Monday, November 15, 2010

Uncommon Genius by Denise Shekerjian

Uncommon GeniusUncommon Genius by Denise Shekerjian

I have started rereading this book I purchased a few years back by Denise Shekerjian.  Oddly enough, this book was published in 1991, but I find the information just as useful today.  The book looks at quite a few MacArthur Genius grant winners, their lives, their creativity, and their thoughts.

What I like about this book is how it looks at these artists, writers, inventors, scientists, with an examining eye on creativity and creative impulse.  One of the biggest lessons I think I have received from this book is that these are creative people just living their passions, deeply.  They are not focusing on how this passion can make them 1) wealthy  2) famous  3) _____________ fill in the blank.  They are doing their art, their passion, their desires because they cannot live their lives without doing it.

There are many notes in the back of books the author read before she wrote this and it was truly amazing how much research went into this book.  These are not just basic interviews.  These are well-written accounts with background and details about MacArthur Genius Grant winners and their passions.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mary Karr - LIT : Recommended Reading

by Mary Karr Lit, A Memoir

I'm finally finishing up the memoir by Mary Karr called Lit.  It's about how she lived her life as an alcoholic for many many years.  Mary Karr is probably best known for me book, The Liars' Club: A Memoir, but also a book of poems, Sinners Welcome: PoemsViper Rum (Poets, Penguin), and The Devil's Tour.

I am listening to Lit on audiotape, which I highly recommend because it's read by Mary herself and it has that nice twang of her southern book that make it feel as if the book is being spoken just to the listener.

It's a pretty amazing story, first on how much she could drink and exist (and be productive) in her life and two, how much work it was for her to be an alcoholic.  From the hiding of beer cans and wine bottles, to buying them her alcohol from different liquor stores that no one caught on.  And if they did, no one said anything.

There was a surprising scene (well, to me) where she mentions Thomas Lux and as a writer.  Also I was interested in her process of becoming a writer which you learn throughout the book.  I have about 4 more chapters left, I think.  She's still drinking at this point and I wonder how this book will end.

For those of you who like memoir and if you are in academia or are a writer, you will probably find yourself completely lost in this story of alcoholism, creativity, being a mom, and keeping up appearances.  The behind-the-scenes look at one person's alcoholism was pretty amazing, but again, I was also amazed with how much she could get done while being an alcoholic.  A good observational account of what her life was.



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