Growing up in a small river town in Illinois, Diane Johnson always dreamed of floating down the Mississippi and off to see the world. Years later, at home in France, a French friend teases her: “Indifference to history—that’s why you Americans seem so naïve and don’t really know where you’re from.”
In her new memoir, Flyover Lives, Johnson explores the Midwest and the family’s history. In digging around, she discovered letters and memoirs written by generations of stalwart pioneer ancestors.
David Menasche lived for his work as a high school English teacher. When a six-year battle with brain cancer ultimately stole David’s vision, memory, mobility, and—most tragically of all—his ability to continue teaching, he was devastated by the thought that he would no longer have the chance to impact his students’ lives each day.
The daughter of a widowed child psychologist and parenting author, Jessica Lamb-Shapiro grew up immersed in the culture of self-help, of books and pamphlets and board games and gadgets and endless jargon-filled conversations about feelings.
It wasn’t until she hit her thirties that Jessica began to wonder: if all this self-improvement arcana was as helpful as it promised to be, why wasn’t she better adjusted? She had a flying phobia, hadn’t settled down, and didn’t like to talk about her feelings.
Simon Winchester has never shied away from big, even enormous, topics—as evidenced by his bestselling biography of the Atlantic Ocean, his account of the Krakatoa volcanic eruption, and his wildly popular The Professor and the Madman, about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary.
In his new memoir, The Man with the Electrified Brain, he takes on arguably his most daunting subject yet: his own flirtation with madness, and one of nature’s greatest and most enduring mysteries, the human brain.
Christa Parravani is a photographer, capital region native, and author of the acclaimed new memoir, Her: A Memoir about the life and early death of her identical twin, Cara. For several years after her identical twin died of a drug overdose in 2006, Christa would look in the mirror and see her sister's face staring back at her. No matter where she went, she could not escape the image of her twin.
Having recalled his life through the story of his physical self in Winter Journal, novelist Paul Auster now remembers the experience of his development from within through the encounters of his interior self with the outer world in Report from the Interior.
Rob Delaney is one of the rare people whose time spent on Twitter has helped his career. Before he was making money as a comedian, he was sending out 140 character or less jokes like “Imagine a shark. Terrified yet? Well you will be when I tell you that THE SHARK IS MADE OF GLUTEN!” and “The hour I lose from daylight savings time will now be multiplied by 6 as I try to change the time on the clock in my car.” and many others not exactly suitable for radio.
His twitter-persona is primarily brash, irreverent, and fearless. His memoir is funny - but also stuffed with thoughtful reflections on too-real experiences. And then - as you can count on from any good comedian - funny again.
Abigail Thomas joins us along with Barbara Sarah, a breast cancer survivor, and one of book’s 15 contributors who founded the Oncology Support Program. We are also joined by two other contributors: Carol Dwyer and Craig Mawhirt.
In it, she tells the story of her eccentric, fractured family; her 1980s childhood of bohemian neglect in the squalid attic of Rokeby, the family’s Hudson Valley Mansion; and her escape from the clan. Aldrich reaches back to the Gilded Age when the Astor legacy began to come undone, leaving the Aldrich branch of the family penniless and squabbling over what was left.