memoir | WAMC

memoir

Book cover for "The Luckiest Guy in the World"
Skyhorse

Robert Abrams, born and raised in the Bronx, went on to become a crusading attorney general of New York from 1979 to 1993. As a reformer, he battled political machine bosses and special interests, winning landmark victories for consumers, protecting the environment, and a woman’s right to choose. He led attorneys general across the nation to protect the rights of all Americans.

He recounts his life and experiences in his new book, "The Luckiest Guy in the World: My Journey in Politics."

Growing up on Cape Cod in the 1960s, Liza Rodman was a lonely little girl. During the summers, while her mother worked days in a local motel and danced most nights in the Provincetown bars, her babysitter—the kind, handsome handyman at the motel where her mother worked—took her and her sister on adventures in his truck.

He bought them popsicles and together, they visited his “secret garden” in the Truro woods. To Liza, he was one of the few kind and understanding adults in her life. Everyone thought he was just a “great guy.” But there was one thing she didn’t know; their babysitter was a serial killer.

Liza never made the connection between her friendly babysitter and the infamous killer of numerous women, including four in Massachusetts, until decades later. The Babysitter reveals the chilling and unforgettable true story of a charming but brutal psychopath through the eyes of a young girl who once called him her friend.

Liza Rodman and Jennifer Jordan are now telling the story in the new book, "The Babysitter."

Book cover for "Hot Seat"
Avid Reader Press / Avid Reader Press

In September 2001, Jeff Immelt replaced the most famous CEO in history, Jack Welch, at the helm of General Electric. Less than a week into his tenure, the 9/11 terrorist attacks shook the nation, and the company, to its core. GE was connected to nearly every part of the tragedy-GE-financed planes powered by GE-manufactured engines had just destroyed real estate that was insured by GE-issued policies. Facing an unprecedented situation, Immelt knew his response would set the tone for businesses everywhere that looked to GE-one of America's biggest and most-heralded corporations-for direction.

Over the next sixteen years, Immelt would lead GE through many more dire moments, from the 2008-09 Global Financial Crisis to the 2011 meltdown of Fukushima's nuclear reactors, which were designed by GE. 

In "Hot Seat," Immelt offers a rigorous, candid interrogation of himself and his tenure, detailing for the first time his proudest moments and his biggest mistakes.

Book cover for "Ticking Clock" by Ira Rosen
St. Martin's Press

Two-time Peabody Award-winning writer and producer Ira Rosen reveals the intimate, untold stories of his decades at America’s most iconic news show - 60 Minutes in his new book "Ticking Clock: Behind the Scenes at 60-Minutes."

Based on decades of access and experience, Ira Rosen takes readers behind closed doors to offer an incisive look at the show that invented TV investigative journalism.

Mark Doty is the author of more than 10 volumes of poetry and three memoirs, including "Heaven's Coast," "Firebird," and the New York Times best selling "Dog Years," as well as a book about craft and criticism, "The Art of Description: World into Word."

His latest is "What Is the Grass: Walt Whitman in My Life."

Book cover for "The Good Hand"
Penguin/Random House

  Like thousands of restless men left unmoored in the wake of the 2008 economic crash, Michael Patrick Smith arrived in the fracking boomtown of Williston, North Dakota five years later homeless, unemployed, and desperate for a job. Renting a mattress on a dirty flophouse floor, he slept boot to beard with migrant men who came from all across America and as far away as Jamaica, Africa and the Philippines. They ate together, drank together, argued like crows and searched for jobs they couldn’t get back home. Smith’s goal was to find the hardest work he could do – to find out if he could do it.

His book this time in his life is "The Good Hand: A Memoir of Work, Brotherhood, and Transformation in an American Boomtown."

Front and back covers of "Crossing the Line" by Kareem Rosser
St. Martin's Press

This morning we meet Kareem Rosser - the captain of the first all-Black squad to win the Interscholastic Polo Championship, and the face of Ralph Lauren 2020 Holiday ad campaign. 

In his new book, “Crossing the Line,” Kareem tells his story about growing up in "The Bottom" in West Philly and eventually infiltrating the most privileged of sports.

Once again, his new book is – “Crossing the Line: A Fearless Team of Brothers and the Sport That Changed Their Lives Forever.” 

Book cover for "We Saw Scenery: The Early Diaries of Merrill Markoe"
Algonquin Books

In her first-ever graphic memoir, four-time Emmy-winning comedy writer Merrill Markoe unearths her treasured diaries, long kept under lock and key, to illustrate the hilarious story of her preteen and teen years and how she came to realize that her secret power was her humor. Her new book is: "We Saw Scenery: The Early Diaries of Merrill Markoe."

Wielding her layered and comically absurd style, Markoe takes readers back through her time as a Girl Scout, where she learned that “scouting” was really more about learning housewifery skills, to her earliest crushes on uniquely awful boys and her growing obsession with television.

Markoe was the head writer for the original The David Letterman Show (the live NBC morning show that was recognized with a Daytime Emmy Award) and the co-creator and first head writer of NBC’s groundbreaking Late Night with David Letterman, for which she won three additional Emmy Awards. She engineered the majority of the show’s original concepts and created the segments “Stupid Pet Tricks,” “Stupid Human Tricks,” and “Viewer Mail.”

She has written for television shows such as Sex and the CityNewhart, and Moonlighting and has written several bestselling books and was recently awarded the Paddy Chayevsky Laurel Award for Television Writing Achievement. 

Best known for directing such successes as "Addams Family Values," "Get Shorty," and the first three "Men in Black" movies, Barry Sonnenfeld's importance to modern cinema expands considerably when his cinematographer credits are added to the list: The Coen Brothers' first three films: "Blood Simple," "Raising Arizona," and "Miller's Crossing." He also was the Director of Photography on "Throw Momma from the Train," "Big," "When Harry Met Sally," and "Misery," plus, of course, his television hits: "Pushing Daisies" and "A Series of Unfortunate Events."

Bess Kalb, Emmy-nominated TV writer and New Yorker contributor, saved every voicemail her grandmother Bobby Bell ever left her. Bobby was a force--irrepressible, glamorous, unapologetically opinionated. Bobby doted on Bess; Bess adored Bobby. Then, at ninety, Bobby died. In Kalb's debut memoir, "Nobody Will Tell You This But Me," Bobby is speaking to Bess once more, in a voice as passionate as it ever was in life.

Joe Donahue: Glennon Doyle is the author of the number one New York Times bestseller “Love Warrior” an Oprah's Book Club selection as well as the New York Times bestseller “Carry On, Warrior.” An activist, speaker, and thought leader, she is also the founder and president of Together Rising, an all women-lead nonprofit organization that has revolutionized grassroots philanthropy, raising over $20 million for women, families and children in crisis.

Her latest, “Untamed” is both a memoir and a wakeup call. It offers an examination of the restrictive expectations women are issued from birth, shows how hustling to meet those expectations leaves women feeling dissatisfied and lost, overwhelmed and underwhelmed, and reveals that when we quit abandoning ourselves and instead abandon the world's expectations of us, they become women who can finally look at themselves in the mirror and recognize there she is. 

Book cover for "This is Not My Memoir?
Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Farrar, Straus and Giroux

André Gregory has been directing in New York for more than half a century. He has collaborated on film versions of his theatre productions with Wallace Shawn, Louis Malle, and Jonathan Demme. He is also an actor, writer, teacher, painter, and author of the poetry collection, "Bone Songs."

He has now written an autobiography-of-sorts. "This is Not My Memoir" tells Gregory’s life story for the first time, where he shares memories from a life lived for art, including stories from the making of the classic 1981 independent film, "My Dinner with André."

Taking on the dizzying, wondrous nature of a fever dream, "This is Not My Memoir" includes fantastic and fantastical stories that take the reader from wartime Paris to golden-age Hollywood, from avant-garde theaters to monasteries in India. Along the way we meet Jerzy Grotowski, Gregory Peck, Wallace Shawn, and many other larger-than-life personalities.

Book cover for "Three Rings"
University of Virginia Press / University of Virginia Press

Best-selling memoirist and critic Daniel Mendelsohn joins us to discuss his new book, "Three Rings," about the mysterious links between the randomness of the lives we lead and the artfulness of the stories we tell.

Combining memoir, biography, history, and literary criticism, "Three Rings" weaves together the stories of three exiled writers who turned to the classics of the past to create masterpieces of their own works that pondered the nature of narrative itself.

Daniel Mendelsohn is a frequent contributor to the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books, where he is Editor-at-Large. His books include the memoirs "An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic" and "The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million." He teaches literature at Bard College.

Long before she was the acclaimed author of "You Just Don't Understand," a groundbreaking book about women and men, Deborah Tannen was a girl who adored her father. Though he was often absent during her childhood, she was profoundly influenced by his gift for writing and storytelling. As she grew up and he grew older, she spent countless hours recording conversations with her father for the account of his life she had promised him she’d write.

But when he hands Tannen journals he kept in his youth, and she discovers letters he saved from a woman he might have married instead of her mother, she is forced to rethink her assumptions about her father’s life and her parents’ marriage.

"Finding My Father" is a memoir of Eli Tannen’s life and the ways in which it reflects the near century that he lived.

Tony Award Winner Linda Lavin is best known portraying the title character in the TV series "Alice." She is also known for making several stage performances in many Broadway and Off-Broadway projects like "Death Defying Acts," "The Lyons," "Last of the Red Hot Lovers," "Broadway Bound," "Gypsy," and "The Diary of Anne Frank," to name a few.

In addition, Lavin has received the Golden Globe Award twice under the category Best TV Actress in a Musical or Comedy for her work in "Alice." Besides these, she is also a two-time Obie Award awardee. In 2011, Lavin was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.

She joins us this morning to talk about another credit she has – she narrated the book: "My Own Words" by Ruth Bader Ginsburg - which we heard portions of during The Roundtable Panel this morning.

A Deal With A Devil

Sep 17, 2020

Tony Schwartz was Donald Trump’s ghostwriter for his bestselling book, "The Art of the Deal." In his new audiobook, "Dealing with the Devil: My Mother, Trump and Me," he confronts the shame that arose in the years after he helped craft a persona for Donald Trump that 30 years later aided in his election as president.

Schwartz explores how the experience of writing "The Art of the Deal" prompted him to take an entirely different path in his life. This path led Schwartz to a lifelong exploration of the factors that shape our beliefs and identity, the influence of our early caregivers, and the ways that we can heal and grow by accepting and acknowledging both the best and the worst in ourselves.

Schwartz’s story is defined not by his time with Trump, but rather by his lifelong quest to become a better human being - as a husband, a father, a grandfather and as the CEO of a company devoted to helping others more skillfully and wisely manage their lives.

In more than 50 years after her death, the legacy of author Shirley Jackson lives on with a recent film adaptation based on her book "We Have Always Lived in the Castle," Netflix series loosely inspired by "The Haunting of Hill House" and the new film. "Shirley," starring Elisabeth Moss.

New readers continue to discover this prolific author who is probably best known for her story, "The Lottery." Many of Jackson's novels, memoirs, and short stories were written in North Bennington, Vermont, where she lived with her husband, Stanley Edgar Hyman, and their four children. This morning, we meet Barry Hyman, Jackson's youngest son to talk about his mother, his childhood, and the legacy of Shirley Jackson.

Award-winning writer and public health executive Michelle Bowdler's new memoir, "Is Rape a Crime?," indicts how sexual violence has been addressed for decades in our society, asking whether rape is a crime given that it is the least reported major felony, least successfully prosecuted, and fewer than 3% of reported rapes result in conviction. Cases are closed before they are investigated and DNA evidence sits for years untested and disregarded

Rape in this country is not treated as a crime of brutal violence but often as a question of he said / she said. Bowdler says given all this, it seems fair to ask whether rape is actually a crime.

Michelle Bowdler is the Executive Director of Health & Wellness at Tufts University and, after graduating from the Harvard School of Public Health, has worked on social justice issues related to rape for over a decade. "Is Rape a Crime?" is her first book.

Joe Donahue: Kathy Valentine is a musician and songwriter known for being part of the all-female band The Go-Go's. She wrote or co-wrote many of the band's most renowned songs including "Vacation" and "Head Over Heels". In addition to playing music and writing songs, she has worked as an actor, public speaker and spokesperson and producer. She is now an author, the name of the new book is "All I Ever Wanted: A Rock 'n' Roll Memoir". 

Esther Safran Foer grew up in a home where the past was too terrible to speak of - born in Poland after World War II, her mother and father each the sole survivors of their respective families. For Esther, the Holocaust loomed in the backdrop of her daily life, but never felt discussed. The result was a childhood marked by painful silences and continued tragedy.

Even as she built a successful career married and raised three children, Esther always filter self searching. When Esther was in her early 40s, her mother casually mentioned in astonishing revelation that Esther's father had a previous wife and daughter both murdered in the Holocaust.

That would mark the beginning of the search that would define the next 20 years. She writes about it in her new book, "I Want You to Know We're Still Here" where she recounts her journey to piece together her past.

Esther Safran for was the CEO of Sixth & I, a center for arts, ideas and religion. She lives in Washington with her husband, Bert. They are the parents of Franklin, Jonathan and Joshua Safran Foer, all bestselling authors.

  Beth Robbins' first book, "A Grief Sublime," begins with the moment she is informed of her husband's sudden death in a car accident. Her navigation of grief becomes a hero's journey and ultimately leads to rediscovery.  

Her style brings readers into the direct and immediate experience of deep tragedy as well as literature. Robbins enters into conversation with Keats and Whitman, Melville and Dickinson, discovering through these writers that grief has amplified life's spectrum, welcoming her into the realm of literature where imagination meets experience in new and profound ways.  

This story is ultimately hopeful and transcendent, transforming despair into a new experience of life and a recognition of the love that remains after death.  Beth Robbins is a longtime English and drama teacher at the Berkshire Waldorf High School in Stockbridge, MA.

The new book is "A Grief Sublime." Our friend and wonderful actor Karen Allen read the audiobook.

The opioid crisis is nightly news in America, responsible for over 47,000 deaths every year – nearly two-thirds of all drug related deaths in this country. The question on everyone’s mind is: why? Why do so many people turn to drugs? When her twelve-year-old son, Atticus, asked her this question, essayist and Ravishly columnist, Erin Khar, needed to look inward before answering.

The result was "Strung Out: One Last Hit and Other Lies That Nearly Killed Me," a raw and often shocking meditation on Khar’s fifteen-year opioid addiction and her long, difficult road to recovery.

Khar will be part of the Volume Reading series at Spotty Dog Books and Ale in Hudson, New York with Douglas Stuart, Valerie Hsiung and Briallen Hopper on Saturday, March 14 at 7 p.m.

Michael Korda is the best-selling author of “Hero,” “Clouds of Glory,” and “Charmed Lives” and is the former editor-in-chief of Simon and Schuster.

In his new memoir, “Passing,” he tells the story of his beloved wife’s brain cancer diagnosis and death. The heartfelt and open prose shares the details of Michael and Margaret’s journey to the end of her life. 

Karen Auvinen is a poet, mountain woman, lifelong westerner, writer, and the author of the memoir "Rough Beauty: Forty Seasons of Mountain Living."

Determined to live an independent life on her own terms, Karen Auvinen flees to a primitive cabin in the Rockies to live in solitude as a writer and to embrace all the beauty and brutality nature has to offer. When a fire incinerates every word she has ever written and all of her possessions - except for her beloved dog Elvis, her truck, and a few singed artifacts - Karen embarks on a heroic journey to reconcile her desire to be alone with her need for community.

"Wholly Unraveled" is Keele Burgin’s memoir of self-discovery and finding her voice.

Burgin was raised in a Catholic cult, under the unforgiving eye of her abusive father. She watched her mother disappear before her eyes. Once on her own in the world, Burgin found herself in a damaging spiral of self-destruction. Then, she spent a year in almost complete silence at a remote community in rural Canada. She is now a successful entrepreneur, activist, author, and filmmaker.

Jessica Laurel Kane joins us to talk about her new book, “The Girl Who Was Born with Glue in Her Brain.” It is a picture book/memoir about a girl with a handful of thoughts that keep her from being able to enjoy life as much as she would like to, and tells the story of what she eventually decides to do about it.

Jessica Kane is the author-illustrator of four books for children: "The Butterfly Who Was Afraid to Fly and Other Stories," "Feed It to the Worms," "A Book of Hearts."

Our tech-guru Jesse Feiler is an author and developer who focuses on small business and nonprofits along with iOS technologies. He has recently added book publisher to his roles: his Champlain Arts business has published apps for a number of years, and has recently added books. Uta Hagen’s memoir "Sources" is back in print through ChamplainArts.com.

Tech aside this morning, Jesse is here to tell us about a two night event next week at SUNY Plattsburgh entitled: "The Artistry and Politics of Uta Hagen - A Centennial Celebration of Her Life."

Uta Hagen was a renowned American actress and teacher. Her Broadway career began in 1938 and spanned more than six decades, garnering her three Tony Awards. In 1947, she began teaching acting at HB Studio in Greenwich Village. She established herself as one of the most influential acting teachers of the 20th century. Her acting books, "Respect for Acting" (1973) and "A Challenge for the Actor" (1991), are considered two of the most important acting books of the 20th century.

Jesse joins us along with Ted Brunetti - producer, director, acting coach, teacher, and actor. Ted created the role of “Frankie Coffee Cake” in the Broadway Production of “A Bronx Tale: The Musical.” He was a long-time colleague and protégé of Uta Hagen.

Eugenia Zukerman
Photo courtesy Leaf Peeper Concert Series

In addition to being a famous soloist and outstanding chamber musician, Eugenia Zukerman was for thirteen years the Artistic Director of the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. Prior that, Ms. Zukerman interviewed and created more than three hundred portraits as the Arts Correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning, for which she received an Emmy nomination for broadcast journalism. Eugenia has performed as soloist with many of the world's finest orchestras. She is currently the artistic director of Clarion concerts in Hudson, New York and Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

The Clarion Concerts' Leaf Peeper series takes place September 15 and 21; and October 12 and 26.

Eugenia Zukerman is also the author of the forthcoming book, "Like Falling Through a Cloud," about her experience of the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. The book will be available November 5.

Eugenia Zuckerman joins us along with President of Clarion’s Board of Directors Dave Hall.

Iliana Regan is a self-taught chef. She is the founder and owner of the Michelin-starred “new gatherer” restaurant Elizabeth and the Japanese-inspired pub Kitsune, both located in Chicago.

She was a little girl who longed to be a boy, gay in an intolerant community, an alcoholic before she turned twenty, and a woman in an industry dominated by men. She often felt she “wasn’t made for this world,” and as far as she could tell, the world tended to agree.

Through meditations on race, culture, and family, "One Day on the Gold Line" tells the story of a lesbian Jewish single mother raising a black son in Los Angeles.

A memoir-in-essays, it examines life’s surprising changes that come through choice or circumstance, often seemingly out of nowhere, and sometimes darkly humorous even as the situations are dire.

Pages