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.

  As a journalist whose career spans three decades, CNN correspondent Tom Foreman has reported from the heart of war zones, riots, and natural disasters. He has interviewed serial killers and been in the line of fire. But the most terrifying moment of his life didn't occur on the job--it occurred at home, when his 18-year old daughter asked, "How would you feel about running a marathon with me?"

At the time, Foreman was approaching 51 years old, and his last marathon was almost 30 years behind him. The race was just sixteen weeks away, but Foreman reluctantly agreed. Training with his daughter, who had just started college, would be a great bonding experience, albeit a long and painful one.

He joins us to talk about the experience and the book he's written about it, My Year of Running Dangerously: A Dad, a Daughter, and a Ridiculous Plan

  Donna Karan was born into the fashion business—her father was a tailor, and her mother was a showroom model and Seventh Avenue saleswoman—yet Karan dreamed of becoming a dancer like Martha Graham or a singer like Barbra Streisand. Fashion was her destiny, though.

My Journey traces Karan’s early days as an intern at Anne Klein, the creation of her Seven Easy Pieces (which forever changed the way working women dressed), and the meteoric rise of her company. She candidly discusses her difficult mother and traumatic childhood, her turbulent romantic life, all the loved ones she has lost over the years, and the personal awakening that occurred just as she reached the height of professional and financial success.

  Michael “Misha” Gruenbaum enjoyed a carefree childhood playing games and taking walks through Prague with his beloved father. All of that changed forever when the Nazis invaded Prague. The Gruenbaum family was forced to move into the Jewish Ghetto in Prague. Then, after a devastating loss, Michael, his mother and sister were deported to the Terezín concentration camp.

At Terezin, Misha roomed with forty other boys who became like brothers to him. Life in Terezín was a bizarre, surreal balance—some days were filled with friendship and soccer matches, while others brought mortal terror as the boys waited to hear the names on each new list of who was being sent “to the East.”

Those trains were going to Auschwitz. When the day came that his family’s name appeared on a transport list, their survival called for a miracle—one that tied Michael’s fate to a carefully sewn teddy bear, and to his mother’s unshakeable determination to keep her children safe.

George Mitchell

Oct 22, 2015
Chris Colton, Albany Law School

Former U.S. Senator and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell was in our region yesterday, speaking at both Albany law School and Skidmore College. He discussed his new book, The Negotiator: A Memoir, and his experience in brokering the historic 1998 Good Friday Agreement to address the conflict in Northern Ireland.

In addition to his long and storied career in the U.S. Senate, he has also taken on the task of working to bring peace to the conflict in the Middle East and led the investigation into the use of performance enhancing drugs in baseball that culminated in the release of what has come to be known as the Mitchell Report.

  Stephen King calls Abigail Thomas "the Emily Dickinson of memoirists."

Her latest book, What Comes Next and How to Like It, is an extraordinarily moving memoir about many things, but at the center is a steadfast friendship between Abigail Thomas and a man she met thirty-five years ago.

  In 2008, on her second night of college, Aspen Matis was raped by a fellow student. Shattered and alone, she fled to the Mexican border to begin the 2,650 mile walk along the Pacific Crest Trail, through the unforgiving desert and mountains to Canada.

Reminiscent of Alice Sebold’s - Lucky and Cheryl Strayed’s - Wild, Matis has written a searing, yet hopeful story of survival in the wake of a horrific trauma and finding acceptance, hope, and healing in nature.

Girl In The Woods is a memoir of how Aspen’s horror became her salvation…and, yes, she found her future husband by the 2,000 mile mark.

  Eat Pray Love made Elizabeth Gilbert one of the most read and beloved writers of our time. While Eat Pray Love was Gilbert’s personal memoir, many readers took it as stimulus to make changes, large and small, in their own lives.

In the decade since Eat Pray Love was published, people worldwide have sought further advice from Gilbert on how to lead a bold and creative life. Gilbert’s TED talk about creativity has nearly 10 million views, making it one of the most viewed TED talks of all time, and this past fall Gilbert went on tour with Oprah, speaking to over 100,000 people along the way.