Book Review: Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir (Natalie Goldberg)

Via Todd Mayville
on Apr 26, 2009
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Natalie Goldberg is probably best known for her book, Writing Down the Bones; Old Friend from Far Away is likely to take its place right beside that classic in books about writing. 

Old Friend from Far Away is an outstanding book for anyone considering writing their own memoir or for anyone teaching others how to write a memoir. Filled with ten minute exercises to stimulate the memory and thus writing, Goldberg is able to really connect with her audience to help them rediscover the meanings behind their memories.  She combines these exercises with meditations and quick “tests” to help break through locks and blocks and to encourage creativity and reflection.  Goldberg’s style of teaching makes writing personal rather than a linear, step by step process; she encourages her reader to approach writing “sideways,” allowing inspiration to guide the process rather than make it a one-size-fits all experience.  Using examples of and from writers such as Allen Ginsberg and Jimmy Santiago Baca, Old Friend from Far Away is a book that writers and teachers of writing can and will not only appreciate but use.

From Free Press and available from your local, independent bookstore.  (Tell them you saw it on Elephant Journal!)



About Todd Mayville

Todd is a single dad of four diverse and lively kids, and is an English teacher and climbing team coach at a local public high school. A rock climber, cyclist and avid reader, Todd also practices yoga and meditation as often as he possibly can, which helps him stay at least a little centered and sane.


2 Responses to “Book Review: Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir (Natalie Goldberg)”

  1. Heather says:

    Love this book and have been using it with my grandmother—we've both been doing one exercise each week and sending our writing to each other. Keeps me writing and is a wonderful way to learn more about my grandmother and connect with her across the country.

    p.s. Waylon's interview with Natalie last spring (not sure if you linked to it):

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