family

Listener Essay - My Rock

Jun 21, 2016

  Jackie Mercurio lives with her husband, five children, and black Lab in New York. She is a freelance writer and editor, who teaches at Concordia College and the Sarah Lawrence College Writing Institute.

My Rock

When I plant flowers near my grandfather's grave, my trowel strikes rock, and I think of the many years I have planted flowers right here in this very spot and have never encountered it. I dig around the stone. I scoop it from the earth. I roll it onto my hand. The rock is smooth and round, slightly smaller than my open palm, and with my index finger I brush away dirt, wondering if it's been buried here all along, the same three decades as my grandfather.

  On November 29, 2007 Joseph Luzzi's life forever changed. His wife, Catherine, eight-and-a-half months pregnant, was killed in a car crash.

Before she died, doctors delivered their daughter, Isabel. His new memoir is In A Dark Wood. It tells the story how he dealt with his grief in part through the writings of Dante.

  Author Kathryn Harrison's new book, True Crimes: A Family Album, is a collection of essays is about her own family. It covers many topics, including being a survivor of incest and coming to terms with one of the worst crimes that happened to her, perpetrated by her own father.

Kathryn Harrison has written 15 books - biographies, novels, essays - but is best known for her 1997 memoir, The Kiss, which is her account of the affair she had with her estranged father when she was 20 years old.

And while the experience affected her in unimaginable ways, she went on to an acclaimed literary career, and she built a full life for herself. She has a loving husband and three kids. Her new collection of essays, True Crimes: A Family Album, explores those other dimensions of her life.

  Best known of award-winning New York Times and Newsweek columns, Anna Quindlen returns with her eighth novel, Miller's Valley. 

The setting is a farming valley in Pennsylvania during the height of the Viet Nam War. Outside influences like the war and a government plan to flood the valley affect the lives of one family - and the community.

  The son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life in small town Arkansas, as a young man Garrard Conley was terrified and conflicted about his sexuality.
 
When Garrard was a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to “cure” him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life. Through an institutionalized Twelve-Step Program heavy on Bible study, he was supposed to emerge heterosexual, ex-gay, cleansed of impure urges and stronger in his faith in God for his brush with sin. Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to break out in search of his true self and forgiveness. 

His book is Boy Erased: A Memoir.

  The Nest is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down.

In her tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.

  Daniel Shapiro, Ph.D., is founder and director of the Harvard International Negotiation Program and a world-renowned expert on conflict resolution. From advising leaders of war-torn countries to working with senior executives and families in crisis, Dan has helped thousands of organizations and individuals solve the problems that divide us. Drawing on these experiences and his practice-based research, he has developed a wealth of practical approaches to amplify influence and leadership—in business, in government, and in life.

His new book is Negotiating the Nonnegotiable: How to Resolve Your Most Emotionally Charged Conflicts.

  Our Falling into Place series spotlights the important work of -and foster collaboration between- not-for-profit organizations in our communities; allowing us all to fall into place.

Falling Into Place is supported by The Seymour Fox Memorial Foundation, Providing a helping hand to turn inspiration into accomplishment. See more possibilities … see more promise… see more progress.

This week we will feature the work of: a pilot program in North Central Troy that seeks to provide at-risk children and their parents with a support system to help in their home life and help with the transition to middle school. The FOCAS (Family Opportunity Collaborative At Sunnyside) program uses a multi-faceted approach to address the family’s academic and non-academic barriers to success, among which are food security, a peer support system and financial literacy.

Sister Betsy Van Deusen has been director of community partnerships for diocesan Catholic Charities since 2013. This year marks her 25th in religious life.

  After four decades as a reporter, Lesley Stahl’s most vivid and transformative experience of her life was not covering the White House, interviewing heads of state, or researching stories at 60 Minutes. It was becoming a grandmother.

She was hit with a jolt of joy so intense and unexpected, she wanted to “investigate” it—as though it were a news flash. And so, using her60 Minutes skills, she explored how grandmothering changes a woman’s life.

Her new book is Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Science of the New Grandparenting.

  Many know Kimberly Williams-Paisley as the bride in the popular Steve Martin remakes of the Father of the Bride movies, the calculating Peggy Kenter on Nashville, or the wife of country music artist, Brad Paisley. But behind the scenes, Kim was dealing with a tragic secret: her mother, Linda, was suffering from a rare form of dementia that slowly crippled her ability to talk, write and eventually recognize people in her own family.
  
Where the Light Gets In tells the full story of Linda’s illness—called primary progressive aphasia—from her early-onset diagnosis at the age of 62 through the present day.

  In It Didn't Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle, Mark Wolynn, director of the Family Constellation Institute and creator of the Core Language Approach, shows how the traumas of our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents can live in our anxious words, fears, behaviors and unexplained physical symptoms—what scientists are now calling inherited family trauma, or “secondary PTSD.”

Even if the person who suffered the original trauma has died, or the story has been forgotten or silenced, memory and feelings can live on. These emotional legacies are often hidden, encoded in everything from gene expression to everyday language, and they play a far greater role in our emotional and physical health than has ever before been understood.

Mark Wolynn is a leading expert on inherited family trauma. As the director of The Family Constellation Institute in San Francisco, he trains clinicians and treats people struggling with depression, anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive thoughts, self-injury, chronic pain, and illness.

  As the adage goes: home is where the heart is. This may seem self-explanatory, but none of our close primate cousins have anything like homes. Whether we live in an igloo or in Buckingham Palace, the fact that Homo sapiens create homes is one of the greatest puzzles of our evolution.

In Home: How Habitat Made Us Human, neuroanthropologist John S. Allen marshals evidence from evolutionary anthropology, neuroscience, the study of emotion, and modern sociology to argue that the home is one of the most important cognitive, technological, and cultural products of our species’ evolution. It is because we have homes—relatively secure against whatever horrors lurk outside—that human civilizations have been able to achieve the periods of explosive cultural and creative progress that are our species’ hallmark.

  Beloved children's book author Kate DiCamillo will be in our region next Friday, as she presents her new novel Raymie Nightingale in a Northshire Bookstore event on Friday, April 15, 6 pm at Saratoga City Center.

Kate DiCamillo – a Two-time Newbery Medalist - returns to her roots with the story of an unforgettable summer friendship. Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie's picture in the paper and (maybe) come home.

  After a series of childhood misfortunes her father’s death, her mother’s ill-advised love affair, her disabled sister wrecking the family GTO, self-avowed church-geek Jo Page decided it was her job to figure out how to stay on God’s good side and maybe spare the family any more tragedy.

But she was a girl. And a Lutheran. Though women were ordained in the larger branch of the Lutheran church, when Page’s own pastor handed her a brochure enumerating all the ways in which she, as a female, was to be silent and submissive, she gave up on the church and went off in search of sex and drugs and rock-and-roll like any rejected adolescent Lutheran girl would.

Eventually Page found her way back into the church and ultimately into ordained ministry, spending twenty years in the ecclesiastical trenches, presiding over life’s rituals and preaching compulsory weekly words of hope she wasn’t sure she even believed.

Her new book is Preaching in My Yes Dress.

In The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer, newly single mom Beth has one constant, gnawing worry: that her dreamy eight-year-old daughter, Carmel, who has a tendency to wander off, will one day go missing. And then one day, it happens: On a Saturday morning thick with fog, Beth takes Carmel to a local outdoor festival, they get separated in the crowd, and Carmel is gone.

  Soon after Hillary Whittington and her husband, Jeff, addressed their daughter Ryland’s deafness with cochlear implants, Ryland began to express clearly, in word and behavior, a male identity, in ways typically seen as markers for young transgender children.

In her book, Raising Ryland: Our Story Of Parenting A Transgender Child With No Strings Attached, Hillary shares her family's story.

  For forty years John Hadden and his father of the same name fought at the dinner table over politics, art, and various issues concerning America. One was haunted by what he had witnessed during his long CIA career, from Berlin to Tel Aviv; the other retreated to the Vermont woods to direct Shakespeare until finally he confronted his father at the table one last time with a tape recorder.

His book, Conversations with a Masked Man is a series of conversations Hadden had with his father about the older man's thirty-year career as a CIA officer and how American policy affected the family and the world.

John Hadden has worked in the theater for forty years. He was artistic director of the Hubbard Hall Theater Company, a founding member of Shakespeare & Co, associate artist with We Players, and cofounder and artistic director of Counterpoint Theater in Boston. His solo show, Travels with a Masked Man, is composed of excerpts from the book.

  March 18th through the 20th, Rachel Siegel and WAM Theatre will present a workshop production of SPECIAL – a play in development created and performed by Rachel Siegel – at Berkshire Theatre Group’s Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge, MA.

Based on personal experience and inspired by interviews with mothers of children with special needs, SPECIAL follows one woman's journey after she discovers she is pregnant with a child with Down syndrome.

Rachel Siegel joins us now along with Jayne Atkinson who is acting as co-director for the workshop.

  On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives.

For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold, Dylan’s mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently?

These are questions that Klebold has grappled with every day since the Columbine tragedy. In A Mother’s Reckoning, she chronicles with unflinching honesty her journey as a mother trying to come to terms with the incomprehensible.

  More than a century has passed since Theodore Roosevelt was in the White House, but he still continues to fascinate. Never has a more exuberant man been our nation's leader. He became a war hero, reformed the NYPD, busted the largest railroad and oil trusts, passed the Pure Food and Drug Act, created national parks and forests, won the Nobel Peace Prize, and built the Panama Canal―to name just a few.

Yet it was the cause he championed the hardest―America's entry in to WWI―that would ultimately divide and destroy him. His youngest son, Quentin, his favorite, would die in an air fight. How does looking at Theodore's relationship with his son, and understanding him as a father, tell us something new about this larger-than-life-man?

Eric Burns explores the story and relationship in his book, The Golden Lad: The Haunting Story of Quentin and Theodore Roosevelt.

  Like nearly one in five people, Matt Haig suffers from depression. His book: Reasons to Stay Alive is Matt’s inspiring account of how, minute by minute and day by day, he overcame the disease with the help of reading, writing, and the love of his parents and his girlfriend (and now-wife.) And eventually, he learned to appreciate life all the more for it.

Speaking as his present self to his former self in the depths of depression, Matt is adamant that the oldest cliché is the truest—there is light at the end of the tunnel. The book looks to teach us to celebrate the small joys and moments of peace that life brings, and reminds us that there are always reasons to stay alive.

  In The Black Calhouns, Gail Lumet Buckley—daughter of actress Lena Horne—delves deep into her family history, detailing the experiences of an extraordinary African-American family from Civil War to Civil Rights.

Beginning with her great-great grandfather Moses Calhoun, a house slave who used the rare advantage of his education to become a successful businessman in post-war Atlanta, Buckley follows her family’s two branches: one that stayed in the South, and the other that settled in Brooklyn. 

  Carol Goodman is the critically acclaimed author of The Book of Dead Languages and The Seduction of Water.

Her latest, River Road, is a psychological thriller about a college professor accused of killing her favorite student in a hit-and-run accident and the secrets that emerge as she desperately tries to clear her name. 

    

  In her latest novel, After Birth, Elisa Albert writes about motherhood and friendship. The book tells the story of Ari who lives in a town in upstate New York and is supposed to be working on a Ph.D. in women’s studies but she has major postpartum depression.

The book issues a wake-up call to a culture that turns its new mothers into exiles and expects them to act like natives.

  In the heart of the Ottoman Empire as World War I rages, Stepan Miskjian’s world becomes undone. He is separated from his family as they are swept up in the government’s mass deportation of Armenians into internment camps. Gradually realizing the unthinkable—that they are all being driven to their deaths—he fights, through starvation and thirst, not to lose hope. He dons disguises, outmaneuvers gendarmes, and, when he least expects it, encounters the miraculous kindness of strangers.

The Hundred-Year Walk alternates between Stepan’s saga and another journey that takes place a century later, after his family discovers his long-lost journals. With his journals guiding her, Dawn Anahid MacKenn grows ever closer to the man she barely knew as a child.

When Breath Becomes Air

Jan 13, 2016

  At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated.

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.

We speak with Paul's wife, Lucy, about his book and his experience.

  From Shirley Jackson, the peerless author of "The Lottery" and "We Have Always Lived in the Castle," comes a new volume of unpublished and uncollected stories, essays, lectures, letters and drawings.

Let Me Tell You brings together the deliciously eerie short stories Jackson is best known for with frank and inspiring lectures on writing; comic essays she wrote about her large, rowdy family; and revelatory personal letters and drawings.

The collection is edited by Jackson's children, Laurence Jackson Hyman and Sarah Hyman DeWitt. Laurence joins us for this interview.

  Author and former radio host Claude Knobler shared the very beginning of his journey as a parent in this 2008 interview “Life is Wonderfully Ridiculous” for NPR’s This I Believe series: after reading a New York Times magazine story about an orphanage in Ethiopia, he told his wife Mary, that maybe they could help, trying to impress her with his generosity and kind heart, but never really believing she’d say yes.

And so alongside the seven year old son and five year old daughter they already had, Claude and Mary Knobler adopted Nati, a five year old Ethiopian boy who spoke no English to join their family in Los Angeles. That was twelve years ago.

In his book, More Love, Less Panic, Knobler weaves together moving stories about trying to turn his loud, spirited, and “too happy” African son into a quiet, neurotic, Jewish kid like he himself had once been, quickly learning a lesson that made him a better father – not just to Nati, but to all three of his kids.

  The defining voice of the 20th century, Frank Sinatra enjoyed a legendary recording career that spanned six decades, beginning with his earliest session in 1939 and culminating with his last in 1993, for his world-renowned, multi-platinum Duets and Duets II albums.

Ultimate Sinatra presents key recordings spanning the Chairman of the Board's sessions for Columbia, Capitol and Reprise. A new collection, Ultimate Sinatra opens with 'All Or Nothing At All,' recorded with Harry James and his Orchestra on August 31, 1939 during Sinatra's first studio session.

We welcome Frank's youngest daughter, Tina, to the show to discuss her father and this new collection.

Listener Essay - Classical Music Is Playing

Nov 10, 2015

  Jan Allen Pfeifer lives and writes in Woodstock, New York. She is a native of Louisville KY.

Classical Music is Playing

Classical music is playing in the bedroom where my father is dying. I sit alone, next to him. In this liminal space, the music is a soothing companion for both of us. It knows its way.

As I listen, I am transported back to grade school and field trips to Louisville Gardens for orchestra concerts. An amazing feat, moving hundreds of school children downtown like a conveyer belt from all parts of the city, the only common denominator being our grade and the yellow school buses that brought us. Each bus arrives and empties their charges onto Walnut Street in clockwork fashion. Our own trip is short, the hard green vinyl seats still cold against our dangling bare legs. Some of the girls hold hands, the warm considerations of best friends.

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