Phillip Lopate, a central figure in the revival of the American essay joins Let’s Talk Memoir for a conversation about the integral role the divided self plays in memoir, striking the balance between telling and showing, how knowing your own flaws and defects helps build trust with the reader, why the intelligent narrator must be present from page one, and why having an interesting take on your story is as if not more important than the story itself.
Also in this episode:
-why memoirs aren’t for getting even
-turning yourself into a character
-narcissistic parents in memoir
Memoirs mentioned in this episode:
Borrowed Finery by Paula Fox
Memoirs of a Catholic Girlhood by Mary McCarthy
My Father Myself by J.R. Ackerly
My Dog Tulip by J.R. Ackerly
Phillip Lopate is a central figure in the revival of the American essay, both through his ubiquitous edited anthology, Art of the Personal Essay, and his own essay collections, Bachelorhood, Against Joie de Vivre, Portrait of My Body and Portrait Inside My Head. He is also the author of such book-length nonfiction works as To Show and to Tell, Being with Children, Waterfront, Notes on Sontag, Rudy Burckhardt: Photographer and A Mother’s Tale. Additionally, he has written books of fiction (Confessions of Summer, The Rug Merchant, Two Marriages) and poetry (At the End of the Day). Finally, he has edited other anthologies (Writing New York and American Movie Critics), and is currently completing a three-volume historical anthology of the American essay. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a winner of Guggenheim, New York Public Library and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, he is on the faculty of Columbia University’s Graduate Writing Program, School of the Arts.
Ronit’s essays and fiction have been featured in The Atlantic, The Rumpus, The New York Times, The Iowa Review, The Washington Post, Writer’s Digest, American Literary Review, and elsewhere. Her memoir WHEN SHE COMES BACK about the loss of her mother to the guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and their eventual reconciliation was named Finalist in both the 2021 Best Book Awards and the 2021 Book of the Year Award and a 2021 Best True Crime Book by Book Riot. Her short story collection HOME IS A MADE-UP PLACE won Hidden River Arts’ 2020 Eludia Award and will be published in 2022. She is host and producer of the podcasts And Then Everything Changed and The Body Myth.
More about Ronit: https://ronitplank.com
More about WHEN SHE COMES BACK, a memoir: https://ronitplank.com/book/
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Background photo credit: Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash
Headshot photo credit: Sarah Anne Photography
Theme music: Isaac Joel, Dead Moll’s Fingers