Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Memoir Trends: Prison, Death, and Alcohol

I read a huge number of memoirs. It is easily my largest subcategory. Last year I noticed that I read several books about prison (In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White, The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore, and Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman.) I never had read any memoirs involving prison before, so reading 3 in a year felt like more than a coincidence. I also read a lot of memoirs about great loss (What We Have by Amy Boesky, What I Thought I Knew by Alice Eve Cohen, An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken.) In the past I've also had trends of travel memoirs, and food memoirs.

This year, I can already see the trend. Addiction. I just read Drinking by Caroline Knapp, and I really want to read a few other books that I already own: Lit by Mary Karr, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, and Smashed by Koren Zailckas. I also have heard great things about Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher. And maybe this is the year I finally read Angela's Ashes. And I want to read the history book Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent.

So I figured I'd see what else is out there in this genre. Other options: A Drinking Life by Pete Hamill, and Dry by Augusten Burroughs. What other books should I consider in this genre?


Teacher/Learner said...

Wishful Drinking was the first book I reviewed on my blog back in August. It's a quick, single sitting kind of read & hilarious! Carrie Fisher's one-woman show is on HBO now which makes a great companion to the book.

Tammy said...

I have read Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher. I would love to compare notes when you are done. It was very interesting.

Bailey said...

It's interesting that subgenres seem to progress through different trends as time goes on. Other than The Glass Castle, which you mentioned, I can't really think of any others that fit the theme. The Glass Castle was my favorite memoir read during 2010, though, so I hope you like it!

christa @ mental foodie said...

Definitely read the Glass Castle!

Have you read Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs? If not, I'd read that first before Dry. Running talks about his childhood, and I think you'd appreciate Dry more if you know about his dysfunction childhood. I'd read all his memoirs, and Running is my favorite. There was one chapter in Dry that was very touching though.

I'd read some about the author's children's drug addiction (mostly meth). If you want I can look up the titles, been a few years since I read them.

Haven't read the others you mentioned so can't comment.

Christy said...

The Glass Castle is fantastic, though I guess I don't remember addiction being a prominent focus of the book.

I have read Smashed and found it wasn't as engaging as I thought it would be.

Not sure I know of others in the subgenre.