biography/memoir

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Mo' Meta Blues by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and Ben Greenman

Questlove has achieved fame as the drummer for The Roots, a long-lasting instrumental hip-hop band that is also the incredibly virtuosic house band for the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon televison show.

Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler

It's like Aaron Hartzler was raised in an alternate universe. His memoir of growing up in a conservative Christian home was completely foreign to me, yet fascinating. No TV, no music except of the hymn variety, he was compelled to hide the fact that he was reading Neil Simon plays and listening to Amy Grant!   In his world a bad boy goes to the movies.  Hartzler presents his story in a straightforward manner that doesn't negate his parents beliefs, but illuminates his own burgeoning disillusion with them.

Stitches by David Small

In this graphic novel memoir, David Small chronicles his sickly childhood growing up in Detroit in the 1950s. Small is told he needs surgery to remove a cyst, but he wakes up without a vocal cord . . . and voiceless. He eventually learns he had cancer—a fact his parents kept a secret from him. The use of the images helps Small to capture his adolescent frustrations, his powerlessness, and his lack of voice better than just words can.

We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy by Yael Kohen

I expected this to be an oral history of comedians so I was a little surprised at how much space was given over to improv and writing for sitcoms.  Not that it wasn't interesting but I kept wondering when we'd be getting back to the comedians.   A lot of the focus of the book is about women breaking into the largely male arena of stand-up comedy and the perception, by some people, that women aren't funny.  There is some rehashing of well-worn topics like how hard women had it on  Saturday Night Live, and other not so well known, like how supportive Janeane Garofalo was

The Lost: A Search For Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn

As a boy, Daniel Mendelsohn was fascinated by his maternal grandfather’s stories and compelled by the mysterious absence of the single great-uncle (of seven siblings) who was “killed by the Nazis” along with his wife and four daughters. As an adult, the author doggedly pursued the truth about what happened to these “six of six million” in an attempt to know who they were as individuals caught up in the larger holocaust of history.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

Born to a single mother and adopted by Pentecostal parents, acclaimed British novelist Jeanette Winterson's childhood was extraordinary by any measure.  In this raw, fiercely honest and deeply affecting memoir, she remembers growing up with a monstrous mother and a passive father in a very specific time and place: the 1960s and 1970s in the small North England industrial town of Accrington, where some of the poorer children brought dog biscuits to school for their mid-day meal and everyone Jeanette knew was as skinny as a ferret.

The Book of Drugs: A Memoir by Mike Doughty

As in most books I've read about addicts, Mike Doughty's doesn't really wallow for long in how awful it must be but his is the only one I've ever read in which the author says: "If heroin still made me feel like I did the first time, and kept making me that way forever -- kept working -- I might've quite happily accepted a desolate, marginal life and death."  Although sobriety is surely the better choice, he's seems to have traded desolate and marginal for bitterness and self loathing.

Soccer Men by Simon Kuper

Euro 2012 has kicked off in Poland and the Ukraine.  This is one of the world’s largest soccer tournaments, featuring sixteen of Europe’s top flight clubs.  Will Spain continue their dominance, or will Germany restore order? To get you in the mood, try Simon Kuper’s Soccer Men.  This book contains essays on some of the great players and managers of today and the recent past. The profiles explore what makes a truly great player or soccer strategist. You can dig a little deeper and check out Kuper’s older book, Soccernomics, which explores the who wins and why.

My Cross to Bear by Gregg Allman

As is typical in most autobiographies, Gregg Allman tries to put the best spin on years of bad behavior.  Of course he's been married 6 or 7 times, but it was never his idea.  He's just a pawn in the game, man.   Too drunk and drugged up to participate in his own life, he presents himself as so passive that it's a miracle he could write a song on his own or tour with the band.  Written in conversational style, the book is filled with entertaining side notes, such as his belief that the Grateful Dead had fans because they dosed them with acid.  He also asserts that

Then Again by Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton's memoir is far from being a Hollywood tell-all. While she does talk about certain films and boyfriends (Annie Hall and Woody Allen, Reds and Warren Beatty, The Godfather trilogy and Al Pacino), the heart of the story is her mother and Alzheimer's, her decision to adopt at age 50 and her lifelong struggle with self-confidence. Portions of her mother's 85 journals are juxtaposed with Diane's own story, and the book includes photos of Diane and family, as well as scanned images from her mother's journals.

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© 2011 Thomas Crane Public Library

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