Adrienne Brodeur

This week’s guest wrestled with her memoir for forty years, and wrote it in two. In this generous interview, Adrienne Brodeur shares about the many variations this book took over the years, about finding her north star in Vivian Gornick’s words, “For the drama to deepen, we must see the loneliness of the monster and the cunning of the innocent,” and how, by following this advice, her mother became more nuanced and sympathetic. This is an honest and heartfelt conversation about the power of truth and the emotional complexity of coming clean on the page.


Adrienne Brodeur began her career in publishing as the cofounder, with filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, of the National Magazine Award–winning Zoetrope: All-Story. She has worked as a book editor and is currently the executive director of Aspen Words. Her most recent book is WILD GAME: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me, which the NYT called “Exquisite and harrowing. . . . gorgeously written and deeply insightful”. She splits her time between Cambridge and Cape Cod with her husband and children.

The Takeaway:

We’re intrigued by Mary Karr’s question, “What would you write if you weren’t afraid?” It’s easy to think we’re not afraid of something or to brush over our fear and deny it, but I think the more we can delve into our fears on the page, the more meaningful our writing will be. Make this into a morning pages type exercise, pen on paper for two pages just writing about things you’re afraid of. Being afraid doesn’t have to be a traumatic event. It can be your fear of writing, or fear of making a change in your life. A fear of conflict. Some writers resist making bad things happen to their characters, but that’s why we engage in stories—to see how another navigates all of the obstacles, horrific or mundane, in their lives.

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