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Posts Tagged ‘Memoir’

Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin

by Katherine Habley on September 29th, 2015
Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin Cover Image

Okay I admit it….I’m a Midwestern girl through and through.  Born in Cleveland, moved to Chicago as a young child, then to Kansas City where I grew up, then off to college in Columbia, Missouri, then to my first professional library job in Normal, Illinois (where I met my husband), next to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where our two children were born, and finally to Coralville where our kids grew up (now 32 and 34 years old). The point is, I am proud of my Midwestern upbringing and the work ethic and sense of values inherent in being part of a friendly and down to earth region of the country.  So I found the book, Primates of Park Avenue, quite a stretch in subject matter from what I can relate to as a woman, wife, and mother.  The author has a PhD. from Yale and does writing and social research.  Her background in anthropology is evident as she compares mommies who live on the Upper East Side to primates and to women from other countries. This book is a memoir about Martin’s life moving from downtown NYC to Park Avenue with her wealthy husband, a native of Manhattan.  The customs and social life of the women in her uber rich neighborhood are absolutely foreign to me, and thus, very interesting and appalling at the same time. Trying to fit in as a new mom in a new neighborhood, wanting a good school for your son, and wanting to meet new friends are definitely things I understand; but the high society social climbing that apparently happens in the Upper East Side is something I’m glad I’ve never encountered in Iowa.  Martin feels like a social outcast in her new lifestyle.  The stress of getting a kindergartner into the best school in the city, wearing only designer clothes and carrying a Birkin bag, always being dressed to the nines whenever you leave the apartment to buy milk at the local store, taking Xanax to ward off a nervous breakdown, being snubbed when trying to set up a child’s playdate, owning a second home in the Hamptons, and vacationing in Vail are all discussed in this funny and erudite novel written from an interesting slant.  The comparisons between mother baboons and mommies on Park Avenue is just amazing. Talk about looking at cultural mores and animal behavior in a whole new way! I didn’t want to put this book down.  Hope you enjoy it as well!


A Lucky Life Interrupted

by Katherine Habley on July 27th, 2015
A Lucky Life Interrupted Cover Image

A Lucky Life Interrupted: A Memoir of Hope by Tom Brokaw was a quick read that I enjoyed.  I remember watching Brokaw as the anchor of the NBC Nightly News for years and also appreciating his thoughtful coverage of Presidential elections.  To me, he was always intelligent, articulate, and reassuring in reporting the news.  Then I got to hear him in person at the University of Iowa a few years ago after his book, The Greatest Generation, was published.  Once again, his presence was so warm and familiar, his sense of humor very apparent, and his Midwestern values obvious.  In his latest book, quite different from his others, Brokaw talks about the 2013–2014 year he spent battling multiple myeloma, a treatable but incurable blood cancer.  After the diagnosis, Brokaw the journalist decided to keep a diary of his time dealing with the ups and downs of cancer treatment.  His journal recounts his frustrations with the medical team in not communicating with each other well enough in coordinating his treatment.  He talks about the importance of patients taking an active role in their own treatment, and the critical role of caretakers, nurses, and rehabilitation specialists. But he also takes a broader look at health care and aging in America and how fortunate he was to have the financial resources to pursue the best doctors at Mayo Clinic and elsewhere.  The question I ask myself frequently, “what do other people do who don’t have health insurance?” is one posed by the author as well.  His memories of important world events and interviews he’s done with famous world leaders are scattered throughout his memoir.  For someone with a very charmed life to talk about his illness and ultimately offer hope to others facing devastating news about their own mortality, his book says a lot about the man himself who counts each day reading, writing, fishing, and time spent with his beloved family and friends, a precious gift.

Author Jon Katz at ICPL

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on April 29th, 2015

The Iowa City Public Library and Prairie Lights are pleased to welcome New York Times bestselling author Jon Katz to the Library Tuesday, May 5.simon

Katz, the author of The Last Housewife: A Suburban Detective Mystery and The New Work of Dogs: Tending to Life, Love, and Family, will read from his newest book: Saving Simon: How a Rescue Donkey Taught Me the Meaning of Compassion.

In the spring of 2011, Katz received a phone call from an animal control officer. She had found a neglected donkey on a farm in upstate New York and hoped Katz and his wife, Maria, would be willing to adopt him. The recovery process was long, but as Katz helped Simon heal, the two formed a bond that illustrates the wondrous ways animals make humans wiser and kinder.

The author reading will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Meeting Room A at the Library. Prairie Lights will have copies of Katz’s books available for purchase at the program and will donate 10 percent of the sales made that night to the Iowa City Animal Shelter.

For more information, contact the Library at (319) 356-5200.


by Melody Dworak on February 26th, 2015
Trapped Cover Image

Here are four new memoirs that will make the able-bodied glad we’re only trapped by crappy winter weather.

Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius

A bizarre illness rendered Martin Pistorius immobile and incommunicado for 12 years. His family was told the teenager was going to die, but he survived in a vegetative state with no way to communicate. His family didn’t know he was cognizant for more than a decade. How do you cope when you are trapped inside your body? What do you do when the staff at the care center leave Barney reruns on for hours? This memoir shares his intense story. eBook available on OverdriveRead the rest of this entry »


by Beth Fisher on April 16th, 2014
Memoirs Cover Image

Memoir is an area of non-fiction that often get lost in Library collections.   Memoirs are similar to biographies and autobiographies, but with one significant difference that sets them apart.

A Biography tells the true story of a person’s entire life.  Written by someone other than the subject, a biography tells a life story of from birth to death (or the present time) and all the events and facts in the story are verifiable.

An Autobiography is a biography written about the author’s own life.  They tell their own story.  Just as in a biography all the events and facts are verifiable, and they tell their complete life story – from birth to the current time.

A Memoir is most similar to an autobiography except its about a much smaller segment of time.  It tells the story of a specific event, story arc, or time period in the author’s life.   This is what makes memoirs so unique.  Its the true story story of how a person dealt with an event in their own life, and lived to tell the tale.  Memoirs can be found in just about anyplace in the Library’s collection, and on any topic.

We put up a new display of Memoirs on the 2nd floor today. Some of the titles include:

banishedBanished: surviving my years in the Westboro Baptist Church. by Lauren Drain with Lisa Pulitzer.

dan minivanDan gets a minivan: life at the intersection of dude and dad  by Dan Zevin.  Bring on the two kids, overweight pooch, and a wife with a great full time job and Dan morphs into one great stay at home dad.

escapeEscape by Carolyn Jessop with Laura Palmer.  How a young woman, raised in an FLDS community, and married as a teenager to a man 32 years her senior eventually gets strong and finds a way out of the FLDS for herself and her 8 children.

family in parisA Family in Paris: stories of food, life and adventure by Jane Paech.  Stories from the six years this Australian family spent living in Paris.

it suckedIt sucked and then I cried:  how I had a baby, a breakdown, and a much needed margarita   by Heather B. Armstrong.


king peggyKing Peggy: an American secretary, her royal destiny, and the inspiring story of how she changed and African Village by Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman.   How she went from a secretary in DC to King of a fishing village in Africa.

on the outsideOn the outside looking Indian: how my second childhood changed my life  by Rupinder Gill.   Describes Gill’s descision at the age of 30 to have the childhood she couldn’t growing up in a restrictive, traditional Indian household.

talking to girlsTalking to girls about Duran Duran: one young man’s quest for true love and a cooler haircut  by Rob Sheffield.  Being a teen ager in the 80′s meant the birth of MTV, John Hughes teen angst movies, and marking every step you took toward adulthood with pop culture references.