Entries by Mary Maddox

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An unforgettable story

Snjezana Marinkovic’s powerful memoir Born in Sarajevo tells two stories: (1) how the beautiful and venerable European city is destroyed by war and ethnic cleansing and (2) how the author loses her home, sees her friends killed or lost to her, and has her family torn apart in the conflict. Integrating the two narratives is […]

A picture in a thousand words (or less)

I’ve almost finished a novel titled Darkroom about a woman who tries to find out what happened to her missing friend. This rainy day would be ideal for writing toward the final page, but Final Exam week looms with a pile of research papers that must be graded. So instead I’m stealing a few minutes […]

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Finding another way

In her novel The Wife, Meg Wolitzer tells the story of a talented writer who sacrifices her own career to marry a man who becomes a famous novelist. Or rather, Wolitzer lets Joan tell her own story, beginning with her decision to leave her husband, a narcissistic philanderer, as the two of them are flying […]

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Talion recovered

The pivotal moment came during the alumni book signing at my college reunion last fall. I attended Knox College, a private liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois. Knox boasts one of the finest undergraduate creative writing programs in the country, a program just beginning while I was a student there. But graduates from Knox go […]

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A record of what never happened

My brother was born fourteen months after me, and we played together all the time. We invented characters and acted out stories, making up the plots as we went. We kept our fantasies going for weeks at a time. I think our make-believe began when I was six and Steve was five, during the time our […]

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Gotta have that try

I have a friend with amazing talent who is ready to stop writing. Her reasons are complex and personal — as reasons for life-changing decisions generally are — but at their heart is despair. Though she has published numerous stories, she cannot find an agent to represent her, and without an agent she has no access to […]

Don’t blame me

Christian psychoanalyst M. Scott Peck has participated in exorcisms and seen the devil. He saves this revelation until near the end of his book People of the Lie: Hope for Healing Human Evil. Otherwise I might have stopped reading. Folk who claim to have seen the devil lose a certain amount of credibility with me. […]

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The Sociopath Next Door

During my research of serial killers I snatched up the book The Sociopath Next Door, figuring it was perfect for my purpose. I would learn all about that guy whose neighbors shake their heads in disbelief after he’s arrested for torturing and killing prostitutes. “He was so quiet,” they say. “The last person you would […]

Joe Rampant in Arcola

I’ve been so busy with Occasional Writers: Bringing the Past Forward —an anthology of essays and poems by the Past/Forward memoir group and the latest title from Cantraip Press—that my other creative endeavors have fallen by the wayside. Hopefully I’ll have time for my own writing once Occasional Writers comes out next month. Meanwhile I […]

Wired

This summer I was looking around for something to watch after finishing season one of The Killing and found the HBO crime drama The Wire. I generally buy TV shows either on DVD or as a video download. I could save a lot of money by watching them when they aired, but I can’t take […]

I’m in Business!

Back in May, I filled out a form and mailed it along with a check to the Illinois Secretary of State. A few weeks later I received a form letter announcing that I now officially own a corporation, Cantraip Press, Ltd, and wishing me success in my new venture. August has come, and I still […]

Have You Hugged Your Driller Today?

A friend who is an accomplished memoir writer suggested I write about my parents, whose complicated, ambivalent, and sometimes violent relationship went on for decades after they divorced. One might see my brother and me as victims of their parenting. They often became too tied up in their conflict to notice what it was doing […]