Cult fiction star and MacArthur genius George Saunders (Lincoln in the Bardo, Tenth of December, Pastoralia) co-teaches a reading-and-writing Salon with best-selling memoirist Mary Karr (The Liars’ Club, Lit, and The Art of Memoir). In conversations, in-class writing exercises, and small group workshops, George and Mary will help students crowbar open those stories they’ve longed to get down on paper, and to hone and shape a voice for long after said students leave the island. Our two acclaimed authors and gifted teachers will bring writing examples and give hands-on lessons in shaping pages from sprawling messes into more economic forms. Saunders and Karr have taught together at Syracuse University’s internationally known MFA program for over twenty years. Since actually writing can suck so bad, they feel the time on Patmos should be a hoot.
Mary Karr and George Saunders are modern reinventors of the memoir and the short story, of the poem and the novel. Together they have ventured and written deeply into the self and the tales of others, helping us all live more fully examined lives through their singular art and distinct voices of empathic storytelling.
“The artist’s job, I think, is to be a conduit for mystery.” George Saunders
George and Mary will offer engaging insight, good humor and life journey perspective into the art and craft of the personal essay, memoir and fiction. The conversations, hands-on writing and (voluntary) sharing will question and explore who we are as writers, how we can tap into a voice beneath one's "natural" voice, and what it feels like to write a compelling, escalating, funny, mutated piece of prose.
Whether you’re an accomplished or aspiring writer, or just someone with a love for the storytelling gifts of Mary and George, we hope this dream Salon will help you to sharpen your craft and art, while mining your life story and learning about the lives of others for deeper truths.
“What would you write if you weren’t afraid?” Mary Karr
The stunning landscape of Patmos, the isle of Revelation, is an ideal setting for this Salon. There will be plenty of time to swim in the sea, get a massage, hang at a lovely beachside café, take a hike, connect with kindred spirits and explore the beguiling splendors of the island.
Join us to spark your creative juices, deepen your understanding and approach to writing and story, soak up lively reflection and intellectually vibrant conversation ... and dare to dance by the sea!
Limited to 50 participants.
Mary Karr  is the author of three award-winning, bestselling memoirs: The Liars’ Club (1995), Cherry (2000), and Lit (2009). She most recently wrote The Art of Memoir (2015), which Cheryl Strayed calls "the definitive book on reading and writing memoir for years to come." She is The Peck Professor of Literature at Syracuse University, having taught memoir writing for 30 years. A Guggenheim Fellow in poetry, Karr has won Pushcart Prizes for both verse and essays and has published four celebrated volumes of poetry: Abacus (1987), The Devil’s Tour (1993), Viper Rum (1998), and Sinner’s Welcome (2006). She has received multiple grants including the Whiting Writer’s Award, PEN’s Martha Albrand Award, and Radcliffe’s Bunting Fellowship. Her newest poetry collection, Tropic of Squalor, comes out from Harper Collins in 2018.
George Saunders — a 2006 MacArthur Fellow — is the author of Tenth of December,
a finalist for the National Book Award, and the winner of the inaugural Folio Prize (for the best work of fiction in English) and the Story Prize (best short story collection).
His recent novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, a #1 New York Times Bestseller, has been short-listed for the Man-Booker Prize. His work includes the short-story collections "CivilWarLand in Bad Decline" (a finalist for the 1996 PEN/Hemingway Award), “Pastoralia,” “In Persuasion Nation” (a finalist for the Story Prize), and “Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness.” Saunders has won prizes for his best-selling children’s book, The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, and for a book of essays entitled The Braindead Megaphone. He teaches at Syracuse University.