Since it came out earlier this month, Louise Krug's meta-memoir Louise: Amended has generated some glowing reviews—and some heated comments. Clearly, Louise's story of brain trauma, partial paralysis, and redefining beauty has touched a few nerves. Last week, Buzz Poole talked with Louise about the work: the books that kept her inspired, the perils of reading one's own reviews, and what she's working on now.
How does it feel now that the book is out, articles and reviews are being written, and you are reading passages in public?
It feels weird to have something that is so personal read and discussed by strangers—I feel kind of stripped. Actually, I think it’s more bizarre to have people I do know look at me differently after they’ve read the book. They known much more about my vulnerabilities than I do about theirs. When I wrote most of this I never thought anyone would ever read it, and even toward the end in the revision stages I wasn’t thinking about readers at all. I’d never had to before! I’ve been flagged down in Target parking lots by acquaintances who have read the book and were psyched about it. It’s been sweet.
Some articles have generated quite a number of reader comments. What do you think of those? Do you pay close attention?
While I’m so glad things I’ve written have generated discussions, I don’t read many of the comments because I don’t think it would be good for me. Those kinds of discussion don’t seem to be too productive. I said what I said, and I meant it, and people can say what they want. Beauty and how we’re treated because of it (or lack thereof) is a really hot-button issue, obviously.
How long did it take you to write a first draft of the book?
It took about a year.
Did you always have it in mind to tell your story from different narrative perspectives?
No, I started out writing from just my point of view, but it was really boring and depressing. I had just read a novel with three rotating points of view (Arkansas by John Brandon) and I really liked how it moved the story along. So I tried it first with Claude, then Janet, and so on. It seemed to kind of open up the story to be about more than just what I went through, and it became a story of our family.
Were there other memoirs you read as you worked on Louise: Amended? Or any particular novels?
So many. Slow Motion by Dani Shapiro, Another Bullshit Night In Suck Cityby Nick Flynn, The Adderall Diaries by Stephen Elliott, everything by Lydia Davis and Christine Schutt, Reasons to Live by Amy Hempel, and Natasha, by David Bezmozgis, to name a few.
What are you working on today?
I’ve been writing short stories again, some more fiction-y and some nonfiction; before I wrote Louise: Amended that’s mostly what I did, so it’s been cool to go back to that format. Also, I don’t have a lot of time these days to write, so a short format ups the chances that I’ll finish something.