Archive for the ‘Memoirs’ Category

The Book

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

Mozart in the JungleThe surprise winner of two Golden Globes last week, for Best TV Comedy or Musical as well as for Best Actor in the same category, was Amazon’s series, Mozart in the Jungle. Amazon streamed both seasons of the series for free over the weekend, bringing new viewers (and taking the opportunity to offer special discounted subscriptions to Amazon Prime).

Even those familiar with the series may not realize that it is based on the 2005 memoir of the same title by oboist Blair Tindal detailing the highs and lows of her adventures in New York’s classical music world. Subtitled Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music it was a gossiped-about book among fellow musicians. Interviewing the author at the time, Entertainment Weekly, referred to it as a “hoity-toity version of VH1’s Behind the Music.” As the NYT writes this week, that fascination has been revived by the show.

With all this attention, expect to hear soon that Mozart has been renewed for a third season.

Season One trailer:

Season Two trailer:


Monday, January 18th, 2016

9780812988406_4079cPoised to  break onto the bestseller lists is Paul Kalanithi’s memoir, When Breath Becomes Air, (PRH/Random House; BOT; OverDrive Sample).

It begins at the moment the author, a neurosurgeon finally completing over a decade of training, learns that his life, put on hold for so long, might very well end decades sooner than anyone would expect.

On the NYT’s Book Review podcast, Greg Cowles, who oversees the bestseller lists, hints that it is likely to hit the list next week and notes that it has been getting a lot of attention.

Indeed it has.

Janet Maslin, reviewing it for the daily NYT calls it “unmissable” and says:

“Dr. Kalanithi, who died at 37, went on to write a great, indelible book … To paraphrase Abraham Verghese’s introduction, to read this book is to feel that Dr. Kalanithi still lives, with enormous power to influence the lives of others even though he is gone … I guarantee that finishing this book and then forgetting about it is simply not an option.”

Entertainment Weekly gives it a A-, remarking that its “unsentimental approach” gives the book its power:

“There’s no redemption here. Kalanithi died before he finished the book, leaving his wife Lucy to write a beautiful but painful epilogue. In the few hundred pages he completed, he chronicles his transition from doctor to patient with an acute clinical eye … Its only fault is that the book, like his life, ends much too early.”

The Washington Post calls it “an emotional investment well worth making” and as we reported earlier, it is an Indie Next pick for January as well. It is also an Amazon Best Book for January, where it is currently holds the #4 spot as the site’s bestselling book list.

Libraries bought it conservatively and as a result holds lists are skyrocketing past a 3:1 ratio with more than one library we checked adding more copies.

Below is a video, posted in The Washington Post, featuring Dr. Kalanithi reflecting on his prognosis (Note: if the video is unavailable below, link to it here, or read Kalanithi’s reflections here).

Crystal Ball: THE SOUND

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

9781250077691_6461eIn what might be one of the easiest ever Crystal Ball calls, we can say the Ruth Wariner’s The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir (Macmillan/Flatiron Books; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample) is headed for best seller lists.

No guessing here. We know because the author announced it herself on her Facebook page.

“Just landed in California and received an unbelievable call from the team at Flatiron Books telling me that The Sound of Gravel is an instant NYT Bestseller. WOW! I can hardly believe it and feel like I might still be daydreaming on the plane right now! Thank you to everyone who has been involved and read my story so far. Thank you for reaching out to say how it has affected you, for recommending it to other readers, and for supporting me in so many ways. I am truly overwhelmed with amazement and gratitude!”

It debuts on the upcoming  NYT Bestseller E-Book List at #13.

Thanks for GalleyChat columnist Robin Beerbower for the alert. She has been an early proponent of Wariner’s  memoir about growing up in a violent polygamous Mormon cult. The book has also received advance media attention.

Pulling out the killer opening line: “I am my mother’s fourth child and my father’s thirty-ninth,” Entertainment Weekly gives it a glowing review and an A grade, saying:

“It’s so wrenching and moving that I lost sleep finishing the book, and then lost even more lying awake ruminating on it—a testament to Wariner’s skill at making painful events from decades ago feel visceral and to her willingness to reopen wounds.”

People has featured the title twice, making it their “Book of the Week” for the Jan 18 issue (which came out last Friday) and earlier featured a long, detailed interview with the author on the Web site, in which they call the memoir “powerful and poignant.”

As we reported earlier, it is a IndieNext pick for January too. Mary Laura Philpott (W), Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN says:

“This is a memoir made extraordinary simply by the fact that the author lived to tell the tale. Wariner grew up in a polygamist cult across the Mexican border, the 39th of her father’s 41 children. Surrounded by crushing poverty and repeated tragedy, little Ruth was taught that girls are born to be used by callous men and an angry God. However, she had just enough contact with her maternal grandparents and the outside world to realize the bizarre practices at home didn’t match up with the rest of civilization. With quiet persistence, she grew into an adolescent and began to consider the possibility of escape. Riveting and reminiscent of Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle.”

Holds are quickly getting out of control with ratios topping 7:1 on modest ordering in some areas. The author lives in Portland, Oregon and holds in the Northwest are particularly heavy.

Oprah Memoir On the Way

Friday, December 18th, 2015

Oprah Winfrey, who has made the career of many a memoirist, is set to finally come through on the promise of writing a memoir of her own.

Joining with Flatiron Books, a division of Macmillan, Winfrey is to pen The Life You Want, an inspirational memoir due out in January 2017 (no cover or ISBN yet).

According to her site, the book “reveals never-before told stories from Oprah’s experience and shines a light on how they can inform your life.”

Deadline Hollywood reports the memoir deal netted Winfrey an eight-figure payday.

9781250054050_e10a9It will follow Winfrey’s 2014 What I Know for Sure, a collection of her O magazine columns also published by Flatiron.

The memoir is not the only deal Winfrey has struck with the company.

She is also starting her own imprint and plans to hand-select several nonfiction titles each year.

In a press release quoted by The Hollywood Reporter, Bob Miller, president and publisher of Flatiron Books, said,

“We’re … thrilled to give a home to Oprah’s imprint titles. We all know how extraordinary Oprah’s instincts are when it comes to choosing books, instincts borne of her lifelong love of reading and the power of the written word.”

While these days it takes more than a nod from Oprah to make a book a sensation, her endorsements continues to spur sales, making hers an imprint to watch.


Thursday, December 17th, 2015

The DinnerLaura Linney is in talks to star in an adaptation of The Dinner by Dutch author Herman Koch (RH/Hogarth), reports Deadline.

It was once reported that Cate Blanchett would direct, but it that chair will now be occupied by Oren Moverman.

A hit in Europe, the novel arrived in the U.S. in 2013 to predictions that it would be the next Gone Girl. Although it didn’t achieve that level, it sold well and was on the NYT Hardcover Fiction list for seven weeks, reaching a high of #7.

+-+971582089_140Linney has completed work on another book adaptation, Sully, based on Highest Duty by Chesley Sullenberger (HarperCollins/Morrow, 2009), who piloted an airplane to safety after its engines were  disabled by a bird strike.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks will play Sully and Linney his wife. It is set for release some time in 2016.

Afghanistan, with a Dash of Humor

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

Will Tina Fey be able to find cinematic humor in the war in Afghanistan? At least one person thinks so, declaring on Jezebel that Fey’s upcoming movte Whiskey Tango Foxtrot “could be the first to succeed where other studio films have flopped.”

Noting that “The whole project is legitimized by the fact that it’s based on” Kim Barker’s “darkly funny” memoir The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the reporter cautions, “I am still wary, since Hollywood is capable of making smart, nuanced stories into broadly offensive blockbusters, but hopeful—if any Af-Pak war comedy has a chance at success, it’s certainly this one.”

Once titled Fun House, now changed to Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, itmarrives in theaters on March 4.

The first trailer was released today.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (The Taliban Shuffle MTI): Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Kimberly Barker, )RH/Anchor, 2/23/16)

A Literary Tribute

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

moveable_feastErnest Hemingway’s memoir of his time in Paris, A Moveable Feast, is fast becoming a testimony to the city he loved and is being used, along with flowers and candles, as both a token of mourning and as a symbol of defiance in the face of terrorism.

The memoir’s title in French is Paris est une fete — or “Paris is a party.” NPR reports that the memoir is being used as a memorial on the one week anniversary of the recent terrorist attacks, because it celebrates “Paris as an exciting place of ideas, a nexus of people who love life and the arts. The book is set in the 1920s, as Paris recovered from the oppressions of World War I.”

It is flying off the shelves in bookstores in Paris and, according to Bloomberg Business, is “the fastest-selling biography and foreign-language book at online retailer Daily orders of the memoir … have risen 50-fold to 500 since Monday, according to publisher Folio.”

Closer to home, US readers are following suit, checking out the book in sufficient quantities that a small holds list is growing in many libraries we checked.

To support readers’ needs to mark the tragedy and re-discover a city and country unmarred by terror, librarians are putting together multi-media displays on Paris, including audiobooks and film, as Katie McLain, Reference Assistant at the Waukegan Public Library, shared in the most recent CODES Conversations hosted by the Readers’ Advisory Research and Trends Committee of RUSA/CODES (see the searchable archive on the sign-up page).

ME BEFORE YOU Release Date Moves, Again

Friday, November 20th, 2015

9780670026609-1Fans of Jojo Moyes can celebrate. The release date for the film adaptation of her novel Me Before You (Penguin/Pamela Dorman) is being moved –  once again.

This time, however, the film sill arrive in theaters earlier than expected, on March 4 rather than the previously announced June 3.

Deadline reports the change is designed to “hook women, particularly those off from college and high school on spring break.”

Starring Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) and Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games), it is directed by Thea Sharrock. This will be her first feature film, after directing the BBC miniseries The Hollow Crown and Call The Midwife. Moyes wrote the screenplay.

As we wrote in May, this is the not the first release date adjustment for the film. The June 3 date was major delay from its original Aug. 21, 2015 release date.

According to Deadline, the move puts the film into direct competition with several other anticipated movies, including Tina Fey’s untitled war comedy based on Kim Barker’s memoir The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan (in her review of this “darkly funny” war reporter’s memoir, the NYT‘s Michiko Kakutani presciently called the author a “sort of Tina Fey character, who unexpectedly finds herself addicted to the adrenaline rush of war.”)

A movie-tie in edition of Me Before You is scheduled for Jan. 26, 2016:

Me Before You: A Novel (Movie Tie-In) by Jojo Moyes
Penguin Books
On Sale Date: January 26, 2016
ISBN 9780143109464
$16.00 USD, $21.00 CAD

Holds Alert: DEAR MR. YOU

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

9781501107832_b8888Mary-Louise Parker’s debut, Dear Mr. You (S&S/Scribner; Simon & Schuster Audio), a memoir in letters addressed to the men of her life, is generating large hold queues, with some libraries we checked spiking as high as 8:1.

No surprise,Parker has been getting a great deal of media attention. From a New York Time’s profile to a glowing review in both that paper and on NPR, under the headline “Dear Mary-Louise Parker, You’ve Written A Great Book.”

In the NYT’s review Janet Maslin wrote:

“The book is written in a smart, beguiling voice that is inextricably entwined with qualities that Ms. Parker radiates as an actress. There’s as much flintiness as reckless charm. Flirtation and mischief are big parts of her arsenal. So is the honest soul-searching that gives this slight-looking book much more heft than might be expected.”

We highlighted it in Books to Know and Recommend the week before last and it is a November Indie Next Pick and a LibraryReads selection:

“Parker has created a unique and poetic memoir through a series of letters–some of appreciation, some of apology, some simply of acknowledgement–to the men in her life. Ranging from a taxi driver to a grandfather she never knew, each man has left an imprint and shaped her into the person she has become. Full of feeling, growth, and self-discovery, Parker’s book has left me longing to write my own letters.”
 PJ Gardiner, Wake County Public Libraries, Raleigh, NC.

Closer to Screen:

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

glassDescribed as an “instant classic,” Jeannette Walls’ best selling memoir The Glass Castle,(S&S/Scribner), tells the amazing story of her childhood with dysfunctional, sometimes homeless  parents. In 2012, it was set to be adapted as a film starring Jennifer Lawrence.

Plans have changed and now Brie Larson is in talks to star, as is Woody Harrelson, reports Deadline. Larson is currently enjoying Oscar buzz for her star role in another book adaptation, Room (she was interviewed about it on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday).

Glass Castle‘s Director Daniel Cretton has worked with her before, on the well-received movie Short Term 12.

Carrie Brownstein Taking Off

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

9781594486630_a351bWe featured Portlandia star and Sleater-Kinney guitarist Carrie Brownstein’s new memoir Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir (Penguin/Riverhead Books; Penguin Audio and BOT) on last week’s look ahead.

Since then Brownstein has captured reader interest in back-to-back appearances on NPR’s Fresh Air and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

On the strength of both performances her story has risen to #26 on Amazon’s sales rankings.

Perhaps some of the attention is due to her quirky set-piece for Colbert where she sings a somber song:


the Dogs and More

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Yesterday was a three-book extravaganza for CBS’s venerable Sunday Morning magazine show.

9781579656713_1a0abThe Dogist by Elias Weiss Friedman (Workman/Artisan) was featured in a charming and smile-inducing report, sending the book racing up the Amazon sales charts where it is currently occupying the #62 spot.

The book is based on Friedman’s blog and Instagram accounts of the same name, which have done for dogs what Humans of New York and The Sartorialist have done for people and fashion. In the process Friedman has gathered over a million followers.

CBS posted a photo gallery in addition to the video segment.

9781250065919_b0b65 9780399167256_d72dfAlso featured were Erica Jong, whose new book Fear of Dying (Macmillan/St. Martin’s; Brilliance Audio; OverDrive Sample) rose to #148 on the Amazon chart as a result, and singer-songwriter Elvis Costello, for his new memoir Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink (PRH/Blue Rider Press; Penguin Audio; OverDrive Sample) who comes to CBS fresh off of his appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last week.

Scientology Tell-All

Friday, October 16th, 2015

9781101886960_28aaaAnticipation is building for Leah Remini’s upcoming tell-all about her experiences with the Church of Scientology, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology (RH/Ballantine). Best known for her role as Carrie Heffernan on the CBS show King of Queens, and currently the star of TLC’s reality show, It’s All RelativeRemini left the Church after being a member for 30 years.

Lawrence Wright wrote a best selling account of the Church in 2013, Going Clear, the basis for this year’s award-winning HBO documentary of the same name, but Remini, who Vanity Fair describing her as “a well-connected Hollywood player” predicts she will have juicer stories, “until either Katie Holmes or Nicole Kidman [both women were married to Tom Cruise, who is deeply involved in the church] put pen to paper, this sounds like the closest we’ll get to exploring the Hollywood side of Scientology.”

People and Redbook have reported on the upcoming book, as have the tabloids. ABC’s 20/20 will do an hour-long interview with Remini on October 30, before the book’s release the following Tuesday. She will also be featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, as well as dozens of other shows. Even Rachel Ray and Dr. Oz will get in on the action.

Holds are starting to grow at libraries we checked.

THE SHIFT on Fresh Air

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

9781616203207_75ba0Palliative care nurse (and former English professor) Theresa Brown talked with Terry Gross yesterday on NPR, discussing her new book tracing the fates of four patients over 12 hours in a cancer ward.

The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients’ Lives (Workman/Algonquin) is a moving and riveting medical account of struggle, hope, fear, and the daily demands of nursing.

Holds are heavy in some libraries and the book is on the verge of breaking into Amazon’s top 100.

Brown previously worked in a hospital’s oncology unit but now spends her time in home-based hospice care. Her first book, Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life, and Everything in Between (Harper) was highly regarded and has been adopted as a textbook in nursing schools.

Brown and Gross discuss the challenges of nursing, the stress of time and work pressures that cost patients the care they need, the desire for honesty in diagnosis, and the experience of home care.

TRUTH, The Trailer

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

Based on the memoir by 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes, Truth And Duty: The Press, The President, And The Privilege Of Power,  the movie Truth tells the story of the news team reporting on allegations that then President George Bush had avoided military service. It was later proved that the story was based on faulty documents. Those involved were fired and CBS News anchor Dan Rather stepped down.

The movie stars Robert Redford as Rather and Cate Blanchett as Mapes. The trailer was just released for the movie that opens in a limited number of theaters on Oct. 16, followed by a wider release.

Rather himself endorsed the movie earlier this month at the Toronto Film Festival.


Truth : The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power
Mary Mapes

Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin
Trade pbk; October 13, 2015