54 minutes | Sep 28, 2020
Memoir: Race and Identity
This session explores how race, or more specifically how being nonwhite in America, has formed the identities and lives of our three memoirists. Sejal Shah, in her meditative memoir in essays, This Is One Way to Dance, explores how we are all marked by culture, language, family, and place. In her moving memoir, Say I’m Dead, E. Dolores Johnson tells the astonishing story of her black father and white mother’s flight from Indiana’s antimiscegenation laws to Buffalo, where they married in the 1940s and raised her and her siblings. Journalist Issac Bailey, author of My Brother Moochie and Why Didn’t We Riot? calls out the myth that whites where he lives, in Trumpland, support Trump because of economic distress rather than racism. Listen in to this powerful and timely set of conversations, hosted by Paris Alston, producer for Radio Boston at WBUR. Find the transcript for this session here: https://tinyurl.com/y6osqy4f
42 minutes | Sep 26, 2020
Memoir: Extraordinary Beginnings
These three authors were launched from situations and families that were out of the ordinary. Poet, playwright, and memoirist Honor Moore, after having written a memoir about her extraordinary father, turns to examining her relationship with her mother in Our Revolution. This mother of nine lived among the poor with Moore’s father, the Archbishop of New York, was a published author and playwright, and died young of cancer while racing to finish a memoir. In My Captain America, Megan Margulies writes lovingly about her close and formative relationship with her grandfather, the man who created the superhero comic Captain America. And Mikel Jollett, frontman for the indie band Airborne Toxic Event, describes in Hollywood Park a harrowing childhood in a cult where he barely knew his parents until the day his mother arrived to rescue him and his brother. Richard Hoffman, author of the poetry collection Noon Until Night and the memoirs Half the House and Love & Fury, hosts this session. Find the transcript for this event here: https://tinyurl.com/yy7cqq5r
49 minutes | Sep 24, 2020
Memoir: Secrets, Lies, and the Mysteries of Youth
Secrets: almost every family has them. The three memoirists in this audio session will talk about the secrets and mysteries that haunt their lives. Helen Fremont, in The Escape Artist, explores the psychological fallout stemming from her parents’ refusal to acknowledge that they were survivors of the Holocaust. In The Book of Atlantis Black, poet Betsy Bonner delves into the mysterious and troubling facts surrounding her sister’s death in a blend of memoir and literary true crime. And poet and memoirist Nick Flynn skillfully and lyrically blends the secrets and mysteries of his early life with his own secrets in This Is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire. Journalist, writer, and founder of TheEditorial.com, Heidi Legg, delves into the truth of these memoirists’ stories about secrets, lies, and mysteries. Listen to the end for a special offer from the BBF and W.W. Norton! The transcript of this event is here: https://tinyurl.com/y6zm39fv
60 minutes | Sep 22, 2020
Memoir: Intellectual Histories
A novelist and essayist, a computer scientist, and a scholar of human development discuss their lives and intellectual development. Claire Messud is the beloved author of many works of fiction and criticism. In Kant’s Little Prussian Head and Other Reasons Why I Write, she examines her lived life and her literary life--which are bound together inextricably. Rana El Kaliouby talks about her personal journey and her efforts to humanize artificial intelligence by teaching machines to measure and interpret human emotions in Girl Decoded. And finally, the great Howard Gardner, originator of the theory of multiple intelligences, discusses his intellectual development in A Synthesizing Mind. Darrin McMahon, author of Divine Fury: A History of Genius, is the apt and able host of this revelatory session. Find the transcript for this event here: https://tinyurl.com/y2jgb85b
59 minutes | Mar 30, 2016
What We Talk About When We Talk About Sex
We live at a time when sex is no longer taboo to talk about (or have), when repression is banished, and no one has issues. Or not. Turns out, there are still powerful unspoken norms, cultural expectations, and widespread confusion about sex. Let’s talk about it with Lauren Holmes, author of a much-lauded and multiple star-reviewed debut story collection, Barbara the Slut and Other People; novelist Dylan Landis, author of Rainey Royal, a powerful portrait of an abandoned fourteen-year-old girl; and journalist Rachel Hills, whose The Sex Myth: The Gap Between Our Fantasies and Reality examines the new normative when it comes to sex. Come join in a discussion moderated by culture critic, philosopher, and author of How To Do Things with Pornography, Nancy Bauer.
53 minutes | Mar 30, 2016
But Enough About Me: Reimagining the Memoir
As the memoir continues its reign, it has also continued to surprise and captivate us, raising provocative questions about truth, memory, and the different ways we tell the story of ourselves. Novelist Heidi Julavits’s collection of personal essays, The Folded Clock, blends memoir and journal, with wry, minutely-observed meditations on friendship, aging, and the selves we leave behind. And journalist-turned-woodworker Nina MacLaughlin, author of Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter, explores the challenges and freedom she found in a hands-on avocation, one rarely taken on by women. Come join these three masters of the form in a discussion moderated by Megan O’Grady, book critic at Vogue. Sponsored by May K. Houghton.
64 minutes | Mar 3, 2016
Racial Justice And Community Activism In The Age Of Black Lives Matter
Join the conversation about black political and social activism with leading scholars of the subject. Jason Sokol, author of All Eyes Are Upon Us: Race and Politics from Boston To Brooklyn, specializes in politics, race, and civil rights. Laurence Ralph, author of Renegade Dreams: Living through Injury in Gangland Chicago, studies how police abuse, mass incarceration, and the drug trade normalize disease, disability, and premature death in the inner city. Come participate in this illuminating and timely discussion moderated by Callie Crossley, host of Under the Radar on WGBH Radio.
62 minutes | Mar 3, 2016
YA: Boys to Men
There are more possible definitions of “masculinity” than ever before—but does that make the journey from boyhood to manhood easier, or just more confusing? In their recent novels, these four authors for teens offer their own fictional road maps to becoming a man. Award-winning novelist Andrew Smith takes a bittersweet look at senior year in Stand-Off, his sequel to Winger. In The Hunted, Matt de la Peña’s heart-stopping sequel to The Living, a boy discovers what it means to be a man—while fighting to survive. And in All-American Boys, Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely collaborate on a timely novel that takes on race, justice, and masculinity. What images of young men predominate in YA books? How can YA authors effectively reach male readers? These questions and others will be considered by our panel, led by Simmons College’s Amy Pattee, who’s more than capable of hanging with the guys.
59 minutes | Feb 24, 2016
Hits, Hooks, And Jam Bands
What is the secret to making a hit song? In Let’s Go Crazy: Prince and the Making of Purple Rain, Alan Light, a former writer at Rolling Stone, looks at how Prince’s song, album, and movie became a musical juggernaut since audiences first heard the song in 1984. Walter Holland’s Phish’s A Live One examines the cultural context for the band’s groundbreaking 1995 album. And John Seabrook, in The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory, takes you into the world of hooks and computerized composition. From the jam band to the pop machine, this session considers how music moves and manipulates us. Get a virtual-lighter app for your phone and be ready to cheer. Moderated by the music-loving host of WBUR’s On Point, Tom Ashbrook.
55 minutes | Feb 24, 2016
The Supremes. A Towering Giant And A Pint-Sized Powerhouse
In Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America, Wil Haygood, author of The Butler, delivers the definitive biography of the man who, as a lawyer, won a string of landmark Supreme Court cases that dismantled Jim Crow and later became a towering figure on the Court himself. As a lawyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was often called the Thurgood Marshall of the women’s movement, and like him she has gone on to become a Supreme Court icon. But lately there has been a 21st-century twist: thanks to the Notorious R.B.G. Tumblr developed by Shana Knizhnik, she is now also an Internet meme. That celebratory spirit suffuses Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Knizhnik and Irin Carmon. Join us for an illuminating look at two extraordinary justices delivered by three very original biographers with a gift for portraiture. Hosted by WBUR’s Anthony Brooks.
62 minutes | Dec 17, 2015
Art, Architecture, and Design Keynote: Moshe Safdie
This year’s American Institute of Architects Gold Medal winner, Moshe Safdie, has devoted a lifetime to the issue of dense urbanism beginning with Habitat, his low-rise, high-density housing complex introduced at the 1967 Montreal World’s Fair. Today, megascale projects seem to defy human scale, but Safdie believes architects can create the conditions for a high quality of life in megacities and has done so in several enormous projects. Safdie will present his ideas, after which he and architecture critic Sarah Goldhagen will discuss the challenges posed by dense urbanism and the desire to humanize the megascale. Sponsored by Ann and Graham Gund.
59 minutes | Dec 17, 2015
The Trial Of Abraham
We invite you to serve on the jury in the sensational trial of Abraham for the attempted murder of his son, Isaac. Alan Dershowitz, author of Abraham: The World’s First (But Certainly Not Last) Jewish Lawyer and no stranger to complex cases and celebrity clients, argues for the defense. Biblical scholar Harvey Cox, author of How to Read the Bible, brings his considerable knowledge to bear as prosecuting attorney. The trial will be presided over by First Circuit Court of Appeals Judge David Barron, and you, the audience, will be the jury. Don’t miss the trial of the millennium. From the 2015 Boston Book Festival.
56 minutes | Dec 17, 2015
2015 Fiction Keynote: Colum McCann
Irish-born author Colum McCann’s novels are known for a stunning use of language, empathic power in describing loss and grief, and an almost cathartic effect on readers. His National Book Award–winning novel Let the Great World Spin is considered an American masterpiece. McCann’s latest, Thirteen Ways of Looking, includes four pieces of short fiction that form a tribute to the search for meaning in a world of chance occurrences as well as to the healing power of storytelling. Publishers Weekly, in its starred review, declares that these new stories prove McCann’s standing as “a master with a poet’s ear, a psychologist’s understanding, and a humanitarian’s conscience.” Join Colum McCann as he discusses Thirteen Ways of Looking with Claire Messud, author of the award-winning The Woman Upstairs. Sponsored by the Boston Public Library. From the 2015 Boston Book Festival, October 24, 2015.
62 minutes | Dec 17, 2015
2015 Nonfiction Keynote: Atul Gawande
In Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, surgeon and New Yorker staff writer Atul Gawande confronts head-on an inconvenient truth: we are all going to die, and even modern medicine can’t change that, at least not yet. Gawande takes a hard and honest look at the end-of-life experience and the ways in which suffering is often prolonged. He offers examples of alternative ways of aging and dying, including the story of his own father’s death, that emphasize quality of life. Being Mortal is widely considered to be Gawande’s best book, as well as his most personal. Join Atul Gawande as he talks about Being Mortal with Meghna Chakrabarti, co-host of WBUR’s acclaimed Radio Boston. Sponsored by the Plymouth Rock Foundation. From the 2015 Boston Book Festival, October 24, 2015.
54 minutes | Dec 17, 2015
2015 YA Keynote: Libba Bray
Whether she’s writing about mad cow disease, Victorian-era sorceresses, or marooned beauty pageant contestants, Printz Award–winning novelist Libba Bray consistently melds smart writing, powerful themes, and genuine wit in her books for teen readers. Bray’s latest novel, Lair of Dreams, continues the dramatic story begun in her bestseller The Diviners. Merging elements of the supernatural with a vividly described New York in the Roaring Twenties, Lair of Dreams offers the best possible combination of historical and fantasy fiction. Our first-ever YA Keynote session will be hosted by Brookline Public Library’s Robin Brenner. She’ll be wearing period garb—so you should feel free to don that flapper dress or bowler hat, too! Sponsored by Simmons College. From the 2015 Boston Book Festival, October 24, 2015.