Primary Sources Books, an imprint of Wyatt-MacKenzie, 2007. ISBN 978-1-932279-75-7.
Reviewed by Sharon Lippincott
Posted on 09/15/2008
Nonfiction: Creative Life
Kim Pearson's book, Making History: How to remember, record, interpret and share the events of your life, is a research tool that has something for nearly anyone. It is a powerful primer for beginning lifestory writers and much more. The historical information will help any writer add authenticity and zest to fiction as well as memoir. History teachers should love it, and it's just plain fun to read. The book will be a valuable addition to any writer's reference shelf and a fine gift to nudge family members into writing.
I was a bit daunted by its 400 page length, but when I discovered that many of those pages are full of lists of historical data and writing prompts, I was intrigued. I recognized a gold mine of information I can use many ways. As I began to read, the vein proved to be rich, deep, and highly readable.
In the Preface, Pearson explains that when she set out to teach memoir, the local community college insisted that she teach history rather than memoir, because they already had a writing class, and she had a degree in history. She did teach history—writing personal history. I was intrigued by her resourcefulness, and also by her ability to organize the information with the precision of a crackerjack librarian and charm of a master story-teller.
The "pep talk" chapters in Part 1 are concise and to the point. They are highly readable and if you are giving this book as a gift in hopes of motivating a relative to write, these chapters should get their fingers moving. Part 2 is even more concise. In a mere twenty pages Kim covers the basics of how to write memoir vignettes. The book is about defining your place in history, retrieving memories, and getting your story on paper, not about developing writing skills.
Part 3 is the meat of the book. Each chapter includes chronological lists of key events, hit songs, book and movie titles, and other evocative information. Pearson's charmingly written overviews of each brings the data to life. If you finish a chapter without running off to your keyboard, the long list of writing prompts at the end should push you over the edge.
This book is a resource that belongs on the shelf of any serious writer.
Kim Pearson is an author, ghostwriter, teacher and the owner of Primary Sources, a writing service that helps others communicate their stories, histories and ideas. In addition to this book, she has authored three books of fiction, two books of poetry, and a non-fiction work titled You Can Be An Author, Even If You're Not a Writer. Visit her website.
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