MM: What draws you to memoirs as a genre? KC: I have been writing longhand in journals since I was 12. It’s my most natural state. Coming out of college, I didn’t even understand that memoir was an option — I got my master’s in English literature, which doesn’t expose you to that genre. Even when I heard the term, I thought it was the sort of thing aging movie stars wrote. When I was 28, someone handed me Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions and I fell in love with the form.
MM: What’s the most important lesson you learned from your mother? KC: Love is an action verb. She has no interest, to this day, in talking about feelings. She doesn’t care about words and in fact, might be disinclined toward expression. For her, it’s all about actions. If a person can’t feel your love, don’t start talking. Start doing.
MM: Do you think it’s important to have one parent who holds it all together, or can everyone be glitter? KC: No question, kids need glue and it’s the harder job. But what my mom made very clear to me as I was writing this book is that she never resented her role. Given their dispositions and their schedules, she had no choice but to be the glue to my dad’s glitter. My dad had just enough time to get to the lacrosse field to watch our games and then rally the troops on the ride home. He made us feel good; she made us feel safe.
MM: How has your battle with illness affected the way you view relationships within your family? KC: When you’re in chemotherapy, people show you their very best, their most beautiful, patient, kind, compassionate selves. It’s when you return to real life that people start complaining and interrupting again. Illness brings our humanity to the surface in a way that little else does. I’m very grateful to know how much goodness there is, even if we can’t access it all the time. I have surprisingly fond memories of my family during that time.
Local Page Turners
Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan, Random House, $15. How do we learn from our parents and teach our children? Kelly Corrigan, the best-selling author of The Middle Place, takes readers on a sometimes painful, often hilarious look at her life as a daughter, mother, traveler and woman. Glitter and Glue is an honest, smart look at the winding roads of life, navigated by Corrigan’s wonderful writing and insights.
The Beautiful Unseen by Kyle Boelte, Counterpoint LLC, $14.95. This debut memoir focuses on Kyle Boelte’s time living in San Francisco, where he is enchanted with the city’s omnipresent fog. The book is a masterful telling of two parts — an investigation into what causes the city’s fog and an exploration into what led Boelte’s brother, Kris, to take his own life at a very young age. Appearing at Book Passage San Francisco February 11, 6 p.m.
Honoring Grief: Creating a Space to Let Yourself Heal by Alexandra Kennedy, New Harbinger, $16.95. Written by psychotherapist and grief expert Alexandra Kennedy, Honoring Grief provides a collection of inspirational wisdom and compassionate self-help tips for dealing with loss. Compatible with any religious or spiritual orientation, this book is a meaningful, comforting gift for a friend, family member or anyone recently touched by loss. Appearing at Book Passage Corte Madera February 7, 4 p.m.
What We Say Matters: Practicing Nonviolent Communication by Judith Hanson Lasater, Perseus Book Group, $14.95. In What We Say Matters, yoga teacher Judith Hanson Lasater offers new and nurturing ways of communicating, blending the yoga principle of satya (truth) and the Buddhist precept of right speech with Marshall Rosenberg’s groundbreaking techniques of nonviolent communication in a fresh formula for promoting peace at home, at work and in the world. Appearing at Book Passage Corte Madera February 10, 7 p.m.
The Forgetting Place by John Burley, HarperCollins, $14.99. A female psychiatrist at a state mental hospital finds herself at the center of a shadowy conspiracy in The Forgetting Place, a dark and twisting tale of psychological suspense. In his chilling follow-up to The Absence of Mercy, author John Burley — a master at medical and psychological detail — showcases the many ways in which the dangers of the outside world pale in comparison to the horrors of the human mind. Appearing at Book Passage Corte Madera February 19, 7 p.m.