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Beth Kaplan: On Coming-of-Age Memoirs

The Beatles

If there is one single problem with 49th Shelf's Canadian focus, it's that it really does restrict our opportunities to talk about the Beatles. Thankfully, Beth Kaplan's fun and absorbing memoir, All My Loving: Coming of Age With Paul McCartney in Paris, has come along to provide just such an occasion. In this special guest list for 49th Shelf, Kaplan tells us a little bit about her book, and recommends other great coming-of-age memoirs to sit alongside it. 

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As a memoir writer and long-time teacher of memoir writing, I tend to read, guess what, almost exclusively non-fiction: personal essays, biography, and, of course, memoir.

Recently, because of the publication of my own '60s memoir, All My Loving: Coming of Age with Paul McCartney in Paris, I’ve been particularly interested in coming-of-age stories, which focus on the adolescent years, that difficult stretch between childhood and adulthood. Of the many I’ve read, here are a few of my favourite Canadian coming-of-age sagas, including—if I may—my own.

Many of these were published some years ago. They are not what’s called “misery memoirs” about extreme situations or terrible abuse; even Ernest Hillen gets through his horrible ordeal intact. Though honest and clear-eyed, they’re written with go …

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