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How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays | Alexander Chee
A Mariner Original From the author of The Queen of the Night, an essay collection exploring his education as a man, writer, and activistand how we form our identities in life and in art. As a novelist, Alexander Chee has been described as masterful by Roxane Gay, incomparable by Junot Daz, and incendiary by the New York Times. With How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, his first collection of nonfiction, hes sure to secure his place as one of the finest essayists of his generation as well. How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is the authors manifesto on the entangling of life, literature, and politics, and how the lessons learned from a life spent reading and writing fiction have changed him. In these essays, he grows from student to teacher, reader to writer, and reckons with his identities as a son, a gay man, a Korean American, an artist, an activist, a lover, and a friend. He examines some of the most formative experiences of his life and the nations history, including his fathers death, the AIDS crisis, 9/11, the jobs that supported his writingTarot-reading, bookselling, cater-waiting for William F. Buckleythe writing of his first novel, Edinburgh, and the election of Donald Trump. By turns commanding, heartbreaking, and wry, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel asks questions about how we create ourselves in life and in art, and how to fight when our dearest truths are under attack.
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squirrelbrain
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Pickpick

I found this collection of essays rather enlightening. Chee covers many different topics, including tarot-reading, living in San Francisco during the AIDS crisis, his identity as a gay man, growing roses and, of course, how to write.

Chee was born in #rhodeisland so that‘s another state ticked off the list!

#readingUSA2019

Librarybelle Yay! 2mo
BarbaraBB Good one! My next book will be my Rhode Island choice too! 2mo
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UnabridgedPod
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Pickpick

I haven't read a book in a long time that swept me away in quite the way that Alexander Chee's How to Write an Autobiographical Novel. This essay collection (and while I love essay collections, I can't say they often sweep me away!) is absolutely gorgeous. And sad. And thoughtful. Chee can write--I mean, REALLY write--and the topics he's chosen balance perfectly big ideas with a narrow focus. (continued in comments)

UnabridgedPod Here, he takes on elements of his own identity, including his race, his homosexuality, the early death of his father, the betrayal of his father's family. He also explores his writing--his decision to pursue writing academically, his moves across the country to support a writing career, teaching writing, and in the title essay, how--and why--he continues writing. ⬇️ (edited) 3mo
UnabridgedPod For me, Chee's book will go alongside Stephen King's On Writing in considering the power of writing--and of reading--to bring about change.⠀

I would love--LOVE--to teach this book.⠀

Also, I know that the quotation in the image is too long, but I just couldn't resist. I wanted to quote the whole book.❤️
3mo
UnabridgedPod Just caught the typo in the image. 😢 3mo
10 likes3 comments
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CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian
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Pickpick

This is an amazing, diverse collection of personal essays. Topics range from a teenage summer spent in Mexico, to getting really into tarot, becoming a writer, the HIV / AIDS epidemic, identities of being Korean American and gay, being a student and a teacher, and lots more. I loved his voice and how he got to the heart of big issues while sometimes writing ostensibly about smaller, everyday things. Excellently read with precision and feeling.

CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian "Your imagination needs to be broken in, I think, to become anywhere near as weird as the world."

"It's a strange time to teach someone to write stories. But I think it always is. This is just our strange time."
4mo
CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian "I was someone who didn't know how to find the path he was on. The one under his feet. This, it seems to me, is why we have teachers."
#QueerBooks #AwesomeAudiobooks
4mo
suzisteffen I love this book so incredibly much, and actually every Alex Chee book and essay and article. He‘s amazing. ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜💖 4mo
CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian @suzisteffen This is my first book by him, I'll definitely be seeking out more! 4mo
Megabooks It‘s a great book! 4mo
33 likes5 comments
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CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian
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Only two essays in but I am loving this book! Topics touched on so far include being biracial, spending a summer in Mexico, his father's death, and tarot cards. I really like how he weaves together the lighter and heavier subjects together in one essay while still feeling cohesive. #AwesomeAudiobooks #audiobook #QueerBooks

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inmegslibrary
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“Being real means being at home in this face, just as it is when I wake up.”

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Liberty
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Happy Valentine‘s Day, you glorious humans. 📚❤️📚

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LauraBeth
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Good stuff to think about (which is applicable to more than just writing) from Alexander Chee.

saresmoore !!! I love this. 9mo
LittleBug Very profound, love it! 9mo
LauraBeth @saresmoore It really resonated with me! Glad to hear it did with you as well. 😀 9mo
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LauraBeth @LittleBug I know, right?! 9mo
JSW This is powerful! 9mo
ValerieAndBooks Wow!! 9mo
LauraBeth @jsw I thought so too! 9mo
Suet624 That‘s lovely. 9mo
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The_Real_Nani
Pickpick

A memoir of a writer‘s life, the best kind of memoir because it blends in some really great advice on writing.

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AMVP
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Pickpick

A phenomenal read that has me stoked to check out his other writings. Serves as a guide for pursuing writing yourself, and offers one of the best insights into the life of a writer I've ever come across.

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The_Real_Nani
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Unexpected hour or so to myself. Thankfully, I had the foresight to throw a book into my bag before leaving the house!

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Well-ReadNeck
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#Recommendsday

One of my favorite books of 2018. It also prompted me to pick up more books of essays.

https://wellreadneck.wordpress.com/2018/12/21/how-to-write-an-autobiographical-n...

kgriffith I stacked this then un-stacked it bc I‘m signed up for #kindlitsy and don‘t want a potential gifter to think I don‘t own it yet — yes, I‘m adding this to why we need separate stacks for TBRead vs TBAcquired 😏 I got it when he came to Print: A Bookstore and I went to get a copy for @ph9k and got one for myself because why not? 11mo
rwmg Yes, that is my No. 1 request for Litsy, separate TBR and Wishlist stacks 11mo
Well-ReadNeck @rwmg It true. Avid readers need to keep track of multiple lists. It would. Be nice if the LibraryThing list abilities could be linked to the quick and easy Litsy add to stack button somehow. 11mo
kgriffith @rwmg @Well-ReadNeck I know that the ultimate goal is to integrate, and stacks will probably be at the same level as collections. I could see the “to read” stack being optionally combined with Wishlist, as that‘s a native collection. 11mo
ionacraig In a similar vein of essays on writing, I‘d highly recommend Nonconformity by Nelson Algren. 11mo
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Liberty
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This right here is easily one of the best books of the year. You would be hard-pressed to find a smarter, more insightful writer working today. (I loved it so much, I had to have the teal UK edition too.)😝❤️📚

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Megabooks
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Bailedbailed

Y‘all, this book is beautiful. I have so much respect for his life and what he‘s chosen to share

That said, I‘m 84% in and reading his final few essays. I am getting extremely triggered by his childhood sexual abuse. I‘m just getting past a long bout of depression that was the worst of my life, so I‘m going to bail.

If this is not a TW for you, read this awesome book!!!

Copwithabook I love this very honest review. And I‘m so glad you recognized that it was triggering you and put it aside. Self care can be terribly difficult. 12mo
jmofo 💜 12mo
Megabooks @Copwithabook Thank you, and yes it can. Chee‘s writing is so elegant and honest, I felt I owed it to him. 12mo
Megabooks @jmofo 🤗❤️ 12mo
105 likes5 comments
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Megabooks
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I am, quite surprisingly, enjoying this essay collection immensely. I‘ve never read his fiction, but I‘ve got to check it out.

PS @Cinfhen see what‘s hanging out to be up next in my #nonfictionNovember lineup 😉😘 Thanks for reminding me I owned that!

#nonfiction #striveforten

Cinfhen Cool!! Let me know your thoughts 😂🙌🏻❣️ 12mo
REPollock I loved both of his novels, which are very different from one another. ❤️ 12mo
Megabooks @REPollock It sounds like he‘s always written diversely. His first type of writing was sci fi and fanfic. He also wrote quite a bit of nonfiction before this book. Talented guy. 12mo
Megabooks @Cinfhen I will #trainwreck 😱🤪😁 (edited) 12mo
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slategreyskies
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Up next on my mountain-high TBR list! Also included in the photo is the cherry blossom printed journal that DH got me at B&N a couple weekends ago. ❤️

DivineDiana Pretty journal! 13mo
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Brooke_H
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@REPollock Thank you, Rachel! Deckled edges and French flaps! 😍

REPollock Yay it made it there! 1y
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Hooked_on_books
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Pickpick

Chee‘s marvelous book of essays is deeply felt and exposes his vulnerability in the best way. He has so much trust, releasing these experiences into the world. This one took me a while to get through, as I needed time to process. Marvelous.

#dogsofLitsy #Bindi

Soubhiville Aw, what a sweet sleepy pup. Sietje is not ok with me leaning books on her, lol. 1y
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REPollock
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The second winner of the tagged book in my #3Kgiveaway is @Brooke_H - congratulations! Shoot me an email with your name/postal addy at ladybee-at-gmail so I can ship your book!

One more coming later this evening, for the final book.

Brooke_H Thank you!!! ❤️ 1y
REPollock @Brooke_H you‘re welcome! 🎉😄 1y
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Notafraidofwords
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Sometimes you read a book and sometimes you live a book. I lived this collection of essays. Chee touches on something special when he is writing about himself and literature. I couldn‘t figure it out until I finished the book. Chee allows the reader their humanity. In a world where worth is tied so closely to capitalism—Chee celebrates humanity and all the ways we lie, love, anguish, & heal. @mauveandrosysky , please read so we can discuss 😁

mauveandrosysky Interesting! I‘ll add it to my list. 1y
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AlizaApp
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Pickpick

Gorgeous essays on writing, money, queer community, and reckoning with one‘s past. I love the way Chee writes and I savored these.

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AlizaApp
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Loving all of Alexander Chee‘s essays, even the ones I have read before.

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Readerann
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Pickpick

I feel like Alexander Chee pours his guts into his writing. I wish I could be his friend.

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REPollock
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To celebrate my Litfluence of 3000, I‘m giving away 3 great books! Which one do you want?

THE BLIND ASSASSIN by Margaret Atwood, HOW TO WRITE AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL by Alexander Chee, or THE ASSOCIATION OF SMALL BOMBS by Karan Mahajan?

Tag me @REPollock & #3Kgiveaway between now and midnight EST on August 19, 2018! Open internationally!

#giveaway @LitsyHappenings #LitsyHappenings #giveawayalert #bookgiveaway @LitsySwaps

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Readerann
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Just 30 pages into this one, but I am enjoying it. Final #24in48 stats: 15 hours 24 minutes. Hope everyone had fun. I sure did! What‘s better than having an excuse to read for a whole weekend?! 😀

Jess7 🎉📚🤗 1y
GypsyKat Great job! 🎉📚⏱ 1y
UwannaPublishme Yay!! Awesome job! 🙌🏻🙌🏻👏🏻👏🏻📚📚🎉🎉 1y
BekahB 🎉🎉🎉 1y
18 likes4 comments
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Readerann
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I have been so busy that I‘m just now getting to my #24in48 stack and I‘m starting in 1 hr 15 min! The top three are a shout-out to Diversity. I also have a few on Kindle and audio which are not pictured. I‘ll just see what I can get through and finish the others over the next few (or several) weeks. Good luck, fellow 24in48ers!

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BrooklynJoe
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Re: Alexander Chee How to write an autobiographical novel

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/27/books/review/alexander-chee-how-to-write-an-a...

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theshrinkette
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I‘ve spent most of my day in this chair reading and napping. Also, Alexander Chee is wrecking me.

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SarahKat84
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“As children we thought Superman was brave to stand in front of a train. That‘s not brave, though. Superman never stood before anything that could destroy him. Peter did”

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nikirtehsuxlol
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Don‘t worry about being original.... Yes, everything‘s been written, but also, the thing you want to write, before you wrote it, was impossible to write.

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bookculture
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Last week was a true honor and amazing experience to have Alexander Chee come and discuss his newest book with us! If you haven‘t looked into these beautiful essays yet, you‘re missing out on something big and important

nikirtehsuxlol I got this book from the library sooooo good 1y
Tyree Wow. You guys should check out “Penitentiary Rich”. It‘s an ebook on amazon! Must read! 13mo
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BrooklynJoe
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Current reading - really enjoying - a recommended book

Jess7 Welcome! 1y
Dr._Who_number10 Welcome to Litsy!!!🎉🎉🎉 1y
CarolynM Welcome to Litsy👋🙂 1y
Eggs Welcome to Litsy 😊👋🏻 1y
11 likes4 comments
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nikirtehsuxlol
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Something old, something new. All are borrowed, the last one‘s blue. #libraryhaul

mrozzz Great choices! 1y
9 likes1 comment
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24in48
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Pickpick

Hey hey, #readers! We‘re hitting your feeds with our first #recommended read for July‘s #24in48 #readathon! This memoir by Alexander Chee will (according to one online review) “leave you breathless, as much for its vulnerability as for its exquisite sentences.” It‘s on our 24in48📚, for sure! ➡️ Are you joining us?! Have you signed up yet? Head over to 24in48.com if not! [Photo description: A left hand holding a red book in front of a brick wall]

Readerann Just ordered it. Looks good! 1y
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BookishShelly
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And I was happy to see that this hold had come in.

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thegreentealibrarian
Pickpick

This felt like such an important read. As a human, as a writer this meant a lot. Alexander Chee is amazing at being practical but also optimistic.

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Louise
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Pickpick

What an excellent book of essays! Alexander Chee is generous and specific in sharing his development as a writer, his influences, the best advice of his teachers, his own inner work, how he conceived and crafted his first novel, and why writing is important. He writes poignantly about significant times in his life. #writers #writersoflitsy #writersonwriting

BibliOphelia Great quote! 1y
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REPollock
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Pickpick

So many good essays in this book, but “Becoming an American Writer” is 🔥🔥🔥

Loved it. And I‘m not a big reader of essay collections, more of an online essay reader, but this? [chef kiss]

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REPollock
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On writing a novel. ❤️

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REPollock
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Been looking forward to this one.

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Linda906
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Started this one on my metro commute this morning. Even though I love fiction, I think I‘m discovering that I enjoy essay collections more than most short story collections. It may be because I don‘t enjoy magical realism as much as most and many modern short story collections have these elements. I‘m REALLY enjoying Mr. Chee‘s essays! Do you have a favorite essay collection? Or can you recommend a short story writer that I may like?

Linda906 @ErickaS_Flyleafunfurled @Notafraidofwords Oooh these look great! Running to put them on hold! 1y
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Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks Hey!! Just wondering if you live in the US?! 1y
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks @Linda906 yay!!! You are my #2000 follower!! Send me your address to loverofbooks75@gmail dot com and I‘ll send you a little happy!!! 🎉🎊👍🏻🙌🏻😊 1y
Linda906 You are so kind! Thank you so much for the wonderful surprise. I‘ll send my address! Looking forward to following your posts and getting to know you.🎉😀 1y
RadicalReader @Linda906 thanks so much for following me I love your bio of all books all the time how I feel when I go to pick up highly recommend books based on Litsy and Goodreads 1y
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Louise

PhD, MFA, self-taught-- the only things you must have to become a writer are the stamina to continue and a wily, cagey heart in the face of extremity, failure, and success. #writersoflitsy

saresmoore Love this! 1y
RadicalReader @Louise what books are you most looking forward to reading this year? 1y
Louise @RadicalReader I'm doing the #ReadingAroundTheWorld challenge and have a long list of books by international authors that I'd like to read. I'm also interested in books on writing by writers and books on art and music by artists and musicians. And classics! So how can I narrow it down? I follow my passions! What about you? 1y
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RadicalReader @Louise definitely looking forward to Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman who wrote the chilling creepy psychological thriller Bird Box and JP Delaney who wrote The Girl Before is releasing The Perfect Wife and Believe Me 1y
Louise @RadicalReader You like chilling, creepy stories? What do you read before bed? The same? If so, you must have a strong constitution! 😆 1y
RadicalReader @Louise I love chilling and creepy the same with movies lol I adore them and am always looking for the next creepy scary book the creepier the better 1y
Louise @RadicalReader Amazing! I can so easily get creeped out that I tend to avoid scary books. But I can imagine that the nervous buzz could be kind of thrilling! 1y
RadicalReader @Louise loving the unexpected is something exceptionally incredible and unique 1y
Louise @RadicalReader It takes courage! ✨✨✨ (edited) 1y
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Louise

Your imagination needs to be broken in, I think, to become anywhere near as weird as the world. #writersoflitsy

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LibrarianRenee
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Wonderful day and wonderful book.

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Erynecki
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Pickpick

Am I a writer? I‘m not sure. I am a published author. The two are certainly related but aren‘t exactly the same thing. I love reading about the art and journey of writing. Chee‘s writing is mellifluous, bare, and honest.
I loved all of Chee‘s book, but am particularly smitten with the last few pages. The words that really spoke to me are about why art endures and the importance of writing stories. I will be thinking about this one for awhile.

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Louise

Mixed feelings were confused feelings, and I didn't feel confused except as to why it was so hard for everyone to understand that I existed. Living this way felt like discovering your shoe was nailed to the floor, but only one of them, so that you paced, always, a circle of possibility, defined by the limited imaginations of others.

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Louise

They lived like people who felt lucky to be alive, and I loved them right away.

TheBookKeepers I enjoyed his other book !! 2y
Louise @TheBookKeepers Good to hear! I've just started this one, and I'm struck by his courage as a writer, as well as his powerful use of language. Looking forward to reading more of his work! 2y
TheBookKeepers Yes! It was a dense read that forced me to slow my reading down a bit to fully absorb, but was absolutely beautiful writing!! 2y
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Louise @TheBookkeepers Added it to my TBR! Thanks for the recommendation! 2y
RadicalReader @Louise best quote of 2018 1y
Louise @RadicalReader Chee's writing is full of gems! 👌 1y
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GeorgeanneD
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Living my best life at Kramerbooks & afterwords. #glutenfree

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sakeriver
Pickpick

What an incredible and incredibly generous thing it is, to write a book, filled to spilling with such immense and obvious genius, and to be able to have that book leave the reader feeling more determined than ever not to give up. To say, so brilliantly: you matter. And to say it well enough that it must be believed. What an amazing gift, this book. I‘m so grateful.

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sakeriver
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Oh my god. Oh my goooooooodddddd.

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bitterbear
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These essays are pretty heart felt... I've only read two but I'm really enjoying it.