Browdy lays out how purposeful memoir, through the technique of “alchemical writing” combining the literal and metaphorical, can activate the “poetic visionary” in anyone, changing how we view and feel about our own history and empowering us in the present. Her “archeological exploration” technique, meanwhile, digs into deeper layers of memory, lineage, and history (including “historical cruelties like the Inquisition, colonization, slavery, misogyny, racism”) to move past whatever attitudes and worldviews of our ancestors no longer suit the present, while preserving what’s still essential. This heady concept is supplemented by clear techniques, examples, and prompts for writers, while Browdy, writing with a warm and inviting tone, makes clear that this practice is open-ended and exploratory.
The bulk of this slim but packed guide is dedicated to what Browdy calls “quests,” eight inspired and inspiring essays and prompts each dedicated to developing a positive quality (clarity, guidance, love, community). Each of these pairs Browdy’s original musings—often thoughts on the achievements of activists, “worldwrights,” and poets like Julia Butterfly Hill, Audre Lorde, and others—with practical, well-crafted “catalysts for writing.” Readers and writers seeking inspiration to better themselves and our world will find much here that resonates.
Takeaway: Big-picture inspiration and practical prompts for seekers eager to better themselves and the world.
Great for fans of: adrienne maree brown’s Pleasure Activism, Natalie Goldberg’s Old Friend from Far Away.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
Purposeful Memoir as A Quest for a Thriving Future has won two 2022 Gold Awards, from the Independent Press Association, and from the Nautilus Books Awards, for books that make the world better.