Annal: 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography

Results of the National Book Critics Circle Award in the year 2009.

Book:Somewhere Towards the End

Somewhere Towards the End: A Memoir

Diana Athill

Diana Athill will be ninety in December, 2007. “Somewhere Towards the End” tells the story of what it means to be old: how the pleasure of sex ebbs, how the joy of gardening grows, how much there is to remember, to forget, to regret, to forgive—and how one faces the inevitable fact of death. Athill has lost none of her skill or candour as a writer, her love of the intimate detail. Her book is filled with stories, events and people, and the kind of honest, intelligent reflection that has been a hallmark of her writing throughout her long career. ‘We rarely did anything together except make ourselves a pleasant little supper and go to bed, because we had very little in common apart from liking sex,’ she writes of her last affair, when she was in her late sixties. ‘We also shared painful feet, which was almost as important as liking sex, because when you start feeling your age it is comforting to be with someone in the same condition.’Diana’s previous books are: “Instead of a Letter”, “After a…[more]

Book:City Boy: My Life

City Boy: My Life in New York During the 1960s and '70s

Edmund White

An irresistible literary treat: a memoir of the social and sexual lives of New York City’s cultural and intellectual in-crowd in the tumultuous 1970s, from acclaimed author Edmund White.

In the New Y ork of the 1970s, in the wake of Stonewall and in the midst of economic collapse, you might find the likes of Jasper Johns and William Burroughs at the next cocktail party, and you were as likely to be caught arguing Marx at the New York City Ballet as cruising for sex in the warehouses and parked trucks along the Hudson. This is the New York that Edmund White portrays in City Boy: a place of enormous intrigue and artistic tumult. Combining the no-holds-barred confession and yearning of A Boy’s Own Story with the easy erudition and sense of place of The Flaneur, this is the story of White’s years in 1970s New York, bouncing from intellectual encounters with Susan Sontag and Harold Brodkey to erotic entanglements downtown to the burgeoning gay scene of artists and writers. It’s a moving, candid, brilliant portrait of a time and place, full of encounters with famous names and cultural icons.

Book:Enemies of the People

Enemies of the People: My Family's Journey to America

Kati Marton

“You are opening a Pandora’s box,” Marton was warned when she filed for her family’s secret police fi les in Budapest. But her family history—during both the Nazi and the Communist periods—was too full of shadows. The files revealed terrifying truths: secret love aff airs, betrayals inside the family circle, torture and brutalities alongside acts of stunning courage—and, above all, deep family love.

In this true-life thriller, Kati Marton, an accomplished journalist, exposes the cruel mechanics of the Communist Terror State, using the secret police files on her journalist parents as well as dozens of interviews that reveal how her family was spied on and betrayed by friends and colleagues, and even their children’s babysitter. In this moving and brave memoir, Marton searches for and finds her parents, and love. …[more]

Book:Lit: A Memoir

Lit: A Memoir

Mary Karr

The Liars’ Club brought to vivid, indelible life Mary Karr’s hardscrabble Texas childhood. Cherry, her account of her adolescence, “continued to set the literary standard for making the personal universal” (Entertainment Weekly). Now Lit follows the self-professed blackbelt sinner’s descent into the inferno of alcoholism and madness—and to her astonishing resurrection.

Karr’s longing for a solid family seems secure when her marriage to a handsome, Shakespeare-quoting blueblood poet produces a son they adore. But she can’t outrun her apocalyptic past. She drinks herself into the same numbness that nearly devoured her charismatic but troubled mother, reaching the brink of suicide. A hair-raising stint in “The Mental Marriott,” with an oddball tribe of gurus and saviors, awakens her to the possibility of joy and leads her to an unlikely faith. Not since Saint Augustine…[more]

Book:Live Through This

Live Through This: A Mother's Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love

Debra Gwartney

With four young daughters and a miserably failed marriage, Debra Gwartney moves halfway across the country to Eugene, Oregon, for a new job and what she hopes will be a new life for herself and her daughters. The two oldest, Amanda, 15, and Stephanie, 13, have a symbiotic relationship so intense they barely know where one begins and the other leaves off. They come to blame their mother for their family’s dislocation and one day the two run off together—to the streets of their own city, then San Francisco, then utterly gone. Faced with the unraveling of the family she thought she could hold together through blind love, Gwartney begins the painful—and universal—journey of recognizing her own flawed motivations as a mother. Live Through This chronicles Gwartney’s frantic efforts to recover the beautiful, intelligent daughters she cherishes. The triumph of her story is its sensitive rendering of how all three women have dug deep for forgiveness and a return to profound love.

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