Mythmaking: Self-Discovery and the Timeless Art of Memoir

Weaving wisdom from mythology and psychology in Mythmaking, Maureen Murdock (The Heroine's Journey) eloquently leads readers through explorations of their stories and shows how memoir can heal both writers and readers. The book's first part begins with a strong analysis of mythology's application to contemporary lives and focuses on key questions that often inspire writers to wrestle with their memories: "Who Am I?"; "Who Are My People?"; "What Is My Journey?"; and "What Is My Purpose?" The second part adds archetypal themes to these key questions in chapters titled "Wounding and the Body"; "Home and Homecoming"; "Exile and Belonging"; "Loss"; and "Spirituality." Each chapter ends with two elements: "Crafting Your Memoir" summarizes key points with an eye toward practical writing advice, and "Writing Prompts" asks questions readers can use to examine their lives through writing.

Murdock's spare writing style effectively makes space for personal engagement. The many examples she provides from ancient myth and from memoirists published and unpublished include work by several students from her memoir-writing classes. Greek mythology dominates, but Murdock is expansive in her view of mythology and incorporates biblical and Hindu mythology as well. Citations from memoirists of a wide variety of backgrounds enhances readers' abilities to see the application of each idea to their own lives and how to tell their stories. Though geared to readers who plan to write and publish their memoirs, Mythmaking will also appeal to those who want to understand the stories they tell about themselves. --Dainy Bernstein, postdoc in children's literature, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

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