Voice Lessons is a book about writing from a woman with a remarkable story to tell and an utterly distinctive voice in which to tell it. Nancy Mairs’s essays have been called “triumphs… of will, style, candor, thought and even form” (Los Angeles Times). She has won acclaim for her autobiographical writing on themes from living with depression to renewing a marriage, from sex to religion. In Voice Lessons, Mairs’s subjects are literary, but as always her approach is personal, revealing, and inspiring. Mairs first shares her sharply drawn story on how “finding a voice” as an essayist transformed her life when she was a graduate student, wife, and mother in her late thirties. In a tribute to the liberating power of literature and feminist ideas, she shows how the words of other writers made possible a new career, a new life in difficult times. Voice Lessons goes on to explore other women’s writing and to outline a singular kind of literary life. Always grounding her writing in personal experience, always making ideas concrete, Mairs gives us essays on writing and the body, the challenges of autobiography, the revelatory power of Virginia Woolf and Alice Walker, the literature of personal disaster, and the art of dealing with rejection. Articulate, witty, incisive, and inspirational, Voice Lessons is a book for writers and aspiring writers, and for everyone who loves women’s writing.
“Mairs is an iconoclastic thinker; hers is an unusually original book and a great pleasure to read.” —Publishers Weekly
“This is a provocative, honest, and revealing portrayal of how one writer deals with rejection and who is determined to fully despite multiple sclerosis.” —Library Journal
“A small miracle of honesty mediated by dignity and humor.” —Francine Prose, New York Newsday
” [A] rich and wise collection about becoming a writer (and a woman)…grounded in a wry and candid account of a life that would have most others hanging on the ropes…hers is a singular voice we can all attend to.” —Faye Moskowitz, Washington Post Book World
“It is fascinating to watch Nancy Mairs grappling with theoretical issues in a way that makes them personal and immediate. As in her previous work, Mairs shows the courage and tenacity and honesty of a true personal essayist.” —Philip Lopate, author of Two Marriages