Book Reviews

Latest Review:


Shimmering Images:

A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir

By Lisa Dale Norton

144 pages/ St. Martin’s Griffin / 2008 / $13.95 paperback / $9.99 Kindle

Reviewed by Holly Cooley

Perhaps the greatest praise I can give Lisa Dale Norton’s book is to mention that as soon as I finished reading it, I signed up for her next on-line class. 

I took Memoir Writing I: Mastering the Basics, not because this short book wasn’t satisfying, but because it was so satisfying I wanted to learn more. After reading Norton’s memoir handbook, I wanted her to be my guide in writing my memoir.

Norton first explains the difference between memoir and autobiography. She reveals her method of plumbing your own life for the shimmering images or memory pictures that will make up your memoir. Then she explains how to use them to discover meaning in your life and how to deal with the emotions they will trigger. Lastly, she suggests ways you can refine your storytelling by using the tools of writing. 

What I like about Norton’s approach is that she is practical and avoids jargon. She is not writing for writers, but for everyone. When Norton discusses imagery in one of the final chapters, she says not to worry whether you’re using a metaphor or a simile. What you want to do is make your imagery rise above clichés. Then she gives you concrete methods of doing just that.

An old saw claims that everyone has a novel inside. I’m not sure I believe that, but perhaps everyone does have a memoir inside. Lisa Dale Norton’s book makes it possible for you to write the truth of your life, even if you never write anything else. What a gift for your family your memories could create – your children, your grandchildren - or even a wider audience.

In Shimmering Images, Lisa Dale Norton has put to good use her experience writing her own memoir, Hawk Flies Above: Journey to the Heart of the Sandhills, as well as teaching countless memoir workshops and classes across the country. She encourages you to collect your memories, shape them into a memoir in order to understand your past, and thus understand your future.

There’s a winning equation in this book for anyone willing to take up the challenge: 

Your Memories + Shimmering Images = Your Memoir.

© Holly Cooley 2011