Old Friend from Far Away

I love listening to people tell stories about their lives, and I love reading memoirs, so when I saw Old Friend From Far Away in the bookstore recently, I decided it was a perfect book for me to read for Joy’s Non-Fiction Five Reading Challenge. You don’t just sit down and read this book cover to cover, however. It’s a journey of sorts, an action book — you have to do things — so it’s a book I’ll be “reading” for a long time. And I’m enjoying it very much!

This book is designed not only for you to read but to drench you in the writing process and in your life of memory.

Natalie Goldberg is a wonderful writing teacher, as many people discovered with her publication 20 years ago of Writing Down the Bones. This one focuses on writing memoirs, and it is full of ideas, examples, and writing prompts that usually start with the phrase “Go. Ten minutes.” It really is a complete writing workshop in a book, but it’s not boring, didactic (despite the “commands”) or overbearing. It is a gifted writer and teacher sharing her knowledge and her understanding of how writing happens and why it is important, and I found it quite fascinating and very motivational. Highly recommended if you are interested in writing and telling the stories of your own life!

7 thoughts on “Old Friend from Far Away

  1. ____Maggie

    That’s how my booktalks started! I was reading great books, books my patrons had to wait to hear about, and such a small audience! I figured if I wrote down my thoughts and shared them as an article for the paper I could double the amount of people that would hear about the books and in a faster manner. I wouldn’t have to wait until some poor chap sidled into the library doors. I do my thing and now they come in and ask for the book I wrote about last week, or two months ago, or yesterday! It is very satisfying! Thanks for sharing! 🙂


  2. Bellezza

    The front of cover is very compelling to me. I don’t normally choose stories, because they end so abruptly, but I do appreciate your review of a book which is totally new to me.


  3. Gentle Reader

    I’ve loved Natalie Goldberg since reading Writing Down the Bones about 15 years ago. I’ll have to get this one, too–I love her writing exercises and think they’re good for anyone who wants to contemplate their life, not just for writers.


  4. Robin

    Maggie, I love her “conversations” with me in this book, so I can completely understand how your booktalks got started!

    Bellezza, this is a very interesting book — not so much stories as little discussions that get you thinking about your own life experiences…quite nicely done.

    Gentle Reader, you used the perfect phrase in describing Goldberg’s work: “good for anyone who wants to contemplate their life…” It’s a really interesting process she takes you through in this book.


  5. caitlin

    As I looked back over some of these earlier posts I found this one about Natalie Goldberg. I read Writing Down The Bones years ago, as well as another book of hers. I may just have a look at Old Friend From Far Away. Thanks for sharing the little YouTube film!
    I realize you posted this a while ago, but I thought I’d look a little futher back in your archives, because I have enjoyed reading your blog these past few weeks. I’ll probably write more comments on some more June/July entries.


  6. Robin

    Thanks, Caitlin. I’m delighted you are looking back through the archives and reading some older reviews. How nice! I really enjoyed this book and it renewed my appreciation for Natalie Goldberg. I know you’d enjoy it — I liked it even more than Writing Down the Bones.



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