Sunday, April 21, 2013

Katharine Weber

Katharine Weber’s novels include Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear, The Music Lesson, The Little Women, Triangle, and True Confections.

From a Q & A about her memoir, The Memory Of All That: George Gershwin, Kay Swift, and My Family's Legacy of Infidelities, with Caroline Leavitt:

[The Memory Of All That] defies labeling--though it's the story of your family, it's also the story of so many other things, so you can't really call it a traditional memoir. Can you talk about how you stretched and changed the boundaries of the genre?

The book really isn't a traditional memoir, is it? It is not my story in any complete or historical sense. It is my sensibility and my awareness of this vast cast of characters in my family, starting with my mother and father, but it is certainly not the story of my life in a traditional sense. At the same time, even though there is a great deal you won't learn about me from this book, in some essential ways, it really is very intimate and personal. These are my people, and these are my experiences of my people, and here is more of their story which I have researched in the writing of the book. So in a certain sense, it is a researched group biography hybridized with a very personal memoir strategy. Is that stretching and changing the boundaries of the genre? I had no idea I was writing the book this way when I set out to do it. Though I did want to use my father's enormous FBI file as an organizing element with the contrast between my memories of childhood in contrast to the FBI 's way of telling the same story about my family. I thought the book would be much more about the ways we tell our stories.

How would you say writing this book changed you? Did anything surprise you? Did you have something in mind and then the book took on a life of its own?

I do think writing this book changed me, and in some unexpected ways. For one thing, it really expanded my capabilities as a writer in some practical ways. I knew how to write a novel, or at lest, after five novels I knew how to teach myself how to write each of those novels and will know how to teach myself to write the next novel, and the next. But I didn't know how to write a book like this, a book based entirely on actual people and actual events, an amalgamation of what I experienced and remembered about them, what I knew about them, and what I discovered as I researched these many very different family members and their stories. I kept getting deep into the material and losing my perspective, feeling that every tiny fact and discovery had equal value and weight for the story, which wasn't the case.

If I had been writing fiction, I would have...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Katharine Weber's website.

The Page 99 Test: Triangle.

Writers Read: Katharine Weber.

The Page 69 Test: True Confections.

The Page 99 Test: The Memory of All That.

--Marshal Zeringue