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Truth-telling

Opening your heart is tough especially when you’re laying it bare for the world to scrutinize. Below are Las Vegas Weekly‘s favorite confessional works of art.

ALBUM

John Coltrane, A Love Supreme (1964)

The confessional is not just an account of one’s deepest secrets, but also a record of one’s quest for improvement, and few albums match this latter sense more than John Coltrane’s 1964 masterpiece. Driving and meditative, Trane’s journey toward freedom, toward God, becomes our own. –T.R. Witcher

ALBUM

Cursive, Domestica (2000)

Confession as catharsis. Tim Kasher dealt with his traumatic divorce by chronicling all the sordid details and naked emotions for the world to hear. “And thusly it ends/Depression seeps in on a lonely messiah/Now he drinks with the lepers/Losing a limb, his better half.” Listening can feel frighteningly voyeuristic, but this stuff’s too powerful to avoid. –Spencer Patterson

DOCUMENTARY

Nathaniel Kahn, My Architect (2003)

Kahn attempts to understand the famous architect father he never knew by studying the man’s many buildings. The movie approaches the issue of identity through the analysis of works of art and design, and ponders the question of how someone can be beloved by masses of people he never met, yet completely alien to his own son. –Josh Bell

MEMOIR

Mary Karr, The Liars’ Club (1995)

This classic of the modern memoir form justifies every adjective ever applied to it: “lyrical,” “razor-edged,” “funny,” “raw,” “painful” and a thousand more. It’s the story of Karr’s imploding family, set in East Texas. Even those turned off by the excesses of the confessional genre will find this unsparing gem worth their time. –Scott Dickensheets

GRAPHIC NOVEL

Joe Matt, Spent (2007)

Wretched miser/chronic masturbator Matt’s work is an oddly uplifting tragicomedy of the “There but for the grace of God …” variety. –J. Caleb Mozzocco

DOCUMENTARY

Ross McElwee, Sherman’s March (1986)

The prototypical personal-essay documentary, McElwee’s Sherman’s March started as a historical study before quickly detouring into an analysis of the director’s fractured love life. Funny, insightful and groundbreaking, it proved that introspection could be as valuable a documentary subject as politics or sociology. –JB

NOVEL

Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974)

The seemingly simple story of a father trying to reconcile with his son on a cross-country motorcycle trip quickly evolves into a riveting tale of a man piecing together the remains of his own psyche as well as an epic attempt to climb the “high country” of Western philosophy and develop a new theory of reality. –TRW

GRAPHIC NOVEL

Marjane Satrapi, The Complete Persepolis (2007)

Autobio comics tend to be either deeply personal stories of mundane day-to-day drama, or event-oriented tales set in exotic lands and focused on issues of world import. Satrapi’s is both at once. –JCM

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