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Can the Truth be Handled? A Conversation in Search of an Answer | Beth Kephart

Beth Kephart


Member Teleseminar September 20, 2013

11 AM PDT   12 PM MDT  1 PM  CDT 2 PM EDT

As the award-winning author of five memoirs and a teacher of memoir at the University of Pennsylvania, Beth Kephart has thought long and hard about the form—what it is, what it isn’t, and why it still matters. In her newly published HANDLING THE TRUTH: ON THE WRITING OF MEMOIR, Kephart reflects on the vulnerability we must bring to our work, the care we must take regarding the lives of others, and the magnifying power of empathy and imagination.

She writes, “Memoir making, the myth goes, is tenderness reserved for the book, intelligence transferred to the page, generosity given over to scene. But it is also, obviously, grand larceny, a form of plagiarism, a brand of stalking, and those who teach memoir have, I think, a moral responsibility to steady the student with terms, to caution her with consequences, to insist that he do it again, better..”

In this one-hour conversation, Linda Joy Myers and Beth Kephart, both memoirists and memoir teachers, will explore the delicate niches of a genre that, well done, both preserves and yields.

 Among the topics:

  • What is memoir absolutely not?
  • What is memoir at its best?
  • How does reading memoir help hone a writer’s expectations—and build her capabilities?
  • Why does love matter, when writing memoir?
  • What difference does it make if memoirs freeze people in time?
  • Is there, in the end, a systematic way to think about crafting a life story?


Beth Kephart teaches memoir at the University of Pennsylvania and is the author of sixteen books, including five memoirs. HANDLING THE TRUTH: ON THE WRITING OF MEMOIR (Gotham) has received starred reviews and was recently featured as a top five writing book in O Magazine. Kephart’s essays on memoir have appeared or will soon appear in Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post, Marion Roach Blog, Creative Nonfiction, Philadelphia Inquirer, Brevity Magazine, Pennsylvania Gazette, Speakeasy, and The Millions. She blogs daily at



  1. Mary Donnelly Baranski says:

    My concern about writing my memoir is that, even if passages are handled delicately, loved ones will be offended. If I’m going to “whitewash,” I may as well not write, and that is not a satisfactory solution.

    • Carol Graham says:

      I completely relate to you. I struggled with that dilemma for 10 years but then had to bite the bullet, hold my head up high and realize that the help and encouragement my memoir would bring hopeless, hurting women was far greater than my pride and concerns. See my blog about this and other writing issues

      Good luck and email me any time.

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