memoir

  Forty years ago, when a young Ginny Gilder stood on the edge of Boston’s Charles River and first saw a rowing shell in motion, it was love at first sight. Yearning to escape her family history, which included her mother’s emotional unraveling and her father’s singular focus on investment acumen as the ultimate trophy, Gilder discovered rowing at a pivotal moment in her life.

Having grown up in an era when girls were only beginning to abandon the sidelines as observers and cheerleaders to become competitors and national champions, Gilder harbored no dreams of athletic stardom. Once at Yale, however, her operating assumptions changed nearly overnight when, as a freshman in 1975, she found her way to the university’s rowing tanks in the gymnasium’s cavernous basement.

Course Correction: A Story of Rowing and Resilience in the Wake of Title IX recounts the physical and psychological barriers Gilder overcame as she transformed into an elite athlete who reached the highest echelon of her sport and recounts lessons learned from her journey.

  It’s a classic story of the American Dream. George Mitchell grew up in a working class family in Maine, experiencing firsthand the demoralizing effects of unemployment when his father was laid off from a lifelong job. But education was always a household priority, and Mitchell embraced every opportunity that came his way, eventually becoming the ranking Democrat in the Senate during the administrations of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Mitchell looks back at his adventures in law and politics in his memoir, The Negotiator.

  To be a writer, Amitava Kumar says, is to be an observer. The twenty-six essays in Lunch with a Bigot are Kumar's observations of the world put into words. A mix of memoir, reportage, and criticism, the essays include encounters with writers Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy, discussions on the craft of writing, and a portrait of the struggles of a Bollywood actor.

  On May 6, 2013, Amanda Berry made world-wide headlines when she kicked and clawed her way out of a Cleveland home and called 911, saying: “Help me, I’m Amanda Berry. . . I’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been missing for ten years. And I’m here. I’m free now.” So began one of the most remarkable criminal stories of recent times. With an offer of a ride, Ariel Castro, a local school bus driver with a history of domestic violence, separately lured Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight to his run-down West Cleveland house, where he kept them locked and chained in the basement.

In the decade that followed, the three were repeatedly raped, psychologically abused, threatened with death, and often fed one meal a day.

In the new book: Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland by Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporters Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan interweave the events within Castro’s house with original reporting on efforts to find the missing girls.

  Professor Elizabeth Alexander is a poet, essayist, playwright and teacher. She was recently named a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, as well as the inaugural Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University. In 2009, she composed and delivered “Praise Song for the Day” for the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

In her memoir, The Light of the World, she finds herself at an existential crossroads after the sudden death of her husband. She tells a love story that is, itself, a story of loss. She reflects on the beauty of her married life, the trauma resulting from her husband’s death, and the solace found in caring for her two sons.

Twenty years old and in love, Phyllis Chesler embarked on an adventure that lasted more than a half-century. Shortly after arriving in Afghanistan with her Afghan bridegroom, the authorities took away her American passport, and she became the property of her husband’s family.

  Stacey Morris is a journalist and food writer, who has been working in this region for many years. Her latest project is a cookbook-memoir, Clean Comfort, which tells the story of the author's rocky relationship with food, how the dieting hamster wheel ballooned her weight to 345 pounds, and how she ultimately made her way back to balance and sanity - while loving food.

  Four weeks before their graduation, Kevin Schaeffer walked author Amy Butcher to her home in their college town of Gettysburg, PA. Hours after parting ways with Butcher, Kevin fatally stabbed his ex-girlfriend, Emily Silverstein. He waited forty minutes, then called the police and met them outside.

Psychiatrists would later conclude that Kevin has suffered a "psychotic break" on the night he killed Emily. Butcher was severely affected by Kevin's crime, but remained devoted to him as a friend, writing him monthly. Over time, she grew determined to prove that what Kevin did had not only been unintentional, but unconscious.

She write about the experience in her book, Visiting Hours: A Memoir of Friendship and Murder.

  Burned-out after years of doing development work around the world, William Powers spent a season in a 12-foot-by-12-foot cabin off the grid in North Carolina, as recounted in his award-winning memoir Twelve by Twelve.

Could he live a similarly minimalist life in the heart of New York City? To find out, Powers and his wife jettisoned 80 percent of their stuff, left their 2,000-square-foot Queens townhouse, and moved into a 350-square-foot “micro-apartment” in Greenwich Village. Downshifting to a two-day workweek, Powers explores the viability of Slow Food and Slow Money, technology fasts and urban sanctuaries in his new book, New Slow City: Living Simply In The World's Fastest City.

  Nearly twenty-five years ago, Nicholson Baker published U and I, the fretful and handwringing—but also groundbreaking—tale of his literary relationship with John Updike.

U and I inspired a whole sub-genre of engaging, entertaining writing about reading, but what no story of this type has ever done is tell its tale from the moment of conception, that moment when you realize that there is a writer out there in the world that you must read—so you read them.

B & Me is that story, the story of J.C. Hallman discovering and reading Nicholson Baker, and discovering himself in the process.

Pages