memoir | WAMC

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.

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.

  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.

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. 

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.

You may know him as Mango, Mr. Peepers, the gibberish-spouting Suel Forrester, or one half of the head-bopping brothers in "A Night at the Roxbury." Not long after Chris was labeled one of the improv group Groundlings’ “must-see” performers in the company, he was cast on SNL and within the first six weeks, Chris’s film career also took off.

In his memoir "Baby Don't Hurt Me: Stories and Scars from Saturday Night Live," Kattan opens up about eight seasons on SNL, performing alongside friends and future legends including Will Ferrell, Jimmy Fallon, and Tina Fey, and guest hosts from Charlize Theron to Tom Hanks to David Bowie.

Book cover for River of Fire and author photo of Sister Helen Prejean
Author photo by Michael Lionstar

Sister Helen Prejean is considered one of the nation’s foremost leaders in efforts to abolish the death penalty.

In her new book, "River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey," she shares the story of her growth as a spiritual leader, speaks out about the challenges of the Catholic Church, and shows that joy and religion are not mutually exclusive.

Raised by powerful women in a restrictive, sheltered Christian community in New England, Ryan Dostie never imagined herself on the front lines of a war halfway around the world. But then a conversation with an Army recruiter in her high-school cafeteria changed the course of her life. Hired as a linguist, she quickly had to find a space for herself in the testosterone-filled world of the Army barracks, and had been holding her own until the unthinkable happened: she was raped by a fellow soldier.

Struggling with PTSD and commanders who didn’t trust her story, Dostie found herself fighting through the isolation of trauma amid the challenges of an unexpected war. Dostie tells her story in the new book, Formation: A Woman's Memoir of Stepping Out of Line.

“I Loved Lucy” is an autobiographical play by Lee Tannen about his friendship with entertainment icon Lucille Ball during the final years of the comedy legend’s life.

After receiving a warm reception in London, the play will have its New York premiere performances in the Hudson Valley this month presented by Gary DiMauro at Helsinki Hudson in Hudson, New York on August 24, and at The Woodstock Playhouse in Woodstock, New York on August 31.

In this production, Lee Tannen will play himself opposite Sandra Dickinson as Lucy.

Accomplished stage and screen actor, Sandra Dickinson is best known for her work in Birds Eye Beefburger TV advertisements directed by Alan Parker in the early 1970s, and as Trillian in the 1981 television adaptation of “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.” She’s often works as a voice-actor for animated series.

Farming has been in John Connell's family for generations, but he never intended to follow in his father's footsteps. Until, one winter, after more than a decade away, he finds himself back on the farm.

Connell records the hypnotic rhythm of the farming day—cleaning the barns, caring for the herd, tending to sickly lambs, helping the cows give birth. Alongside the routine events, there are the unforeseen moments when things go wrong: when a calf fails to thrive, when a sheep goes missing, when illness breaks out, when an argument between father and son erupts and things are said that cannot be unsaid.

"The Farmer’s Son" is the story of a calving season, and the story of a man who emerges from depression to find hope in the place he least expected to find it.

"Hope and History" is a memoir and a call-to-action for the renewal of faith in democracy and America.

US Ambassador William J. vanden Heuvel presents his most important public speeches and writings, compiled and presented over eight decades of adventure and public service, woven together with anecdotes of his colorful life as a second-generation American, a soldier, a lawyer, a political activist, and a diplomat.

Ruth Reichl is an award-winning journalist, honored with six James Beard Awards for her journalism, magazine feature writing, and criticism. Her latest book, “Save Me the Plums,” chronicles her groundbreaking tenure as editor in chief of Gourmet Magazine. The book is also a commentary on the revolutionary world of food from 1999 to 2009.

From awkward schoolgirl to Caterer to the Stars, Mary Giuliani has gathered together a collection of hilarious memories, from professional growing pains to her long journey to motherhood, never losing her sense of humor and her love for everyone's favorite party food, pigs in a blanket.

Her new book is “Tiny Hot Dogs: A Memoir in Small Bites.”

Ani DiFranco is a Grammy-winning musical artist and feminist icon recognized for her poetry and songwriting which pierces social convention and challenges the status quo, as well as for her social activism and political engagement. Her new book is No Walls and the Recurring Dream.

DiFranco’s coming of age story is defined by her ethos of fierce independence: from being an emancipated minor sleeping in a Buffalo bus station, to unwaveringly building a career through appearances at small clubs and festivals, to releasing her first album at the age of 18, to consciously rejecting the mainstream recording industry and creating her own label, Righteous Babe Records.

Anna Quindlen became a go-to writer on the joys and challenges of family, motherhood, and modern life, in her nationally syndicated column.

In her new book, "Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting," she offers observations about her new role, no longer mother and decision-maker, but secondary character and support to the parents of her grandchildren.

According to author Mark Berger, Woodstock was the sixties condensed into seventy-two hours, and proof that peace and love could turn a potential disaster into a mythic celebration of life. Berger tells of that time in his memoir, "Something's Happening Here: A Sixties Odyssey from Brooklyn to Woodstock."

Arriving four days early, he helped set up kitchens and paths. During the festival, he worked to calm kids tripping out on bad acid, maneuvered a water truck through a sea of spectators, and fell in love, twice. After the festival, it’s decision time: Does he Berger drop out and move to a commune in New Mexico or return to Brooklyn and become a teacher? For Berger, at Woodstock it all comes together ― who he is, what he believes, and which path he has to take.

Berger will be reading from his book at The Book House in Albany, New York on May 16.

When Lois Letchford learns her son has been diagnosed with a low IQ at the end of grade one, she refuses to give up on his future. After thorough testing, Nicholas proves to have no spatial awareness, limited concentration, and can only read ten words.

Nicholas is labeled "learning disabled," a designation considered more derogatory than "dyslexia," the world of education is quick to cast him aside. Determined to prove them all wrong, Lois temporarily removes her son from the school system and begins working with him one-on-one.

What happens next is a journey: spanning three continents, unique teaching experiments, never-ending battles with the school system, a mother’s discovery of her own learning blocks, and a bond fueled by the desire to rid Nicholas of the “disabled” label.

Lois Letchford's book is "Reversed: A Memoir."

Meredith May recalls the first time a honeybee crawled on her arm. She was five years old, her parents had recently split and suddenly she found herself in the care of her grandfather, an eccentric beekeeper who made honey in a rusty old military bus in the yard. That first close encounter was at once terrifying and exhilarating for May, and in that moment she discovered that everything she needed to know about life and family was right before her eyes, in the secret world of bees.

The bees became a guiding force in May’s life, teaching her about family and community, loyalty and survival and the unequivocal relationship between a mother and her child. Part memoir, part beekeeping odyssey, "The Honey Bus" is a story about finding home in the most unusual of places, and how a tiny, little-understood insect could save a life.

Pamela Paul, editor of The New York Times Book Review, was in Albany, New York in April for an event with the New York State Writers Institute.

Paul has been a contributor to Time magazine and a columnist for Worth. She also originated and wrote the Studied column in The New York Times Sunday Styles section. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Economist, Vogue, Slate and more.

Her memoir, "My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues," tells the story of "Bob," Paul's book of books, a journal she started when she was 17 years old exchange student living in France, recording every book she has read since the summer of 1988. She first wrote about Bob in a 2012 essay in The New York Times.

photo of Nora Burns performing "David's Friend"
Eric McNatt (the projected image is by Patrick McMullan)

On Saturday, April 27 Hudson Hall in Hudson, New York will present Nora Burns in a performance of her one-woman show "David's Friend," written and performed by Nora Burns with direction by Adrienne Truscott, dramaturgy by Lucy Sexton, and visual collaboration by Len Whitney, and featuring Billy Hough.

The show is about a crazy friendship in 1980s New York City. The one-woman show is a comic odyssey about cruising, disco, drag queens, strippers, sex, love, loss, and AIDS, told with music, videos, costumes, characters, tall tales and torrid truths.

Author Aatish Taseer was born in the UK, the son of prominent Indian journalist Tavleen Singh and Pakistani politician, Salmaan Taseer. For his new book, "The Twice Born: Life and Death on the Ganges," Taseer traveled to Benares, the spiritual home of Hinduism for an up-close look at what the caste system means in India today.

Taseer says caste, the social and religious hierarchy of Hinduism, can have profound impacts on the trajectory of a person's life and governs any number of social interactions. It remains resilient in modern India, and Taseer considers its link to the rise of the Hindu nationalism.

Mining the dual losses of both her young marriage and her beloved mother, debut author Sarah McColl confronts her identity as a woman, walking lightly in the footsteps of the woman who came before her and clinging fast to the joy she left behind. Her new book is: “Joy Enough: A Memoir.”

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