Memoirs You May Have Missed

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Stand Up Straight and Sing!: A Memoir by Jessye Norman.

“The opera star describes her childhood in the segregated South, the values that shaped her ambitions, her meteoric rise at the Berlin Opera, and the accomplishments that have established her as one of America’s most decorated singers.”

 

First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung.

“From a childhood survivor of Cambodia’s brutal Pol Pot regime comes an unforgettable narrative of war crimes and desperate actions, the unnerving strength of a small girl and her family, and their triumph of spirit.

Until the age of five, Lounge Ung lived in Phnom Penh, one of seven children of a high-ranking government official. She was a precocious child who loved the open city markets, fried crickets, chicken fights, and sassing her parents. While her beautiful mother worried that Loung was a troublemaker — that she stomped around like a thirsty cow — her beloved father knew Lounge was a clever girl.

When Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge army stormed into Phnom Penh in April 1975, Ung’s family fled their home and moved from village to village to hide their identity, their education, their former life of privilege. Eventually, the family dispersed in order to survive.

Because Lounge was resilient and determined, she was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans, while other siblings were sent to labor camps. As the Vietnamese penetrated Cambodia,destroying the Khmer Rouge, Loung and her surviving siblings were slowly reunited.

Bolstered by the shocking bravery of one brother, the vision of the others — and sustained be her sister’s gentle kindness amid brutality — Loung forged on to create for herself a courageous new life.” (HarperCollins)

The Happiness Project: or why I spent a year trying to sing in the morning, clean my closets, fight right, read Aristotle, and generally have more fun by Gretchen Rubin.

“A thoughtful and prescriptive work on happiness filled with practical advice, sharp insight, charm, and humor.”

 

 

Just Kids by Patti Smith.

“In this memoir, singer-songwriter Patti Smith shares tales of New York City : the denizens of Max’s Kansas City, the Hotel Chelsea, Scribner’s, Brentano’s and Strand bookstores and her new life in Brooklyn with a young man named Robert Mapplethorpe–the man who changed her life with his love, friendship, and genius.”

 

A Pearl in the Storm: how I found my heart in the middle of the ocean by Tori Murden McClure.

“During June 1998, Tori McClure set out to row across the Atlantic Ocean by herself in a 23-foot plywood boat with no motor or sail. She lost communications, but nevertheless decided to keep going, without updates on the location of the Gulf Stream and the weather–in what became the North Atlantic’s worst hurricane season. When a series of violent storms nearly killed her, she had to signal for help and go home in what felt like complete disgrace. Back in Kentucky, however, Tori’s life began to change. At the age of 35, she embarked on a serious relationship for the first time, making her feel even more vulnerable than sitting alone in the middle of the Atlantic. But she knew she did not want to be known as the woman who “almost” rowed across the Atlantic Ocean.” (From publisher description)

A Widow’s Story by Joyce Carol Oates.

A Widow’s Story illuminates one woman’s struggle to comprehend a life without the partnership that had sustained and defined her for nearly half a century. As never before, Joyce Carol Oates shares the derangement of denial, the anguish of loss, the disorientation of the survivor amid a nightmare of “death-duties,” and the solace of friendship. She writes unflinchingly of the experience of grief—the almost unbearable suspense of the hospital vigil, the treacherous “pools” of memory that surround us, the vocabulary of illness, the absurdities of commercialized forms of mourning. Here is a frank acknowledgment of the widow’s desperation—only gradually yielding to the recognition that “this is my life now.”

Enlivened by the piercing vision, acute perception, and mordant humor that are the hallmarks of the work of Joyce Carol Oates, this moving tale of life and death, love and grief, offers a candid, never-before-glimpsed view of the acclaimed author and fiercely private woman.” (Blackwell Publishing)

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