Sandra Allen did not know her uncle Bob very well. As a child, she had been told he was “crazy,” that he had spent time in mental hospitals while growing up in Berkeley in the 60s and 70s. But Bob had lived a hermetic life in a remote part of California for longer than she had been alive, and what little she knew of him came from rare family reunions or odd, infrequent phone calls.

Then in 2009 Bob mailed her his autobiography. Typewritten in all caps, a stream of error-riddled sentences over sixty, single-spaced pages, the often incomprehensible manuscript proclaimed to be a “true story” about being “labeled a psychotic paranoid schizophrenic,” and arrived with a plea to help him get his story out to the world.

In "A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise," Allen translates her uncle’s autobiography, creating a gripping coming-of-age story while sticking faithfully to the facts as he shared them.

Jimmy Webb’s words have been sung to his music by a rich and deep roster of pop artists, including Glen Campbell, Art Garfunkel, Frank Sinatra, Donna Summer and Linda Ronstadt. He’s the only artist ever to win Grammy Awards for music, lyrics, and orchestration, and his chart-topping career has, so far, lasted fifty years, most recently with a Kanye West rap hit and a new classical nocturne.

He joined us to talk about his memoir, "The Cake and The Rain." 

Mamrie Hart is an actress, comedian, and New York Times bestselling author who established a presence in the pop culture zeitgeist with her hit YouTube channel, You Deserve a Drink.

Reaching more than three million followers across her social media channels and more than eighty-four million views on YouTube, Mamrie's influence as a creator earned her a position on Variety's annual list of Hollywood's New Leaders 2016 and a spot on The Hollywood Reporter's 2017 Digital Disrupters list.

Mamrie’s new essay collection is "I’ve Got This Round: More Tales of Debauchery."

  Anjali Kumar, a pragmatic lawyer for Google, was part of a rapidly growing population in America: highly spiritual but religiously uncommitted. But when her daughter was born, she became compelled to find God - or at least some kind of enlightenment. 

Convinced that traditional religions were not a fit for her, and knowing that she couldn't simply Google an answer to "What is the meaning of life?", Kumar set out on a spiritual pilgrimage, looking for answers--and nothing was off limits or too unorthodox. She headed to the mountains of Peru to learn from the shamans, attended the techie haunt of Burning Man, practiced transcendental meditation, convened with angels, and visited saints, goddesses, witches, and faith healers.

Her book is "Stalking God: My Unorthodox Search for Something to Believe In."

Through his roles as a "Daily Show" Correspondent, Deranged Millionaire, the PC to Justin Long’s Mac, and his own bestselling books, the real John Hodgman has always remained hidden: a mystery wrapped beneath his signature dry, absurdist wit (and a moustache or beard, depending on the year).

But now -- for the first time -- he turns to the truth, exposing his real-life roles as a father, husband, and hater of fudge. He’s the first to admit that his path to success has been a strange one, and he’s the best person to explain why. 

His new book: "Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches," follows his journeys as a very citified only child nerd, navigating wildernesses where he does not belong. 

Finding Magic

Nov 21, 2017

Author, journalist, television commentator, and longtime Washington insider Sally Quinn reflects on the spiritual quest that has brought deeper meaning to her life—and kept her grounded within the high-powered political world of Washington, D.C.’s elite—her renowned writing career, her celebrity marriage, and her legendary role as doyenne of the capital’s social scene.

In this emotionally involving, illuminating memoir, the legendary Washington Post journalist talks candidly about her life at the white-hot center of power and the surprising spiritual quest that has driven her for more than half a century.

Her newest book is Finding Magic: A Spiritual Memoir. 

David Hallberg, the first American to join the famed Bolshoi Ballet as a principal dancer and the dazzling artist The New Yorker described as “the most exciting male dancer in the western world,” joins us this morning to tell us about his new memoir, A Body of Work: Dancing to the Edge and Back.

The book brings us through his artistic life up to the moment he returns to the stage after a devastating injury almost cost him his career.

David Hallberg is a Principal Dancer with American Ballet Theatre in New York. He continues to dance around the world and is a Resident Guest Artist with The Australian Ballet. He has also started the David Hallberg Scholarship, mentoring young aspiring boys in a career in ballet, and the Innovation Initiative, a platform for emerging choreographers, both at American Ballet Theatre. 

Adam Gopnik’s new memoir, At the Strangers’ Gate: Arrivals in New York, is a memoir that captures the romance of New York City in the 1980’s.

The book is essentially a prequel to Adam’s bestseller, Paris to the Moon, and documents his early adventures in the 1980’s in NYC with his wife. 

Mayhem: A Memoir

Sep 26, 2017

In the summer of 2012 a woman named Eva was found dead in the London townhouse she shared with her husband, Hans K. Rausing. The couple had struggled with drug addiction for years, often under the glare of tabloid headlines. Now, writing with singular clarity and restraint, Hans’ sister, the editor and publisher Sigrid Rausing, tries to make sense of what happened. 

In Mayhem, she asks the difficult questions those close to the world of addiction must face. “Who can help the addict, consumed by a shaming hunger, a need beyond control? There is no medicine: the drugs are the medicine. And who can help their families, so implicated in the self-destruction of the addict? Who can help when the very notion of ‘help’ becomes synonymous with an exercise of power; a familial police state; an end to freedom, in the addict’s mind?”

Sigrid Rausing is the founder of the Sigrid Rausing Trust. She is also the owner of Granta magazine and Granta Books. Her book is titled Mayhem: A Memoir. 

Loudon Wainwright III, the son of esteemed Life magazine columnist Loudon Wainwright, Jr., is the patriarch of one of America’s great musical families. He is the former husband of Kate McGarrigle and Suzzy Roche, and father of Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, Lucy Wainwright Roche, and Lexie Kelly Wainwright. With a career spanning more than four decades, Wainwright has established himself as one of the most enduring singer-songwriters who emerged from the late 1960s. Not only does he perform regularly across America and in Europe, but he is a sought-after actor, having appeared in many movies and TV series.

There is probably no singer-songwriter who has so blatantly inserted himself into his songs. The songs can be laugh-out-loud funny, but they also can cut to the bone. In this memoir, Wainwright details the family history his lyrics have referenced and the fractured relationships among generations: the alcoholism, the infidelities, the competitiveness—as well as the closeness, the successes, and the joy. Wainwright reflects on the experiences that have influenced his work, including boarding school, the music business, swimming, macrobiotics, sex, incarceration, and something he calls Sir Walter Raleigh Syndrome.

Loudon Wainwright III's new book is titled Liner Notes: On Parents & Children, Exes & Excess, Death & Decay, & A Few Of My Other Favorite Things.

Mark Lukach is a teacher and freelance writer. His work has been published in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Pacific Standard, Wired, and other publications. He is currently the ninth grade dean at The Athenian School, where he also teaches history.

Mark and Giulia’s life together began as a storybook romance. They fell in love at eighteen, married at twenty-four, and were living their dream life in San Francisco. When Giulia was twenty-seven, she suffered a terrifying and unexpected psychotic break that landed her in the psych ward for nearly a month. One day she was vibrant and well-adjusted; the next she was delusional and suicidal, convinced that her loved ones were not safe.

Mark recounts their experience in My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward: A Memoir.

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich’s new book, The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir, is inspired by her time at a law firm in Louisiana working on the retrial defense of death-row convicted murderer and child molester Ricky Langley. She shows how ''the law is more personal than we would like to believe and the truth more complicated, and powerful, than we could ever imagine.''

During the course of his life, Malachy McCourt practically invented the single's bar; was a pioneer in talk radio, a soap opera star, a best-selling author; a gold smuggler, a political activist, and a candidate for governor of the state of New York. 

It seems that the only two things he hasn't done are stick his head into a lion's mouth and die. Since he is allergic to cats, he decided to write about the great hereafter and answer the question on most minds: What's so great about it anyhow? 

Senator Al Franken has represented the State of Minnesota in the US Senate since 2009. Before entering politics, he was one of the original writers and performers on Saturday Night Live.

He is also a best-selling author. His new book is Al Franken, Giant of the Senate where he tells the story of an award-winning comedian who decided to run for office and discovered why award-winning comedians tend not to do that. 

Journalist and cultural critic Kate Bolick is back with another season of Touchstones: Conversations at The Mount in Lenox, MA. On Thursday afternoon, Kate will be having an intimate conversation with author Lee Siegel about his memoir, The Draw.

The book tells the story of the unforgiving sovereignty of money. Hoping to make a killing in New Jersey real estate, Lee’s dad Monroe Siegel, takes a draw from his employer against unearned commission. When the recession hits in the 1970s, Monroe finds himself owing a small fortune to his firm.

He sinks toward divorce and bankruptcy, while Lola, Lee's mother, suffers a nervous breakdown that turns her into a different person. Shamed and enraged by his father's fate, Lee grows up wondering what society owes a person who has failed materially but preserved his humanity.

Journalist and cultural critic Kate Bolick is back with another season of Touchstones: Conversations at The Mount. This Thursday - May 25th – Kate will have an intimate conversation with author Ariel Levy about her new work, The Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir.

Ariel Levy joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2008, and received the National Magazine Award for Essays and Criticism in 2014 for her piece “Thanksgiving in Mongolia.” She is the author of the book Female Chauvinist Pigs, and was a contributing editor at New York for twelve years.

On January 14, 2015, rock climber Tommy Caldwell, along with his partner Kevin Jorgeson, summited what is widely regarded as the hardest climb in history - Yosemite’s nearly vertical 3,000-foot Dawn Wall.

After an arduous nineteen-day ascent, Caldwell and Jorgeson were the first to summit it without the assistance of ropes, other than to catch their falls. Caldwell’s odds-defying feat was the culmination of an entire lifetime of pushing himself to his limits as an athlete. In his new memoir The Push, he shares his story.

The Jewish Federation Connecting with Community series presents The Butcher's Daughter: Echoes of the Shoah with author and published poet, Florence Grende on Monday April 24th.

Grende offers a gripping, at times haunting, family history by the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. The Butchers Daughter is an account of the devastation of war and the marks left on the succeeding generation. 

John Oates was born at the perfect time, paralleling the birth of rock ‘n roll. Raised in a small Pennsylvania town, he was exposed to folk, blues, soul, and R&B. Meeting and teaming up with Daryl Hall in the late 1960s, they developed a style of music that was uniquely their own but never abandoned their roots.

In Change of Seasons: A Memoir, John uncovers the grit and struggle it took to secure a recording contract with the legendary Atlantic Records and chronicles the artistic twists and turns that resulted in a DJ discovering an obscure album track that would become their first hit record.

In her memoir, Whip Smart, Melissa Febos laid bare the intimate world of the professional dominatrix, turning an honest examination of her life into a study of power, desire, and fulfillment.

Abandon Me explores the bonds of love and the need for connection -- with family, lovers, and oneself. First, her birth father, who left her with only an inheritance of addiction and Native American blood, its meaning a mystery. Meanwhile, she remains closely tied to the sea captain who raised her, his parenting ardent but intermittent as his work took him away for months at a time.

Woven throughout is the hypnotic story of an all-consuming, long-distance love affair with a woman, marked equally by worship and withdrawal. Abandon Me draws on childhood stories, religion, psychology, mythology, popular culture, and the intimacies of one writer's life to reveal intellectual and emotional truths that feel startlingly universal. Melissa Febos has two events in our region and joins us this morning.

John Simpson is the former chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, where he helped take the dictionary online.

His new book, The Word Detective: Searching for the Meaning of It All at the Oxford English Dictionary, is an intensely personal memoir and a joyful celebration of English, he weaves a story of how words come into being (and sometimes disappear), how culture shapes the language we use, and how technology has transformed not only the way we speak and write but also how words are made.

When Stéphane Gerson’s eight year old son, Owen, died in a rafting accident, he found himself in uncharted territory. In the weeks that followed, he started to write about life without his son. Eventually, those writings took shape as the new book, Disaster Falls: A Family Story. 

When feminist writer Susan Faludi learned that her 76-year-old father ― long estranged and living in Hungary ― had undergone sex reassignment surgery, she was set on an investigation that would turn personal and urgent.

How was this new parent who identified as “a complete woman now” connected to the silent, explosive, and ultimately violent father she had known, the photographer who’d built his career on the alteration of images?

Elizabeth Lesser, cofounder of Omega Institute and the Omega Women's Leadership Center, is author of The Seeker's Guide and Broken Open.

Her new memoir is Marrow, a visceral and profound memoir of two sisters who, in the face of a bone marrow transplant—one the donor and one the recipient—begin a quest for acceptance, authenticity, and most of all, love.

Matt Haig is a British author for children and adults. His memoir Reasons to Stay Alive was a number one bestseller, staying in the British top ten for 46 weeks. His children's book A Boy Called Christmas was a runaway hit in his own country and is translated in over 25 languages.

We also speak with him about Reasons to Stay Alive - his memoir about how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again. 

Following on the heels of his New York Times bestselling Telegraph Avenue, Michael Chabon – who won the Pulitzer Prize for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay – delivers his latest, Moonglow, a novel of truth and lies, family legends, and existential adventure. 

Peak Joel McHale

Dec 13, 2016

For years, Joel McHale’s stand-up performances have sold out venues across the country, and his role in the beloved cult series Community and as the host of E!’s The Soup have made him a household name in comedy and pop culture.

He currently stars in the new CBS comedy The Great Indoors which is about an adventure reporter for an outdoor magazine when he becomes the desk-bound boss to a team of millennials in the magazine's digital department. 

McHale's submission to the vast world of celebrity tell-all books is Thanks for the Money: How to Use My Life Story to Become the Best Joel McHale You Can Be.

Tara Clancy was raised in three wildly divergent homes: a converted boat shed in working class Queens, a geriatric commune of feisty, Brooklyn-born Italians, and a sprawling Hamptons estate she visited every other weekend.

This childhood triptych comes to life in her new memoir, The Clancys of Queens.

Former three-time major league baseball all-star Ralph Branca has died at 90. Branca had an 11-year career in the bigs including stints with the Tigers and Yankees, but he is best remembered for a landmark moment in New York baseball. Pitching for the Brooklyn Dodgers in a 1951 playoff, Branca gave up the “Shot Heard Round The World” — Bobby Thomson’s home run that sent the New York Giants to the World Series. Years later, Branca and Thomson made peace. But as Branca explained in an interview with WAMC in 2011, it eventually emerged that Thomson had received help stealing the Dodgers’ signs in an elaborate scheme. We spoke with him about his memoir A Moment in Time: An American Story of Baseball, Heartbreak, and Grace.

Young, searching, fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed fifty dollars from his father and launched a company with one simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost running shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the trunk of his Plymouth Valiant, Knight grossed eight thousand dollars that first year, 1963.

Today, Nike’s annual sales top $30 billion. In this age of start-ups, Knight’s Nike is the gold standard, and its swoosh is more than a logo. A symbol of grace and greatness, it’s one of the few icons instantly recognized in every corner of the world.

Phil Knight's new book is Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike.