memoir

  When Diana Nyad arrived on the shore of Key West after fifty-three hours of grueling swimming across an epic ocean, she not only set a world record—becoming the first person to swim the shark-infested waters between Cuba and Florida with no cage for protection—she also succeeded in fulfilling a dream she first chased at age twenty-eight and at long last achieved when she was sixty-four.  

Her memoir, Find a Way: The Inspiring Story of One Woman's Pursuit of a Lifelong Dream, is now available in paperback.

  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.

Moby's Memoir

May 25, 2016

  There were many reasons Moby was never going to make it as a DJ and musician in the New York club scene. This was the New York of unchecked, drug-fueled hedonism in pumping clubs where dance music was still largely underground, popular chiefly among working-class African Americans and Latinos.

And then there was Moby—not just a poor, skinny white kid from Connecticut, but a devout Christian, a vegan, and a teetotaler. He would learn what it was to be spat on, to live on almost nothing. But it was perhaps the last good time for an artist to live on nothing in New York City: the age of AIDS and crack but also of a defiantly festive cultural underworld. Not without drama, he found his way.

But success was not uncomplicated; it led to wretched excess and proved all too fleeting. And so by the end of the decade, Moby contemplated an end in his career and elsewhere in his life, and put that emotion into what he assumed would be his swan song, his good-bye to all that, the album that would in fact be the beginning of an astonishing new phase: the multimillion-selling Play.

Moby's new memoir is entitled, Porcelain.


  Comedian, musician, and radio-host, Dave Hill has a new collection of humorous essays out from Blue Rider Press entitled: Dave Hill Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.

The follow-up to 2012’s Tasteful Nudes: ...and Other Misguided Attempts at Personal Growth and Validation, Dave Hill Doesn’t Live Anymore explores his increasingly close relationship with his recently widowed father -- and also shares his stories of baffling excitement and comic horror while visiting a Mexican prison, getting a bottle or urine thrown at him by a homeless person, and working for Donald Trump for a day.

  Augusten Burroughs is the author of such best-selling autobiographical works as Running with Scissors, Dry, and Magical Thinking.

His latest is called Lust & Wonder in which he chronicles the development and demise of the different relationships he's had while living in New York, he examines what it means to be in love, what it means to be in lust, and what it means to be figuring it out.

  It started as a far-fetched idea—to hike the entire length of the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline—eventually became a plan. In September 2012, inspired not only to draw attention to global warming but also to explore his personal limits, Ken Ilgunas strapped on his backpack, stuck out his thumb on the interstate just north of Denver, and hitchhiked 1,500 miles north to the Alberta, Canada oil sands.

Then he turned around and began a 1,700 mile trek, hiking—nearly entirely on foot—to the XL pipeline's endpoint in Port Arthur, Texas. And this wasn’t a manicured trail: he walked almost exclusively on private property, mostly on the wide-open, half-wild pasture and farming fields of Alberta, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

The resulting book, Trespassing Across America: One Man’s Epic, Never-Done-Before, and Sort of Illegal Hike Across the Heartland, is a meditation on climate change, the beauty of the natural world, and the physical and mental extremes to which we can push ourselves.

  Gone with the Mind is Mark Leyner’s latest novel – in which a character named Mark Leyner is to give a reading from his autobiography, also entitled Gone with the Mind, in a mall food court. 

  Half a century after walking on the moon, iconic astronaut Buzz Aldrin reflects on a lifetime of achievements and what he’s learned through it all in his new book, No Dream Is Too High: Life Lessons from a Man Who Walked on the Moon. Aldrin, speaks intimately and from the heart, sharing his experiences in space, in war, and as a public figure.

Buzz Aldrin, best known for his Apollo 11 moonwalk, holds a doctoral degree in astronautics and, at age 86, continues to wield influence as an international advocate of space science and planetary exploration.

  It has long been assumed that people living with autism are born with the diminished ability to read the emotions of others, even as they feel emotion deeply. But what if we’ve been wrong all this time? What if that “missing” emotional insight was there all along, locked away and inaccessible in the mind?

In 2007 John Elder Robison wrote the international bestseller Look Me in the Eye, a memoir about growing up with Asperger’s syndrome. Amid the blaze of publicity that followed, he received a unique invitation: Would John like to take part in a study led by one of the world’s foremost neuroscientists, who would use an experimental new brain therapy known as TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation, in an effort to understand and then address the issues at the heart of autism? Switched On is the story of what happened next.

  Augusten Burroughs is the author of the autobiographical works Running with Scissors, Dry, Magical Thinking, Possible Side Effects and A Wolf at the Table, all of which were New York Times bestsellers. Running with Scissors remained on the New York Times bestseller list for over two consecutive years and was made into a Golden Globe-nominated film starring Annette Bening.

His only novel, Sellevision, is currently in development as a series for NBC. Dry, Augusten's memoir of his alcoholism and recovery, is being developed by Showtime. In addition, Burroughs is currently creating an original prime-time series for CBS. Augusten's latest book is called Lust & Wonder.

In it, he chronicles the development and demise of the different relationships he's had while living in New York, he examines what it means to be in love, what it means to be in lust, and what it means to be figuring it all out. He will be speaking about and signing the book in our region next Wednesday – April 13th at 7 p.m. at the Northshire Book Store in Saratoga Springs, NY.

  Josh Rosenthal is a unique, compelling individual who left his big time job in the hallowed halls of the music industry to start an independent, boutique label, Tompkins Square Records, focusing on reissues of important but overlooked roots artists and new records by both icons and Americana up and comers.

He developed his taste, in part, while living in Albany and attending the university in the 1980s. His new book, The Record Store of the Mind, even features scenes at the city’s legendary punk haunt, QE2, as well as Valentine’s, where he re-discovered Charlie Louvin, eventually launching the country music pioneer on a second career. It is part memoir, part listening list and an inspirational read for anyone with ear for the winding stream of American music.

Rosenthal will read from his book at 7PM tonight in the Local History Room of the Albany Public Library - the Washington Avenue Branch in Albany.

  In 1965 George Gmelch signed a contract to play professional baseball with the Detroit Tigers organization. Growing up sheltered in an all-white, affluent San Francisco suburb, he knew little of the world outside. Over the next four seasons, he came of age in baseball’s Minor Leagues through experiences ranging from learning the craft of the professional game to becoming conscious of race and class for the first time.

Playing with Tigers is not a typical baseball memoir. Now a well-known anthropologist at Union College, Gmelch recounts a baseball education unlike any other as he got to know small-town life across the United States against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, civil rights protests, and the emergence of the counterculture. The social and political turmoil of the times spilled into baseball, and Gmelch experienced the consequences firsthand as he played out his career in the Jim Crow South.

Drawing from journals he kept as a player, letters, and recent interviews with thirty former teammates, coaches, club officials, and even former girlfriends, Gmelch immerses the reader in the life of the Minor Leagues, capturing—in a manner his unique position makes possible—the universal struggle of young athletes trying to make their way.

  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.

  All her life, Emily has felt different from other kids. Between therapist visits, sudden uncontrollable bursts of anger, and unexplained episodes of dizziness and loss of coordination, things have always felt not right. For years, her only escape was through the stories she’d craft about herself and the world around her. But it isn’t until a near-fatal accident when she’s twelve years old that Emily and her family discover the truth: a grapefruit sized benign brain tumor at the base of her skull.

In her memoir, All Better Now, Emily Wing Smith chronicles her struggles with both mental and physical disabilities during her childhood, the devastating accident that may have saved her life, and the means by which she coped with it all: writing.

  Growing up in the rough outskirts of northern Dublin at a time when joining the guards, the army, or the civil service was the height of most parents’ ambitions for their children, Luke Waters knew he was destined for a career in some sort of law enforcement. Dreaming of becoming a police officer, Waters immigrated to the United States in search of better employment opportunities and joined the NYPD.

In NYPD Green Waters offers a gripping and fascinating account filled with details from real criminal cases involving murder, theft, gang violence, and more, and takes you into the thick of the danger and scandal of life as a New York cop—both on and off the beat.

  Brooke Shields never had what anyone would consider an ordinary life. She was raised by her single mom, Teri, a woman who loved the world of show business and was often a media sensation all by herself. Brooke's iconic modeling career began by chance when she was only eleven months old, and Teri's skills as both Brooke's mother and manager were formidable. But in private she was troubled and drinking heavily.

In There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me, Shields tells her story of the remarkable, difficult, complicated woman who was her mother.

  Lauren Weedman is living what should be the good life in sunny Los Angeles. She has a great career, a loving husband, and an adorable baby boy, but she finds herself starring in a tabloid-worthy nightmare: she’s a Hollywood actress whose husband has an affair with their babysitter. Her new book telling her story is: Miss Fortune: Fresh Perspectives on Having it All from Someone who is NOT Okay.

Weedman is an award-winning comedic actress, playwright and author. Her television credits include The Daily Show, True Blood, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development and HBO's Looking. Weedman's first book was A Woman Trapped in a Woman's Body: Tales from a Life of Cringe. She is the host of the popular Moth Storytelling series in LA.

  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.

  David Kaczynski, brother of the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski joins us this morning for an extended segment to talk about his new book, Every Last Tie.

David Kaczynski will be at the Open Door Book Store and Gift Gallery in Schenectady from Noon to 1:30pm today for a discussion and book signing. 

In August 1995 David Kaczynski's wife Linda asked him a difficult question: "Do you think your brother Ted is the Unabomber?" He couldn't be, David thought. But as the couple pored over the Unabomber's seventy-eight-page manifesto, David couldn't rule out the possibility. It slowly became clear to them that Ted was likely responsible for mailing the seventeen bombs that killed three people and injured many more. Wanting to prevent further violence, David made the agonizing decision to turn his brother in to the FBI.

Every Last Tie is David's highly personal and powerful memoir of his family, as well as a meditation on the possibilities for reconciliation and maintaining family bonds. David, formerly of Schenectady, served as assistant director at Equinox in Albany, a shelter for runaways and homeless youths. He also served as Executive Director of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty and more recently as Director of a Tibetan Buddhist monastery.

Photo of Piper Kerman
Brian Bowen Smith

  Piper Kerman was a 24 year old Smith College graduate in 1993 when she flew to Belgium with a suitcase of money intended for a West African drug lord. This misguided adventure started when she began a romantic relationship with the woman involved in a drug smuggling ring and got Kerman got involved too, though Kerman left that life after several months.

Five years later she was named as part of the drug ring and in February 2008 she reported to the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut. Kerman’s memoir Orange is the New Black: My Year in Women’s Prison inspired the award winning Netflix television series of the same name. She will deliver the Alex Krieger Memorial Lecture at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie on Tuesday February 9th.

  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.

  Award-winning actress Drew Barrymore shares funny, insightful, and profound stories from her past and present told from the place of happiness she's achieved today in her new memoir, Wildflower.

In the book, she looks back on the adventures, challenges, and incredible experiences of her earlier years. It includes tales of living on her own at 14, saying goodbye to her father in a way only he could have understood, and many more adventures and lessons that have led her to the successful, happy, and healthy place she is today.

It is the first book Drew has written about her life since the age of 14.

  In her first book in over 20 years, Gloria Steinem -- writer, activist, and organizer -- offers a candid account of how her early years led her to an on-the-road kind of life: traveling, listening to people, learning, and creating change. 

In My Life on the Road, Steinem writes about some of the extraordinary people, famous and not, from whom she has learned along the way. She also reflects on how the most transformative ideas sometimes come from unexpected people and encounters. 

Gloria Steinem co-founded Ms. magazine and helped found New York magazine. In 2013, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. 

We spoke with Gloria Steinem last night -- as news was emerging from San Bernadino -- about her initial reaction to last week's deadly shooting in Colorado Springs, where Richard Dear has been charged with three counts of murder for killing a responding police officer and two others who were inside a Planned Parenthood facility there. 

  Fredrick Forsyth has been writing extraordinary novels of intrigue for almost forty years from the groundbreaking The Day of The Jackal to The Kill List.  Now Frederick Forsyth tells the story of his own remarkable life filled with events that, in many cases, inspired his fifteen novels. His new book is The Outsider: My Life In Intrigue.

  David Hare has long been one of England's best known playwrights and dramatists. He's the author of more than thirty acclaimed plays that have appeared on Broadway, in the West End, and the National Theater. He wrote the screenplays for the hugely successful films The Hours, Plenty, and The Reader. Most recently, his play Skylight won the 2015 Tony Award for Best Revival on Broadway.

His new work, The Blue Touch Paper, offers an account of becoming a writer amid the enormous flux of postwar England. He takes us from his university days at Cambridge to the swinging 1960s, when he confounded the influential Portable Theatre in London and took a memorable road trip across America, to his breakthrough successes as a playwright.

  At a time when colleagues were hitting their mid-career strides, Steve Lobel was mired in failure. On the brink of bankruptcy, Lobel had no income, no savings, no job, no career-and, it seemed, no future. The business he had purchased twenty months earlier had collapsed, a misfortune he had brought largely on himself by breaking every rule of sound business.

This was the same man who a few years before had opened the gourmet market Cowan & Lobel in Albany, New York, only to lose the store at the height of its success.

  Credited with sparking the current memoir explosion, Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club spent more than a year at the top of the New York Times list. She followed with two other smash bestsellers: Cherry and Lit, which were critical hits as well. For thirty years Karr has also taught the form, winning teaching prizes at Syracuse.

In The Art of Memoir, she synthesizes her expertise as professor and therapy patient, writer and spiritual seeker, recovered alcoholic and “black belt sinner,” providing a unique window into the mechanics and art of the form that is as irreverent, insightful, and entertaining as her own work in the genre.

Norman Lear is a legendary broadcast pioneer, known for creating some of the most acclaimed and top-rated television series of all time. His iconic shows include: All in the Family, Good Times, The Jeffersons, Maude, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, One Day at a Time, and Sanford & Son.

Story lines in his show addressed subjects that were not typically discussed on TV at the time like racism, abortion, homophobia, class struggles and politics. Lear has won four Emmy Awards and was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. He is also the founder of People For the American Way.

His memoir, Even This I Get To Experience is now out in paperback.

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