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Walking and Talking with Myself: Alden Jones and Cheryl Strayed on Memoir Writing

Free

Online EVENT

Wednesday, 7:30 pm EDT September 9, 2020

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The Wanting Was a Wilderness by Alden Jones is a surprisingly moving, intertextual blend of criticism and personal memoir that highlights the importance of contemporary literary analysis.

In her “bibliomemoir”, Jones takes an academic lens to Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling hit Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Trail. How did the story of a young woman’s long walk in the woods resonate with millions of people? What can other memoirists learn from the stylistic and structural elements in Wild? As she dug into the material, Jones’s own life turned upside down and she found herself writing her own wilderness story alongside her analysis of Strayed’s.

Cheryl Strayed and Alden Jones will discuss the art of memoir writing and why reading about the lives of others can bring our own personal struggles into focus.

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In Conversation

  • Alden Jones c. Adrianne Mathiowetz

    Alden Jones

    Alden Jones

    Alden Jones was born in New York, raised in New Jersey, and educated at Brown University, New York University, and the Bennington Writing Seminars. Her critical memoir, The Wanting Was a Wilderness, is forthcoming in August 2020. Her first book, The Blind Masseuse: A Traveler’s Memoir from Costa Rica to Cambodia, was named a Top Ten Travel Book by Publishers Weekly and the Huffington Post, won the Independent Publishers Book Award in Travel Essays and was longlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award. Her story collection, Unaccompanied Minors, won the New American Fiction Prize, the Lascaux Book Prize, and an Independent Publisher Book Award in Short Fiction, and was a finalist for the Edmund White Award in Debut Fiction and a Lambda Literary Award.

    Alden’s essays and stories have appeared in New York magazine, the Cut, Psychology Today, Agni, the Rumpus, Prairie Schooner, Gulf Coast, Post Road, and the Iowa Review, and anthologized in the Best American Travel Writing. She is the cofounder, with Tim Weed, of the Cuba Writers Program, bringing writers to Cuba for an 8-day program every spring. She teaches creative writing and cultural studies at Emerson College in Boston and is a core faculty member of the Newport MFA program at Salve Regina University.

    Photo courtesy of Adrianne Mathiowetz.

  • Cheryl Strayed c. Graeme Mitchell for the New York Times

    Cheryl Strayed

    Cheryl Strayed

    Cheryl Strayed is the author of the #1 New York Times best seller Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, which was the first selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 and became an Oscar-nominated film starring Reese Witherspoon; Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, a national best seller now the basis of the WBUR podcast Dear Sugar Radio, co-hosted with Steve Almond; and Torch, her debut novel. Her books have been translated into forty languages, and her essays and other writings have appeared in numerous publications.