay on that topic and share it with the class. Their comments–along with mine–will provide a forum for discussion. I will also have a one on one email conversation with you in which I will offer suggestions for revision. These short exercises will be the building blocks for your final personal essay. You might expand one of the shorter pieces, or combine several of them, or use them as a springboard to a new topic. Although you don’t need to have workshop experience for this class, you must feel comfortable with literary discussion at the intermediate level.
Ann Hood is the bestselling author of fourteen novels, including The Knitting Circle, The Obituary Writer, and The Book That Matters Most; and four memoirs. Her memoir Comfort: A Journey Through Grief was a NYT Editor’s Choice and was named one of the top ten nonfiction books of 2008 by Entertainment Weekly. Her essays and stories have appeared in many publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Travel and Leisure, Food and Wine, National Geographic Traveler, and The Paris Review. She has won two Pushcart Prizes, two Best American Food Writing Awards, and a Best American Travel Writing and Best American Spiritual Writing Award. Her most recent book is FLY GIRL, a memoir about her time as a TWA flight attendant during the Golden Age of flying.