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Topic of the Week: Contemporary Inspirational Literature October 4, 2009

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in inspirational memoir, memoir, religion and mysticism.
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From Publishers Weekly
Ryan’s winsome memoir and writing debut traces her desperate search for a man—specifically a husband—and for a spirituality that works for her. En route, her heart is broken in every possible way: her college fiancé cheats on her; her first husband abuses her; and she dates a succession of alternately nice and creepy noncommittal guys. She attempts to talk herself out of her desire for marriage, hoping that crystals, feng shui and astrology will provide the guidance she needs to sort out the mess of her life. When she ends up unemployed and broke in Boston, she channel surfs across a Joyce Meyer program one afternoon and is shocked to hear that the Bible promises good things. She visits an evangelical church, joins a small group and ever so tentatively explores the idea of Jesus, eventually giving him her broken life and asking him to fix it. God promises her a husband and delivers (with a tinge of prosperity gospel that will appeal to Meyer fans), but not without cost. In spite of her desperation and a string of horrible choices, Ryan is eminently likable and vulnerable, and her sharp writing will appeal to faithful and irreverent readers alike. (Apr. 3

Contemporary Inspirational Literature

Trish Ryan

Trish Ryan

Inspirational literature is no longer confined to Sunday School readers or religious texts. Strolling through a bookstore you’ll see shelves dedicated to literature of many faiths, including fiction and memoir. Some authors reach beyond the confines of their personal religion with smart, humorous or controversial topics that appeal to people outside the religious platform. This week in LitChat we’ll discuss what makes good inspirational literature–whether Persian, Kabbala, Hindu, Buddhist or other mystical or new age topics.

Trish Ryan is one of those authors whose memoir may be Christian in conclusion, but speaks to people of many faiths. The story of her search for God and the perfect man, He Love Me, He Loves Me Not (Faith Works/Hatchette), has been lauded critics for its honest self-examination and witty commentary on her own life. Publishers Weekly said this about He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not:

HeLoveMe-RyanRyan’s winsome memoir and writing debut traces her desperate search for a man—specifically a husband—and for a spirituality that works for her. En route, her heart is broken in every possible way: her college fiancé cheats on her; her first husband abuses her; and she dates a succession of alternately nice and creepy noncommittal guys. She attempts to talk herself out of her desire for marriage, hoping that crystals, feng shui and astrology will provide the guidance she needs to sort out the mess of her life. When she ends up unemployed and broke in Boston, she channel surfs across a Joyce Meyer program one afternoon and is shocked to hear that the Bible promises good things. She visits an evangelical church, joins a small group and ever so tentatively explores the idea of Jesus, eventually giving him her broken life and asking him to fix it. God promises her a husband and delivers (with a tinge of prosperity gospel that will appeal to Meyer fans), but not without cost. In spite of her desperation and a string of horrible choices, Ryan is eminently likable and vulnerable, and her sharp writing will appeal to faithful and irreverent readers alike.

Trish lives in Ithaca, New York, with her husband Steve, and their genetically improbable mixed-breed dog. She just completed a follow-up to He Love Me, He Loves Me Not.

Follow Trish on Twitter at @Trishryan

Topic of the Week: The Fine Line Between Fact and Fiction July 27, 2009

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in creative non-fiction, memoir, non-fiction, travel essays.
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No matter what publishing pundits say, memoirs and creative non-fiction are still selling. You’d think that after James Frey’s memoir, A Million Little Pieces, was exposed as brilliant fiction in memoir covers, publishing professionals would be more scrupulous in signing and publishing memoirs. Not so. Along came Misha Defonseca’s, Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years, followed by Love and Consequences by Margaret B. Jones, both of which have been outed as fakes. Perhaps the most heartbreaking memoir fraud of late was Angel at the Fence by Herman Rosenblat, the Halocaust love story everyone wanted to believe about the girl who threw apples over the concentration camp fence and later married the author.

Gary Buslik with his favorite Tweeter

Gary Buslik with his favorite Tweeter

Gary Buslik says he doesn’t have the faintest idea how to make an honest living. He wrote for travel magazines for a while, and when he discovered that by tossing around insincere promises, he could get hotels and restaurants to give him free rooms, meals, and drinks to write something nice about them, and, what’s more, the IRS would let him deduct lots of goofy expenses by declaring himself a freelance writer, he was able to forge a virtually useless profession into a rewarding lifestyle.

These days Gary writes novels, short stories, and essays and, in case the government should ask any questions, teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Illinois at Chicago—which isn’t quite an honest living, but you work with what you have.

A Rotten Person CoverHis work has appeared in many literary and commercial magazines and anthologies and has been nominated several times for Pushcart Prizes. His novel The Missionary’s Position is a favorite of the Caribbean tourist crowd, and his latest book, A Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean (Travelers’ Tales 2008), won Benjamin Franklin and Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Awards for travel writing.

Gary windsurfs and plays softball. He wants his gravestone to read, HERE LIES GARY BUSLIK. NOW, THANK GOD, HE NEVER HAS TO PLAY GOLF.

Follow Gary at @rottenperson.