When I was in the third grade, I went trick or treating in a Bullwinkle J. Moose costume. You know the kind. It came in a box, and my mother probably bought it at a Zayre department store. It was a thin, rayon suit with a plastic mask, the kind with the elastic band that…

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Our lives are made up of many strands—some of experience, some of memory, some of meditation and reflection, some of ongoing action. Those who write memoir must find the appropriate forms for ensuring that the textures of life will have their full expression. What we know about the braided essay offers us a plan for…

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Flannery O’Connor famously said, “Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. There’s many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.” Granted, there’s probably more than a nugget of truth in what O’Connor said, but this quote has…

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I’ve often reported a saying of my father’s: “If if’s and but’s were candies and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas.” For a man who didn’t read any book but the Bible, he had a way with language. His saying takes me into the land of if-only’s, and I start to think about how…

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I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about memoirs that don’t tell their stories in traditional narratives. Maybe they shake up chronology. Maybe they fragment it. Maybe they let it spin off into patterns of association. For the sake of convenience, I’ll call these lyric memoirs, though I suppose we could just as easily call…

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