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U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono is the first Asian American woman and the only immigrant currently serving in the U.S. Senate.

In her new book, "Heart of Fire," Senator Hirono chronicles her evolution from a dogged yet soft-spoken public servant into the fiery critic and advocate we know her as today. Hers is a uniquely American story, of immigrating to a new country in search of a better life and then dedicating her own life to advocating for her constituents.

Personal stories explain her stance on healthcare, immigration, family separation, and education—and readers are given fly-on-the-wall access to Congress, where Senator Hirono reveals how the governing body functioned before and after the Trump administration came to power.

Book cover for "The Ravine"
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

In 2009 Wendy Lower, the acclaimed author of "Hitler’s Furies" was shown a photograph just brought to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The documentation of the Holocaust is vast, but there are virtually no images of a Jewish family at the actual moment of murder, in this case by German officials and Ukrainian collaborators. A Ukrainian shooter’s rifle is inches from a woman's head, obscured in a cloud of smoke. She is bending forward, holding the hand of a barefooted little boy.

And—only one of the shocking revelations of Wendy Lower’s brilliant ten-year investigation of this image—the shins of another child, slipping from the woman’s lap.

The name of the book is "The Ravine: A Family, a Photograph, a Holocaust Massacre Revealed."

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."

In a world in which the word masculinity now often goes hand in hand with toxic, comedian, actor, and father Michael Ian Black offers up a way forward for boys, men, and anyone who loves them. Part memoir, part advice book, and written as a heartfelt letter to his college-bound son, "A Better Man" reveals Black’s own complicated relationship with his father, explores the damage and rising violence caused by the expectations placed on boys to “man up,” and searches for the best way to help young men be part of the solution, not the problem.

Vanessa Veselka’s new novel, "The Great Offshore Grounds," tells the story of sisters Livy and Cheyenne as they set out to claim an unusual inheritance from their estranged father. The book explores how individuals begin to navigate ethics and emotions until they find where in the world they belong.

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.

Parents live in a culture obsessed with their children and their own outcomes, so they are highly susceptible to anxiety and perfectionism. Washington Post parenting columnist Meghan Leahy joins us to assuage our worries and overwhelm with her book, "Parenting Outside the Lines."

Leahy provides insights on how we can trust our gut, pick our battles, and how to assess what works best for our individual children. Leahy uses the lessons from the parenting trenches, common sense, and her nearly twenty years of experience helping families to create thoughtful questions that can help every parent find their own intuition. 

Meghan Leahy is the On Parenting columnist for The Washington Post, and a certified parenting coach. 

Joe Donahe: Journalist Lauren Sandler's new book "This Is All I Got: A New Mother's Search for Home" is an immersion in the life of a young homeless single mother amid her quest to find stability and shelter in the richest city in America. Camila is 22 years old and a new mother, she has no family to rely on, no partner, and no home. Sandler chronicles a year in Camila's life from birth of her son to his first birthday, as she navigates the labyrinth of poverty and homelessness in New York City.

Lauren Sandler as an award winning journalist. She is the author of three books, including the brand-new "This Is All I Got: A New Mother's Search for Home." 

In this week’s Classical Music According to Yehuda, Alan Chartock and Yehuda Hanani conclude their series of conversations about prodigies.

Music - "The Michael Rabin Legacy: Unissued Recordings" - Felix Mendelssohn - Auf Flügeln des Gesanges Op.34 No.2

This is the final Classical Music According to Yehuda segment. We thank Yehuda for his time and expertise. Information about Close Encounters with Music can be found here.

Book Cover for "On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous" and author photo of Ocean Vuong
Author photo by Tom Hines

Brilliant, heartbreaking, tender, and highly original - poet Ocean Vuong’s debut novel, “On Earth, We’re Briefly Gorgeous,” is a sweeping and shattering portrait of a family, and a testament to the redemptive power of storytelling written as a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. 

"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.


  Dr. Marika Lindholm a sociologist and the founder of Empowering Solo Moms Everywhere and esme.com - a gathering place for solo mothers to discuss their experiences and find information about navigating the particular challenges or raising children alone. 

 

Lindholm is the co-editor of the new book “We Got This: Solo Mom Stories of Grit, Heart and Humor.” She will be at Oblong Books and Music in Rhinebeck, New York at 6pm on Friday, November 1.

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.

Acclaimed author Courtney Maum’s latest, "Costalegre," is the striking, heartbreaking and strange story of a privileged teenager who has everything a girl could wish for except for a mother who loves her back - heavily inspired by the real-life relationship between the heiress Peggy Guggenheim and her daughter.

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.

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.”

Listener Essay - Amidst The Rain

Feb 7, 2019
a burbling stream
Bob Slack

  Debbie Slack was honored to be a recipient of the 2018 Edwin Way Teale Artist in Residence at Trail Wood sponsored by the Connecticut Audubon Society.

Inspired by the residency, Debbie has been writing a series of essays which has expanded into a memoir titled "Trail Wood: A Love Story." Debbie is also focused on publishing her novel, "Margaret Mary and the Gutsy Girls." She is excited for their story to leave the comforts of home and venture out into the hearts of girls everywhere. Outside of writing, Debbie enjoys exploring nature with her husband, Bob, and their two Labradors.

~Amidst the Rain~

On this February eleventh I am torn, not knowing where I need to be. Will stepping into nature provide what I require? What I am searching for?

DENIZEN Theatre is an arts organization producing intimate live professional black box theatre at Water Street Market in New Paltz, New York. Denizen’s flexible 50 to 70 seat theatre allows audiences to experience compelling actor-driven live theatre with a season of plays that focuses on new works, emerging playwrights, and powerful themes.

“The Arsonists” by Jacqueline Goldfinger, is a lyrical Gothic tale inspired by Electra in which a father and daughter - poets, musicians, and storytellers - on the run from the law, must learn to let go. They play is a provocative journey from grief to redemption that delves into the primordial bond between parent and child.

“The Arsonists” will have a preview performance on January 31, open on February 1 and run through February 24. The founding artistic team of DENIZEN Theatre joins us: Founder/ Producing Artistic Director Harry Lipstein, and Co-Artistic Director’s Brittany Proia and Ben Williamson. Williamson is directing "The Arsonists."

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s first short story collection, “Friday Black,” is a satirical look at what it’s like to be young and black in America, offering surreal tales and dystopian satire about American consumerism and race.

Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Kiese Laymon, Ottilie Schillig Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi, is the author of the novel "Long Division" and a collection of essays, "How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America."

In his new book, "Heavy: An American Memoir," he writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son to a complicated and brilliant black mother in Jackson, Mississippi. From his early experiences of sexual violence, to his suspension from college, to his trek to New York as a young college professor, Laymon charts his complex relationship with his mother, grandmother, anorexia, obesity, sex, writing, and ultimately gambling.

By attempting to name secrets and lies he and his mother spent a lifetime avoiding, Laymon asks himself, his mother, his nation, and us to confront the terrifying possibility that few in this nation actually know how to responsibly love, and even fewer want to live under the weight of actually becoming free.

In kindergarten, Jarrett Krosoczka's teacher asks him to draw his family, with a mommy and a daddy. But Jarrett's family is much more complicated than that. His mom is an addict, in and out of rehab, and in and out of Jarrett's life. His father is a mystery, Jarrett doesn't know where to find him, or even what his name is. Jarrett lives with his grandparents, two very loud, very loving, very opinionated people who had thought they were through with raising children until Jarrett came along.

Shakespeare & Company is currently presenting Obie Award-winning playwright Taylor Mac's dark comedy “HIR,” directed by Alice Reagan through October 7.

The play begins with Isaac, who has returned from the war in Afghanistan, only to discover a household in revolt.

The insurgent: his mom.

Liberated from an oppressive marriage with a now ailing husband, and with Isaac’s newly out transgender sibling as her ally, she’s on a crusade to dismantle the patriarchy. But in Taylor Mac’s sly, subversive comedy, we learn that annihilating the past doesn’t always free you from it.

Mac has said “Hir” was inspired and influenced by Sam Shephard’s “Buried Child” and by his own miserable hometown experience in Stockton, California.

We are joined by actors Elizabeth Aspenlieder, John Hadden, and Jack Doyle.

Psychotherapist Teresa Gil joins us this morning discuss her new book: "Women Who Were Sexually Abused Children: Mothering, Resilience, and Protecting the Next Generation." The book is made up of stories of mothers who survived sexual abuse as children reveal the struggles, challenges, and triumphs of this special group of women.

Unraveling the veil of silence and capturing the experiences of mothers who were sexually abused as children, this book offers a first step in both supporting mothers and disrupting the cycle of intergenerational abuse that keeps these mothers isolated and alone in their mothering challenges and successes.

Teresa Gil, PhD, has been a psychotherapist, professor, and trainer for more than 25 years. She has a private practice working with women, children, and families dealing with recovery from child abuse and trauma. She is a full professor and teaches General Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Child Psychology, and Psychology of Women at Hudson Valley Community College.

Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe. Her latest is “Pieces Of Her.” It is her eighteenth novel and it will be produced for TV by the women who have directed and written for “Homeland,” “Mad Men” and “House of Cards.”

“Pieces of Her” asks: What if everything you thought you knew about your quiet, middle-age mother was wrong? What if she has spent the past 30 years hiding in plain sight? What if, when violence erupts at your local mall and a shooter goes on a rampage, the person who stops him, dead, is your mother? What if everything you thought you knew changed in an instant? “Pieces of Her” follows Andrea, a woman who thought she knew everything about her mother, Laura, until the moment she realized she didn’t, and their world unravels.

After her mother is shot at a checkpoint, fifteen-year-old Sarah meets a mysterious man with an ambiguous accent, a suspiciously bare apartment, and a lockbox full of weapons. He's part of the secret resistance against the Third Reich, and he needs Sarah to hide in plain sight at a school for the daughters of top Nazi brass, posing as one of them.

If she can befriend the daughter of a key scientist and get invited to her house, she might be able to steal the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy the cities of Western Europe. Nothing could prepare Sarah for her cutthroat schoolmates, and soon she finds herself in a battle for survival unlike any she'd ever imagined. But anyone who underestimates this innocent-seeming girl does so at their peril. She may look sweet, but she's the Nazis' worst nightmare.

Matt Killeen's new novel is "Orphan Monster Spy."

Larry Ruhl’s new book, “Breaking the Ruhls,” is a profoundly personal account of the impact of complex trauma on a man’s life. Larry’s father sought comfort from his only son, blurring critical boundaries that would prove deeply debilitating. Larry’s mother, with her spiraling, ever-changing mental illness kept the family in a constant state of anxiety.

Whether married, single, widowed, divorced, with children or without, at some point women inevitably ask the question, "What's next for me?"

Amy Nobile and Trisha Ashworth create a road map for how to embrace and thrive in this new phase of life in their book, "Just When You’re Comfortable in Your Own Skin, It Starts to Sag: Rewriting the Rules to Midlife."

Tyra Banks is many things: a world-famous supermodel, the creator, executive producer, and host of longest-running fashion-reality show "America’s Next Top Model," and Emmy-winning talk show, "The Tyra Show," to name just a few.

In her new book, co-written with her mother, "Perfect Is Boring: 10 Things My Crazy, Fierce Mama Taught Me About Beauty, Booty, and Being a Boss," the mother-daughter duo recall the signature mix of pep talks and tough love that shaped Tyra and helped her become the beloved mogul she is today.

"Before They Were Our Mothers: Voices of Women Born Before Rosie Started Riveting" was conceived when Patricia Nugent realized, at her mother’s funeral, that she knew very little about her mother’s life before her mother was her mother. She’d never asked; her mother had never offered. Nugent deeply regretted missing the opportunity to know her mother more fully. To inspire other families to share personal histories, she compiled this anthology of real-life stories about women before they were mothers.

In addition to deeply evocative first-person accounts, "Before They Were Our Mothers" offers readers a personal glimpse of world events from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s, as written in that moment by current-day descendants. We are joined by Patricia Nugent (editor), Sue Van Hook (author) and Crystal Hamelink (author). There will be a reading from the book at Battenkill Books in Cambridge, NY on Thursday, February 15 at 7 p.m.

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