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"Letting Go of What We Should Have Had." Review of Adam Phillips's On Giving Up. The Rumpus. June 18, 2024.

"The Essay--An Unprescribable Form." Review of The Edinburgh Companion to the Essay. La Piccioletta Barca. June 15, 2024.

"The Circling Narrative." Review of Daniel Mendelsohn's Three Rings: A Tale of Exile, Narrative, and Fate. River Teeth. May 10, 2024.

"The Pete Wilson Legacy in 30 Pieces." Cover Story. San Diego Reader. May 8, 2024.

"Paraphrase, or Writer With Child." Essay. Assay. April 1, 2024.

"Mine Ears Have Heard the Glory." Essay. The Ilford Review. March 22, 2024.


Spirituality and the Writer: A Personal Inquiry Swallow Press / Read an Excerpt

The Memoir & the Memoirist: Still Selling in its Sixteenth Year.


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Heart Book

The Sanctuary of Illness: A Memoir of Heart Disease

2014 Indiefab Finalist: Autobiography & Memoir

We all know someone who has suffered a heart attack, but how often do we learn intimate details that might help us deal with coronary artery disease before it strikes? In The Sanctuary of Illness, Thomas Larson tells a powerful and personal story of what happens when our arteries fail us. He narrates the dramatic tale of his three heart attacks in five years. Slowly waking up to the genetic legacy and dangerous diet of his past, he discovers a path to healing that his partner, Suzanna, insists he—and she—put into action. Told with urgency and sensitivity, The Sanctuary of Illness reminds us that heart disease seldom affects just one heart.




“Written in the tradition of Sherwin Nuland and Anatole Broyard, Thomas Larson’s The Sanctuary of Illness is both a meditation on mortality and a call to arms in the face of the inevitable. By turns defiant, humorous, earthy, and literary, the work is a felicitous mix of memoir and reporting: the heart as a pulsing source of both truth and fact.”

     —Madeleine Blais, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

“Thomas Larson has written a sumptuous and insightful personal chronicling of the pathway into and away from coronary artery disease.”

     —Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease

“In the realm of fear and suffering and grief there must be poetry, and Larson finds it again and again in this memoir. His clarity, his humility, and his grace are profoundly moving.”

     —Richard Hoffman, Half the House

“This powerful book conveys one man’s struggle fighting heart disease. Thomas Larson describes multiple heart attacks, interventions, and his decision to try to change his fate with a plant-based diet. His example and dramatic rebound are truly inspiring.”

     —Neal Barnard, M.D.

Writing the Spiritual Memoir

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The noted memoirist, critic, and teacher Thomas Larson guides participants in a short (two-hour) or long (all-day or weekend) workshop, which initiates and refines the craft of writing spiritually.

Based on his 2019 book, Spirituality and the Writer, Larson presents this evolving form with roots in classic literature and with a wealth of expressions in contemporary writing. The first classic/contemporary distinction is between religious autobiography and spiritual memoir. Context is key.

Religious autobiography focuses on a set of text-based beliefs and religious traditions that manifest themselves in an individual’s life either from the cradle or via conversion. Spiritual memoir, on the other hand, elicits a wide array of contexts—numinous experiences with nature, art, family, relationships, and the self. The context may involve a New Age philosophy or an Eastern practice and typically reflects an inner quest to find a deeper purpose in life, one that’s been suddenly activated or long lost.

In some ways, the writing itself is the journey: an author writes to engage the spirit via the memoir’s self-contemplative and self-evaluating discipline.

Writing exercise include practice in: a) several or all of the eight craft elements of spiritual writing, b) transforming assertions and doctrine into concrete expressions of inner and relational experience, and c) improvising or brainstorming new ways of exploring questions of faith, lost faith, and doubt.

Reading excerpts include selections from: a) Christian authors Augustine and Therese of Lisieux, b) spiritual essayists Langston Hughes and Bruce Lawrie, and c) contemporary memoirists Cheryl Strayed, Peter Matthiessen, and Barbara Ehrenreich.

The goal is an awareness of what spiritual literature is and how one’s transcendent experiences can make sense through the rigor of deeply reflective and narratively rich personal writing.

Thomas Larson has given two-hour, all-day, and weeklong workshops at bookstores, writing centers, libraries, writers' guilds, private groups, and universities for beginning and advanced memoirists throughout the United States.

Mr. Larson is also available to speak/teach at writers' conferences, do one-on-one interviews on podcasts and stage, give readings, and participate on panels devoted to religious and spiritual authorship.

For more on "Writing the Spiritual Memoir," please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for scheduling and fees.