Joyce Carol Oates on Widowhood

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Prolific author and Princeton professor Joyce Carol Oates recently appeared on the PBS NewsHour to speak with Jeffrey Brown about her new memoir, The Widow's Story (Ecco), in which she writes about her experience following the death of her husband three years ago. In this clip she discusses what she calls widowhood's "world of absurdity."

The Memoir Project

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"Just because it happened doesn't make it interesting." Author and teacher Marion Roach Smith offers this and other priceless nuggets of advice for anyone thinking of writing a memoir in The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life, forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing on June 9.

Ta-Nehisi Coates

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"I strongly believe that writing is an act of courage—it's almost an act of physical courage." Ta-Nehisi Coates talks about the personal strength necessary for writing, and reflects on his experience with breakthroughs. Coates's memoir Between the World and Me, published by Spiegel & Grau this week, is an exploration of racial history in the United States.

Transforming Tragedy Into Art

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Vaddey Ratner discusses In the Shadow of Banyan, a debut novel depicting her family's experience during the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s. "I didn't want to write a memoir," she says. "What I wanted was to honor the lives lost, those who perished, and I wanted to do so through my endeavor to transorm personal pain with art." In the Shadow of Banyan will be published by Simon & Schuster in July.

Luis J. Rodriguez

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"I ended up being the one that fell through the cracks," says poet, novelist, and journalist Luis J. Rodriguez, whose memoir Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. (Curbstone Press, 1993) elevated him as a major figure in contemporary Chicano literature. In this video from Open Road Media, Rodriguez tells his story and explains how books helped him escape a dangerous life on the streets of Los Angeles.

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