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Selected for the March 2010 Indie Next List!

The Journal Keeper, A Memoir
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Essayist Phyllis Theroux has long captivated readers with her pitch-perfect rendering of the inner lives of American women. Now she has written The Journal Keeper a memoir of six years in her anything but uneventful life.

Theroux is a natural story teller. She slips her arm companionably into yours, like an old friend going for a stroll. But her stride is long, her eye sharp, and she swings easily between subjects that occupy most people who are mid-way through their lives: love, loneliness, children, growing old, financial worries, spiritual growth, and – in Theroux’s case – watching her remarkable mother prepare for death.

Thirty years ago, Theroux began to keep a journal when she was in the middle of a painful divorce and in deep distress. Over time, it evolved into something quite different – a kind of daily “light box” that she uses to illuminate her path. But not until Theroux sat down to edit her journals for publication did she realize, in her words, “that a hand much larger and more knowing than my own was guiding my life and pen across the page.”

She makes a good case for this being true for us all.

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Retreat: San Rafael, CA

June 2-5, 2011

The Art of Journal Keeping: Creating Your Own Inspiration, One Day at a Time
Santa Sabina Center

Join writer Phyllis Theroux, whose recent memoir illustrates how a well-kept journal can be a powerful source of illumination for yourself and others.

Many people begin journaling but find it difficult to sustain. Phyllis offers a perspective to the art of journal keeping that is as easy as reaching up and replacing the bulb in the lamp above one’s head. Over the days we are together, she will help us explore that art, share our daily reflections, and come closer to seeing how our personal journal can be both a lantern and a legacy.

Phyllis Theroux is the author of seven books, including The Journal Keeper, Giovanni’s Light, The Book of Eulogies and California and Other States of Grace. She is the founder of Nightwriters  and The Writer’s Well
Fee: $400
For more information, please visit the Santa Sabina Center website.

INTERVIEW: Phyllis Theroux On Writing A Journal From The Heart

Pamela Burke of “The Women’s Eye” website tracked Phyllis down after reading The Journal Keeper.  She writes:

“Phyllis Theroux is a rare writer’s writer, a title reserved for those special people who are revered by their peers.   She’s an essayist, author , teacher, and natural story-teller who goes right to the heart of everything she writes.  Her new book, The Journal Keeper, is a personal memoir penned during six years of her life.  She takes on all of life’s ups and downs in such a relatable and introspective way that the book becomes your friend. 

I was fortunate enough to meet Phyllis at Book Passage, a bookstore in Marin County, California.  She was speaking to a group about the wonder of the journal–”a flashlight” as she called it. 

I’m a big believer in journals and found Phyllis’ so engaging that I had to track her down to learn more about her genius for words and so many other things.  She answered the phone at her “Writer’s Cottage” in Ashland, Virginia.”

Read the full interview on The Women’s Eye.

ARTICLE: Lives of Others: Phyllis Theroux

Writer and traveler Pia Chatterjee writes of her experience in a writing seminar conducted by Phyllis recently in San Francisco.  Chatterjee writes, ”Meeting Phyllis was one of those sudden, serendipitous things. Writing, after the exhausting edits to novel number 1, had begun to feel not like a delicious, treasured adventure but another dead weight on my to- do list, something to be checked off, not savored. I needed new energy, new voices. I also needed to pin down the voice of my new character – and wanted insights into writing in first person.

And, that evening, Phyllis Theroux offered just such a class. I had previously read her writing and expected she would be knowledgeable and wise and would have much-needed guidance for me. But I had not expected Phyllis herself.”

Read the full article online at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Star Tribune Review

Theroux’s ‘The Journal Keeper’ celebrates the examined life
Memoir is an ode to the journal at its best – as literary and psychological helpmate, as a “flashlight” for self-discovery and as “a place to save small places of beauty.”
by Pamela Miller

I ran across this book in an unusual way. Near the end of a packed flight to Atlanta, my seatmate, a lovely woman in her 60s, and I got to talking about newspapers (my living) and books (hers). As we deplaned, I expressed regret that we hadn’t started chatting earlier. As if to provide her half of that lost conversation, she pulled a book — her brand new book — out of her purse and pressed it on me as a gift.

She was Phyllis Theroux, a writer and teacher from Ashland, Va., and the book was “The Journal Keeper: A Memoir” (Atlantic Monthly Press, 281 pages, $24). When I finished reading it, I had marked more than 20 passages that I wanted to return to, or even copy out into my own journal. Read More