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The Art of Time in Memoir

Then, Again
Sven Birkerts
In The Art of Time in Memoir, critic, editor, and memoirist Sven Birkerts examines the human impulse to write about oneself. "Memoir is, for better and often for worse, the genre of our times," Birkerts admits. But what makes one memoir memorable and another self-serving? What makes the difference between graceful disclosure and sensational self-exposure? Birkerts passionately argues that the memoirist's strategies for navigating time itself reveal the power and resonance of a writer's life. By examining memoirs such as Vladimir Nabokov's Speak, Memory, Virginia Woolf's unfinished A Sketch of the Past, and Mary Karr's The Liar's Club, Birkerts describes the memoirist's essential art of assembling patterns of meaning, stirring to life our own sense of past and present.

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Critic and memoirist Sven Birkert's meditation on the allure and the dangers of chronology as a writer renders his own life

About the Author

Sven  Birkerts
Credit: Mara Birkerts
Sven Birkerts is the author of Changing the Subject, The Other Walk, Reading Life, Readings, The Gutenberg Elegies, and a memoir, My Sky Blue Trades. He currently teaches at Harvard University and at the Bennington Writing Seminars and is the editor of AGNI. He lives in Arlington, Massachusetts.

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  • “Among the most insightful books on the genre.”—Ron Slate
  • “Expansive and eclectic and laserous and lucid and impassioned and heartlessly smart. Birkerts is the most interesting and persuasive critic in the U.S. today.”—David Foster Wallace
  • “To read Birkerts is to hear (and enjoy hearing) the voice of literary conscience.”—Seamus Heaney
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