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American Poems: Book: I Could Tell You Stories: Sojourns in the Land of Memory
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I Could Tell You Stories: Sojourns in the Land of Memory

I Could Tell You Stories: Sojourns in the Land of Memory
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  • Author:Patricia Hampl
  • Publisher:W. W. Norton & Company
  • Category:Book
  • List Price: $18.95
  • Buy New: $3.60
  • as of 4/18/2014 06:58 EDT details
  • You Save: $15.35 (81%)
In Stock
New (44) Used (85) from $1.39
  • Seller:booksandbling
  • Sales Rank:348,213
  • Languages:English (Unknown), English (Original Language), English (Published)
  • Media:Paperback
  • Number Of Items:1
  • Edition:Reprint
  • Pages:240
  • Shipping Weight (lbs):0
  • Dimensions (in):8.4 x 5.5 x 0.8
  • Publication Date:August 17, 2000
  • ISBN:0393320316
  • EAN:9780393320312
  • ASIN:0393320316
Availability:Usually ships in 1-2 business days


Editorial Reviews:
Synopsis

Memoir has become the signature genre of our age.

In this timely gathering, Patricia Hampl, one of our most elegant practitioners, "weaves personal stories and grand ideas into shimmering bolts of prose" (Minneapolis Star Tribune) as she explores the autobiographical writing that has enchanted or bedeviled her. Subjects engaging Hampl's attention include her family's response to her writing, the ethics of writing about family and friends, St. Augustine's Confessions, reflections on reading Walt Whitman during the Vietnam War, and an early experience reviewing Sylvia Plath. The word that unites the impulse within all the pieces is "Remember!"—a command that can be startling. For to remember is to make a pledge: to the indelible experience of personal perception, and to history itself.
Amazon.com Review
In this collection of essays, Patricia Hampl attempts to explain the lure of the memoir. It is today one of the most popular literary genres, but not long ago, readers would have been hard-pressed even to find memoir sections in their favorite bookstores. Hampl, who herself is a memoirist of note (A Romantic Education and Virgin Time) opens the book with some of her own memories. She recalls a bus trip during the Vietnam War era to visit her "draft resister" boyfriend in jail. When the bus stops along the way in a small town, she notices a large, middle-age woman passionately kissing a very handsome, much younger man, or is it the other way around? The woman boards the bus while the young man runs along outside, blowing her kisses. She takes the seat next to Hampl and says with a sigh, "I could tell you stories."

This small event sets the stage for the rest of the book--it draws a narrative out of a mostly mundane moment and underscores the complicated nature of remembering events as they actually happened. She writes that because "everyone 'has' a memoir, we all have a stake in how such stories are told. For we do not, after all, simply have experience; we are entrusted with it." In the balance of the book, Hampl examines the autobiographical writings of St. Augustine, Anne Frank, Sylvia Plath, Edith Stein, and Czeslaw Milosz. In each instance, she attempts to uncover the writer's intentions and reveal the true secrets that lurk in the shadows of what's on the page. I Could Tell You Stories is an excellent investigation into what makes a story essentially worthy of being told and ultimately read--a good companion to whatever book is currently in your hands. --Jordana Moskowitz


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