Facing a basement full of bones and later a diagnosis of inoperable sarcoma, Inge toured some of Europe’s notable charnel houses, pondering what remains of us after life and how to approach death with humility and awe. In an original blend of memoir, biography and nature writing, Macdonald reveals how raising Mabel the goshawk helped her heal after her father’s sudden death.
I teach American literature, so I often read biographies and other accounts of the most famous American writers, and honestly, is there a more famous American author, past or present, than Mark Twain?
The book jacket says the book covers everything “from Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock.” I was sold on reading the book on those points alone!
This filibustering hero spent 13 hours on her feet, with no break, to stand up for women’s rights. The movie The Princess Bride is one of the great fantasy movies from my generation, and will remain timeless for generations to come.
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Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant, a memoir in graphic novel form, was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the inaugural Kirkus Prize for nonfiction, and H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald is the first memoir to ever win the UK’s Samuel Johnson Prize for nonfiction.
This splendid posthumous book – a true memento mori but, more importantly, a timeless celebration of human vitality and collective memory – will long outlast the author’s too-short life (she died on Easter 2014).
Her collection of essays, Bad Feminist, is a work that analyzes so much of American culture. However, the book details much more than the most famous cases, characters, writers, and directors.
It takes great strength and fortitude to take a Democratic stand in Texas politics, and Wendy Davis has vast amounts of both.
Actor Cary Elwes shares his personal experiences before, during, and after his life as “The Dread Pirate Roberts.” Elwes, along with anecdotal cameos by various cast and crew members, brings a warmth and humor to his stories that make the movie that much more magical.
It will again go head-to-head with The Iceberg by Marion Coutts, another of the year’s best memoirs, for the Costa Biography Award. This is MacLean’s quirky account of his temporary amnesia, triggered by anti-malarial drug Lariam, and the emergence of a mosaic life as it started to make sense. This graphic memoir goes from being gut-bustingly hilarious to heartbreakingly sad—sometimes on the same page.


Whether it’s politics, technology, or entertainment, you can bet that Roxane Gay has something insightful to say about it. In her memoirs, she shares how her life experiences led her to where, and who, she is today. The news makes a rupture with what went before.” With these plain, unsentimental lines Coutts begins her devastating yet mysteriously gorgeous account of her husband Tom Lubbock’s decline and death from a brain tumor.
Scenes in an Indian mental hospital, where he hallucinates that Jim Henson is God, are unexpectedly hilarious.
Coutts’s language is a rather astonishing mixture of understated narration and artistic whimsy that pitches it perfectly between the twin pitfalls of dull reportage and mawkishness.



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