Memoir Books

Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa

Rating:  Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa, by Peter Godwin. Grove Press (1996), 418 pages. “I think I first realized something was wrong when our next-door neighbor, oom Piet Oberholzer, was murdered. I must have been about six then.” Is this not a just-right...

A Widow’s Story

Rating:  A Widow’s Story: A Memoir, by Joyce Carol Oates. Ecco (2011), 415 pages. Joyce Carol Oates, in my experience, is a writer you either love or hate (love because of how effortlessly and incisively she maps out the terrain inside her...

Blood, Bones & Butter

Rating:   Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, by Gabrielle Hamilton.  Random House (2011), 291 pages. Hamilton has written a smart, funny book that stands out in the glutted chef/memoirist category in that she writes...

Coming of Age in Mississippi

Rating:  Coming of Age in Mississippi, by Anne Moody. Random House (1968), 432 pages. I saw this for sale in the textbook section of a university bookstore and bought it because (apart from the obvious reason that that it’s a coming-of-age memoir from the...

Let’s Take the Long Way Home

Rating:  Let’s Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship, by Gail Caldwell. Random House (2010), 190 pages. Let’s Take the Long Way Home is Caldwell’s story of her friendship with the writer Caroline Knapp who died of cancer in 2002....

House of Happy Endings

Rating:  House of Happy Endings, by Leslie Garis. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2008), 360 pages. The title of this memoir refers to Garis’s grandfather’s stories for children (Uncle Wiggily, as well as Tom Swift and hundreds of others) in which...

Turning Stones

Rating:  Turning Stones: My Days and Nights With Children at Risk, by Marc Parent. Ballantine Books (1998), 400 pages. This is the memoir of a caseworker for Emergency Children’s Services in New York City. The stories the author tells of the children...

This Boy’s Life

Rating:  This Boy’s Life:  A Memoir, by Tobias Wolff.  Grove Press (2000), 304 pages. In This Boy’s Life, Wolff writes about growing up in the 1950s, moving from state to state with his mother as she tries to escape a violent boyfriend.  His...

A Charmed Life

Rating:  A Charmed Life: Growing Up in Macbeth’s Castle, by Liza Campbell. Thomas Dunne Books (2006), 324 pages. Cawdor Castle is fifteen miles east of Inverness, Scotland, an area with countless castles both standing and in various stages of ruin (nearby...

All Souls

Rating:  All Souls: A Family Story from Southie, by Michael Patrick MacDonald. Ballantine Books (1999), 265 pages. The six kids on the cover of this book (the photo wraps around to the back) are only the beginning of the story—the author and...