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Hey, How'd You Turn Your Personal Essay Into A Memoir, Walter Kirn?

This writer took the story of his educational experience from Atlantic article to compelling memoir

- October 27, 2009
In 2005, The Atlantic published an essay by Walter Kirn titled "Lost in the Meritocracy." The story about Kirn's experiences in education both before and during his time at Princeton elicited a flood of reader response from people who identified with both the personal and structural problems that Kirn identified. This year saw the publication of Kirn's memoir, Lost in the Meritocracy: The Undereducation of an Overachiever, a project which spurred from the ideas in his initial essay.

Regardless of how he spent his time at Princeton, since graduation Kirn has established a two-tiered career as a journalist and a fiction writer. Kirn has contributed to The New York Times 'Book Review,' Time, GQ, Esquire, New York and many other publications. He's also written five novels and one collection of short stories including Up in the Air, which will be released as a film this Christmas starring George Clooney. Kirn spoke with us about writing a memoir, getting his personality reviewed, and the constant struggles of a freelance writer....

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