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 author of over a dozen novels, including the bestsellers The Knitting Circle, The Obituary Writer, and The Book That Matters Most. Her debut novel, the bestseller Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine, has been in print since 1987. She has also written five memoirs, including Comfort: A Journey Through Grief, which is the story of her five-year-old daughter Grace who died from a virulent form of strep in 2002. The book was a NYT Editors’ Choice and was named one of the top ten non-fiction books of 2008 by Entertainment Weekly.
Her essays and short stories have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, Food and Wine, Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, The Paris Review, and many more.
She has won two Pushcart Prizes, two Best American Food Writing awards, a Best American Travel Writing award, and a Best American Spiritual Writing award,
Hood’s most recent book is her memoir, Fly Girl, which is about her eight years as a TWA flight attendant from the late 70s to the mid-80s, spanning the Golden Age of Flying through deregulation and the beginning of vast system wide changes.
Ann Hood splits her time between Providence, Rhode Island and New York City with her husband, the food writer Michael Ruhlman.