Posts tagged with "memoir"

Posted by jdunc on 08/28/15
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In A Lucky Life Interrupted: A Memoir of Hope Tom Brokaw, the incomparable newsman, recounts his struggle with multiple myeloma, an incurable form of blood marrow cancer. He describes how his once active life of fly fishing, horseback riding, camping, and hiking came to a sudden halt in 2013 when constant back pain led to the cancer diagnosis. Ever the reporter, Brokaw recorded his experience while battling cancer and based the memoir off of those notes. While the book centers around the diagnosis, Brokaw does an excellent job of reminiscing on his experience reporting world changing events, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Tiananmen Square massacre, and 9/11. He also showcases a profound love for his wife, children, grandchildren and extended family. Throughout the memoir Brokaw comments on the issues with health care in America, coming to terms with aging, and his own mortality.

The one disappointment with the audiobook was that it was not read by the author. Having watched Brokaw for years on the Nightly News and seen many of his stand alone news pieces, including his wonderful work on the greatest generation it was jarring to hear a voice other than his recount the story. However, Mark Bramhall is an accomplished reader and after the first few tracks his booming voice draws the listener in. It is a poignant memoir from one of America’s most well-known and beloved newsmen.

Posted by Pam S on 10/18/12
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Kim Stagliano is a nationally recognized autism advocate and speaker.  She is also the managing editor of Age of Autism, a daily web newspaper dedicated to autism. 
But, most importantly, Stagliano is in the unique position of being a mother to three girls that have autism.  Obviously, this is not the parenting life that she imagined, but she has embraced this new normal with a fierce sense of purpose.  She is sometimes controversial as she rallies against vaccines and mainstream medicine. Her writing is powerful, sometimes funny and filled with a sense of love above all.

Posted by LucyS on 01/16/16
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Author George Hodgman moved back home to tiny Paris, Missouri, in 2011 where he grew up as an only child to care for his 90-year-old widowed mother, Betty. He describes himself as an unlikely guardian, that his and Betty’s lives were lived on different planets.  Her independence is now at stake, her home. She struggles against needing assistance and George finds that he cannot bring himself to take her away from the house that his father built. So he stays.
So much goes on in any given day’s routine. Betty still plays bridge with her friends and plays the piano at church but irrational arguments erupt over shoes and forgetfulness becomes more frequent. George finds humor is often the best way to deal with this and the role reversal of a child now caring for a parent.
After graduating college, George lived a lifestyle that he knew his parents could not understand. His homosexuality was an issue they avoided because of the way they had been raised to think about people like him. In this story, there is a great deal of contemplation about life, memories, how events turned out, how people treat each other, and how you can trip yourself up and get into trouble – recovery hurts. Families are complex, living things that constantly change but if done right, one constant is love and that is what Betty gave him.
Many readers will be able to relate to the issues George and his mother face in this memoir written with kindness and candor. Other readers may find some of the topics eye-opening as told from George’s point of view.

Posted by mingh on 05/18/11
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Gabrielle Hamilton is the head chef and owner of the popular New York restaurant Prune. The subtitle of this book is "the inadvertent education of a reluctant chef." Hamilton learned much of her cooking from observing her Mother and Father. Her Mother, a French ballet dancer, had to use all parts of whatever she was cooking to make everything last. Hamilton's Father was an artist and sometime theater producer. But the family of five children never had a lot of money. They tried to live off the land as much as possible and her Father even taught Hamilton how to kill a chicken.
You can read a lot of love and admiration in her stories of her parents when she was young. When Hamilton was 13, her parents divorced and everything seemed to fall apart in her life. So much so, that her parents forgot who was watching the youngest children and left them on their own for four weeks at their rural house. The children had been taught a lot of self-sufficiency. It even gave Hamilton enough confidence to walk to town and present herself as a 16 year old waitress for a local restaurant. This sets up a pattern for her life as she confidently starts to reinvent herself as older and more experienced at many different jobs--almost always in the food industry. The catering chapters alone will make you re-think any catering you are needing or wanting.
This is a memoir more than a foodie book. There are some deeper issues in this book that Hamilton presents than just becoming a chef. There is some bitterness, arguably understandable, considering she was basically abandoned by her family at 13 years old. As she grows older, Hamilton makes some interesting choices in her life, she tries to reconnect with her family, and finds in her travels to Italy that food is what can bring people together.

Posted by Katie M on 01/16/18
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Bon Appétempt: A Coming-Of-Age Story (with Recipes!) by Amelia Morris, a 30-something “food” blogger, who writes a popular blog by the same title, is full of funny and charming stories in Morris’ distinctive voice. On her popular blog, PBS has produced her videos, she has won a Saveur food blog award, and her blog has been previously recognized as one of TIMES’s 25 Best Blogs of the Year.

Sharing personal observations about her life and family, she reveals relatable family dramas and growing into who you want to be. Full of thoughtful anecdotes, and a variety of recipes, from her mom’s comfort snack of Toasted Cheerios, to a delicious recipe for lemon pasta from her husband, this is a self-aware coming-of-age memoir. I recommend this book to anyone familiar with her Bon Appétempt blog or who likes modern memoirs.

Posted by Uncle Will on 03/24/17
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Trevor Noah was born in South Africa to a black mother and a white father at the time when a union such as that was a crime under Apartheid rule. Noah's mother had to hide and shelter him for much of his childhood. In a place where Browns were only allowed to live with other Browns; Black only with Blacks; Whites with Whites; etc., a light-skinned African was a beacon of hatred and persecution. Young Noah did not make things easy for his mother, but she taught him to be proud and devout. Most times, she would have to chase him down and beat some sense into him, but his love for her never wavered. This book is humorous and sometimes sad. I had no idea who Noah was before reading this book and wasn't aware that he is a stand-up comic and that he has his own late night TV show in America. Add successful author to his resume. This book has a nice flow to it. I picked it up in our Marketplace just to review it and ended up not being able to put it down. 

Posted by jlasky on 12/05/17
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 Although she says she is “not a reflective person by nature”, Alice Waters is a writer, an advocate and a chef. Her new memoir Coming to My Senses: the Making of a Counter Culture Cook tells a natural, graceful story of her life, and the various paths that led her to open the world- renowned restaurant Chez Panisse. Looking back from her early years in New Jersey, to European travels and eventually landing in Berkeley California, Waters shares tales of a true free spirit who is open to new experiences in all aspects of life. Falling in love with everything French, and finding a passion for organic and locally sourced food, leads her to open the now iconic Chez Panisse. At the age of 26, with no formal training, she embarks on opening a French restaurant with the simple goal of cooking for her friends. Now 46 years later, with dozens of prestigious awards, the restaurant is as strong as ever.  
Since opening, she has been credited with introducing mesculan salad to the US, as well as starting the Edible Schoolyard Project. Her passion and involvement in locally sourced organic food, as well as the Slow Food Movement has changed the way Americans eat. The beauty of a well written memoir is the thrill of being a fly on the wall through an interesting life well lived. This book is one of those.

Posted by Katie M on 05/17/18
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Everything Is Horrible And Wonderful : A Tragicomic Memoir Of Genius, Heroin, Love, And Loss by Stephanie Wittels Wachs is the author’s absorbing account about coping with the death of her brother, Harris Wittels, from a heroin overdose. The book spans the few years between the time that the family learns of Harris’ substance addiction, to the year after his death, and details their attempt to make sense of everything. Stephanie openly discusses how concurrent to Harris’ addiction, she gives birth to a baby with a permanent hearing disability, and writes about the emotional stress of these parallel events.

Stephanie is unflinchingly honest in this memoir, and with her background in education and performance, her audiobook narration is a real standout. I listened on Hoopla, and highly recommend the audio format of the book, as the story, in her voice, is powerful; it’s tender and evocative and her love for her brother and her family is potent.

This is one of those books where you’ll laugh and you'll cry – the humor can be dry and quirky and laugh-out-loud funny (Harris was a professional comedy writer) and the tragic moments incredibly dark – but part of the strength of the story is this concurrent thread of humor and sadness. This book is for those who like modern memoirs, and anyone interested in reading a detailed personal account about addiction and grief, told through the lens of a candid, close-knit family.

Posted by LucyS on 08/07/18
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Author Nina Willner is from a strong family. Forty autumns, forty years of an oppressive, ruthless regime that once in place, no one believed it would ever end. After WWII ended, communism took hold in East Germany; one war morphed into a different kind of war. Eventually, the Berlin Wall went up around the entire perimeter of the city. With such a constant state of fear, oppression, deprivation and suspicion, Nina’s grandmother created a safe haven in their home, a family wall.
Many of us watched on television as the Berlin Wall fell. Nina’s perspective and her family’s first-hand accounts make this story come alive as quite a history lesson. This memoir provides an intense, unique portrait of life behind the Iron Curtain.

Posted by mingh on 03/21/11
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House of Prayer No. 2 : a writer's journey home is the story of writer Mark Richard's growing up as a "special" child because of his disabled legs and mental blocks. Some teachers found him slow, others found him above average. But when everything looks bad along the way he always finds a teacher or mentor who can help him in his journey to become a writer. Some of the mentors are men of faith of different religions. At one point he considers joining an Episcopal seminary. He attends Baptist Services and helps to rehab a Church. But there is a wild ride to go through before he is at that point.
Mark Richards grows up in the South with parents who seemed to have little time for him except to bring him to doctors who all tried to fix his legs. He spent weeks in the Crippled Children's Hospital without his parents at seven years old. Some of the nurses become his close caretakers and he met many friends. But it was still devastatingly lonely.
As a young adult he doesn't know what to do with his life, hitchhiking across the country, sleeping on friend's sofa's and squatting in abandoned homes on the coast. Taking some writing courses he is able to sell stories to such magazines as Esquire and The New Yorker. Not enough to live off of but enough to get noticed. Soon he is off to Hollywood and writing for TV.
This memoir is told in the second person.  It as is if the writer was saying to you, if YOU lived my life YOU would be doing this. YOU would find yourself in a hospital surrounded by other children with disabilities. YOU would wonder how they felt. This can be jarring but it also creates a very immediate experience for the reader.
An interesting memoir about a man who wanted to write, but had to go through a lot of living to get to that point.

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