Today, the surprisingly elastic form of the memoir embraces subjects that include dying, illness, loss, relationships, and self-awareness. Writing to reveal the inner self—the pilgrimage into one’s spiritual and/or religious nature—is a primary calling. Contemporary memoirists are exploring this field with innovative storytelling, rigorous craft, and new styles of confessional authorship. Now, Thomas Larson brings his expertise as a critic, reader, and teacher to the boldly evolving and improvisatory world of spiritual literature.
In his book-length essay Spirituality and the Writer, Larson surveys the literary insights of authors old and new who have shaped religious autobiography and spiritual memoir—from Augustine to Thomas Merton, from Peter Matthiessen to Cheryl Strayed. He holds them to an exacting standard: they must render transcendent experience in the writing itself. Only when the writer’s craft prevails can the fleeting and profound personal truths of the spirit be captured. Like its predecessor, Larson’s The Memoir and the Memoirist,Spirituality and the Writer will find a home in writing classrooms and book groups, and be a resource for students, teachers, and writers who seek guidance with exploring their spiritual lives.