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Memoir [clear filter]
Saturday, October 19

11:30am EDT

Memoir: Tim O'Brien
Tim O’Brien is best known for his acclaimed semi-autobiographical novel of the Vietnam War, The Things They Carried, as well as the National Book Award winner Going After Cacciato. His latest, Dad’s Maybe Book, is a love letter to his two sons, begun when they were very small and added to over a fifteen-year period. As an older dad, O’Brien was uncertain how much time he would have with his sons, so he wrote to offer them glimpses into the life and times, but also the abiding concerns, of their father. Full of wisdom and humor, Dad’s Maybe Book is both a touching celebration of fatherhood and a poignant memoir of a life in letters. O’Brien will be in conversation with Chris Walsh, who directs the writing program at Boston University and is the author of Cowardice: A Brief History.

avatar for Chris Walsh

Chris Walsh

Chris Walsh is the director of Boston University’s Writing Program and has taught writing and literature at Emerson College, Harvard University, and as a Fulbright scholar at the University of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. His work can be found in Agni, the Los Angeles Review of... Read More →

avatar for Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O’Brien is the author of The Things They Carried, Going After Cacciato, If I Die in a Combat Zone, In the Lake of the Woods, and July, July. A National Book Award recipient, he has had work appear in the New Yorker, Esquire, the Atlantic, and Playboy. His latest work, Dad’s... Read More →

Saturday October 19, 2019 11:30am - 12:30pm EDT
Church of the Covenant 67 Newbury St, Boston, MA, 02116

12:30pm EDT

Elliot Ackerman: Places and Names
A combat veteran turned journalist tells a powerful story of war, revolution, and returning to the streets of conflict. A National Book Award finalist, journalist, novelist, and decorated Marine, Elliot Ackerman has reckoned with the horrors of war from many angles. He has guided fellow Marines through brutal urban combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, interviewed Syrian activists about their failed revolution, and sat down with a former al-Qaeda member in Iraq to discuss the future of the Middle East. Ackerman will sit down with the Christian Science Monitor’s Martin Kuz, himself a journalist who covered Afghanistan, to discuss his unflinching memoir, Places and Names, which reckons with the nature of combat and the human cost of the wars in Iran, Afghanistan, and Syria. Twelve years after Ackerman fought in the Battle of Fallujah, he revisited the Iraqi city to find that little had changed. In the end, he discovered that returning to the region where he fought his war offered no closure. Yet the candid and at times devastating stories he collects offer a unique, human view of the past two decades of strife in the Middle East. Prepare for a deeply personal discussion about America’s modern wars. Sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

avatar for Martin Kuz

Martin Kuz

Martin Kuz is the West Coast correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, based in Sacramento, California. He previously served as a projects reporter for the San Antonio Express-News and covered the war in Afghanistan for Stars and Stripes. He has worked as a staff reporter and... Read More →

avatar for Elliot Ackerman

Elliot Ackerman

Elliot Ackerman is the author of several novels, including Dark at the Crossing, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and more recently Waiting for Eden. His writings appear in Esquire, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, and the New York Times Magazine, among other publications... Read More →


Saturday October 19, 2019 12:30pm - 1:30pm EDT
Old South Mary Norton 645 Boylston St, Boston, MA, 02116

12:30pm EDT

Readings: Memoir
A true life story, well told, can be as riveting as any novel. The memoirists who will read in this session offer glimpses into four very different--but equally fascinating--lives. In If You Love Me, Maureen Cavanagh brings her poignantly personal story as a mother to bear on her work as an advocate for families coping with opioid addiction. Mothers and daughters also figure in Adrienne Brodeur's Wild Game, in which a teenage Adrienne was enlisted to orchestrate her mother’s infidelity and spent years coping with the repercussions. Family secrets are also at the center of William Dameron’s The Lie, a memoir about the hard-won battle to embrace his identity as a gay man--only to have his identity stolen for use in a catfishing scam. Finally, Susan Lewis Solomont’s Lost and Found in Spain will have listeners longing for their own Iberian adventure, as the wife of a former US Ambassador recounts how her time in that country expanded her sense of self and community. Our host for this session of memorable readings is Sean Tuohy, co-host of the Writer’s Bone podcast.

avatar for Sean Tuohy

Sean Tuohy

Sean Tuohy is the co-host of Writer’s Bone, a creative arts podcast, along with Daniel Ford. He is also a screenwriter and stand-up comedian. Tuohy currently lives in Boston.

avatar for Adrienne Brodeur

Adrienne Brodeur

Adrienne Brodeur is an award-winning author and editor with years of experience in the literary sphere. A former acquiring editor at Harcourt and HMH Books, Brodeur has earned the National Magazine Award for Best Fiction four times with Zoetrope, a literary magazine she founded with... Read More →
avatar for Maureen Cavanagh

Maureen Cavanagh

Maureen Cavanagh is an educator, recovery coach, and public speaker. She co-founded Magnolia New Beginnings, a nonprofit peer-support group for those living with or affected by substance use disorder. She is currently pursuing certification as a drug and alcohol counselor at UMass... Read More →
avatar for Susan Lewis Solomont

Susan Lewis Solomont

Susan Lewis Solomont is an award-winning entrepreneur, philanthropist, and community leader who has advised and worked with WGBH, Tufts University, Berklee College of Music, and many other institutions. From 2009 to 2013, she lived in Madrid with her husband, Alan D. Solomont, the... Read More →
avatar for William Dameron

William Dameron

William Dameron is an award-winning blogger, memoirist, and essayist. His work has appeared in publications including the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Salon, and the Huffington Post, as well as in the book Fashionably Late: Gay, Bi and Trans Men Who Came Out Later in Life. He... Read More →

Saturday October 19, 2019 12:30pm - 1:30pm EDT
BPL Newsfeed Cafe 700 Boylston St, Boston, MA, 02116

1:00pm EDT

Memoir: From Playbooks to Pi: A Former Raven Tells All
John Urschel was an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens. He was, at the same time, a candidate for a PhD in mathematics at MIT. Not the usual football player’s track. In his memoir, Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football, co-authored with his wife, author Louisa Thomas, Urschel tells how his prodigious talent for math revealed itself at an early age. Football represented an entirely different, but equally intoxicating, thrill. Ultimately, Urschel chose mathematics over football. These days, as he finishes his doctorate at MIT, Urschel publishes papers on centroidal Voronoi tessellations. In his spare time, he visits local high schools to talk about STEM subjects. Shira Springer, WBUR’s Sports and Society reporter, will moderate the conversation about Urschel’s extraordinary path.

avatar for Shira Springer

Shira Springer

Shira Springer covers stories at the intersection of sports and society for NPR and WBUR. She also writes regular columns on women’s sports for the Boston Globe and the Sports Business Journal and feature stories for the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine and other publications. She has... Read More →

avatar for John Urschel

John Urschel

John Urschel is a former offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens and a current PhD candidate at MIT. He has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mathematics from Penn State and is a winner of the Sullivan Award and the Campbell Trophy as recognition of his quality work as a... Read More →
avatar for Louisa Thomas

Louisa Thomas

Louisa Thomas is a historian, journalist, and author. She is also a former contributor for the New Yorker and former editor and writer for Grantland. A previous New England Fellow, Thomas is the author of both Louisa, a biography of First Lady Louisa Catherine Adams, the wife of John... Read More →

Saturday October 19, 2019 1:00pm - 2:00pm EDT
Emmanuel Parish Hall 15 Newbury St, Boston, MA, 02116

2:30pm EDT

A Country of Immigrants
For those who succeed in passing through the golden door of the promised land, the dream and the reality of America often clash. Abdi Nor Iftin, author of Call Me American, grew up during the civil war in Somalia. The story of his life and his determination to reach the United States is epic, his joy at succeeding unbounded—until the election of Donald Trump. Poet Richard Blanco, born in Spain of Cuban refugee parents, came to America as a child. His recent travels across the country to discover our shared identity provided material for his latest volume of poems, How to Love a Country. Both authors give voice to the complexity and contradictions of a place whose motto is e pluribus unum. Our discussion will be moderated by Simón Ríos, first-generation American and reporter for WBUR. Sponsored by G. Barrie Landry.

avatar for Simón Ríos

Simón Ríos

Simón Rios is an award-winning, bilingual newsroom reporter at WBUR. Prior to WBUR, Rios spent two years working at the Standard-Times in New Bedford, where he covered business and immigration. A graduate of Emerson College, Rios worked as a carpenter, a cab driver, and a musician... Read More →

avatar for Abdi Nor Iftin

Abdi Nor Iftin

Abdi Nor Iftin is a memorist and former correspondent for NPR. He is the author of Call Me American, a memoir detailing his childhood in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, until he was granted a visa to live in the United States. In 2015, Iftin was the subject of This American Life... Read More →
avatar for Richard Blanco

Richard Blanco

Richard Blanco is a poet, professor, public speaker, memoirist, and civil engineer. He was the first immigrant, the first Latino, the first openly gay person, and the youngest person to be a US inaugural poet when he read at President Obama’s 2013 inauguration. He is also the first... Read More →

Saturday October 19, 2019 2:30pm - 3:30pm EDT
Trinity Forum 206 Clarendon St, Boston, MA, 02116

4:15pm EDT

Memoir: Seeking the Self
We are pleased to feature the authors of two of the year’s most electrifying memoirs in this session. Many BBF fans will remember Saeed Jones as the engaging host of the 2016 fiction keynote with Colson Whitehead. He’s back at the BBF with How We Fight for Our Lives, a coming-of-age memoir that “marks the emergence of a major literary voice,” according to Kirkus Reviews. His poetically told story of growing up black and gay in the South reflects on overarching concerns about race, queerness, power, love and grief. Cyrus Grace Dunham’s A Year Without a Name is a searing and honest account of growing up alienated from one’s own body. Coming to terms with no longer wanting be called Grace and then with the decision to become Cyrus was only the first step in their trans experience, one that, as Kirkus Reviews puts it, “defies categorization as much as it defies resolution.” This is sure to be a riveting and powerful convo moderated by Arielle Gray, WBUR’s arts engagement producer for the ARTery. Sponsored by Creative Nonfiction.

avatar for Arielle Gray

Arielle Gray

Arielle Gray is a Boston-based writer and multimedia artist. Her freelance work has appeared in VICE, Bustle, Huffington Post, Afropunk, and The Black Youth Project. She is also the current Arts Engagement Producer for The ARTery, WBUR’s Arts and Culture team. Much of her work focuses... Read More →

avatar for Saeed Jones

Saeed Jones

Saeed Jones’s debut poetry collection Prelude to Bruise was the winner of the 2015 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for poetry and the 2015 Stonewall Book Award/Barbara Gittings Literature Award. The book was also a finalist for the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award. Jones's latest... Read More →
avatar for Cyrus Grace Dunham

Cyrus Grace Dunham

Cyrus Grace Dunham has written about trans politics and prison abolition for publications including the New Yorker, the Village Voice, New York Magazine, and the London Sunday Times. Their debut book, the memoir A Year Without a Name, has been called by poet Mary Karr “a classic... Read More →

Saturday October 19, 2019 4:15pm - 5:15pm EDT
Church of the Covenant 67 Newbury St, Boston, MA, 02116
Sunday, October 20

12:00pm EDT

BBF Unbound: Creature Feature
From Aesop's fables to Odysseus’s dog Argos, from Wilbur the pig to Boxer the horse, animals have been a part of human tales (or should we say “tails”?) for as long as stories have existed. But how do we write the true stories of animals? What can we learn from reading nonfiction about non-human creatures? What does memoir and narrative nonfiction about animals, or that includes animals, teach us about the human experience? How can relationships with animals transcend human connection? How can the inclusion of animals in our stories further complicate our understanding of a character? And why write or read about animals at all? In this session, panelists Matthew Gilbert, Sangamithra Iyer, Jessie Male, and Grace Talusan, led by moderator E.B. Bartels, will discuss how and why they, and other writers, integrate animals into their nonfiction, spanning the range from works solely centered on the animal experience to animals as supporting characters in a memoir.

avatar for E.B. Bartels

E.B. Bartels

E.B. Bartels graduated from Columbia University's School of the Arts with an MFA in creative nonfiction writing in 2014. Her essays have appeared in Catapult, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, The Millions, The Toast, The Butter, Ploughshares online, and the anthology The Places We’ve... Read More →

avatar for Grace Talusan

Grace Talusan

Grace Talusan is a memoirist, essayist, journalist, and author who teaches writing at Tufts University. Also a teacher at GrubStreet, Talusan has had work appear in Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, Boston Magazine, the Boston Globe, and the Rumpus. A graduate of Tufts University and... Read More →
avatar for Jessie Male

Jessie Male

Jessie Male is a PhD candidate in English and disability studies at the Ohio State University. Her research focuses on disability representation in contemporary memoir. Her work has been published in Guernica, Nerve, Refinery 29, Bustle, Palaver Journal, and other creative, academic... Read More →
avatar for Matthew Gilbert

Matthew Gilbert

Matthew Gilbert is the TV critic at the Boston Globe. Before that, he covered books and movies for the Globe, as well as celebrity and author interviews. Gilbert and Globe colleague Sarah Rodman do a weekly show about TV called “We Like to Watch.” He has also written for Slate... Read More →
avatar for Sangamithra Iyer

Sangamithra Iyer

Sangamithra Iyer is a writer and engineer who holds a BE in civil engineering from the Cooper Union, an MS in geotechnical engineering from UC Berkeley, and an MFA in creative writing from Hunter College. Iyer was an Emerging Writer Fellow at Aspen Summer Words and a finalist for... Read More →

Sunday October 20, 2019 12:00pm - 1:00pm EDT
Roxbury Innovation Center Multipurpose Room 2300 Washington St, Boston, MA, 02119

3:00pm EDT

Blues Men
Join two accomplished authors and jazz aficionados for a wide-ranging conversation about life, music, and singing the blues. Berklee College of Music professor Bill Banfield’s distinguished career as a composer, jazz guitarist, and recording artist has earned him numerous honors in the music world. His latest work is a novel, Cedric’s Truth, about a musician who bucks the creative constraints of corporate culture, only to end up disillusioned. Clifford Thompson is an award-winning author, memoirist, essayist, and jazz critic whose latest, What It Is: Race, Family and One Thinking Man’s Blues, questions the disparity between his long-held beliefs and the reality with which he is confronted today. Join us for a blend of culture, politics, and jazz with two renaissance men, moderated by José Massó, host of WBUR's ¡Con Salsa!

avatar for José Massó

José Massó

For more than forty years, José Massó has been the host of WBUR's ¡Con Salsa!, described as "part music show, part party, part community center." In 2010, Massó became the first Puerto Rican/Latino to be inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Beyond his on-air... Read More →

avatar for Bill Banfield

Bill Banfield

Bill Banfield is a composer, recording artist, and author of multiple books. The Director of Africana Studies and a professor at Berklee College of Music, Banfield is the author of Cultural Codes, about the incorporation of the artist’s values into cultural aesthetic; Black Notes... Read More →
avatar for Clifford Thompson

Clifford Thompson

Clifford Thompson is a writer whose work has appeared in Best American Essays, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Iowa Review, Film Quarterly, and other publications. He is the recipient of a Whiting Writers Award for nonfiction and teaches at New York University, Sarah... Read More →

Sunday October 20, 2019 3:00pm - 4:00pm EDT
Roxbury Innovation Center Multipurpose Room 2300 Washington St, Boston, MA, 02119

3:00pm EDT

Memoir: Origin Stories
We are all products of both our family and the time and place we live in. The three accomplished memoirists in this session explore aspects of the power of home and family in identity creation. Sarah M. Broom’s The Yellow House, longlisted for a National Book Award for nonfiction, is, according to the New York Times review, “among the essential memoirs of this vexing decade.” The yellow house in New Orleans East was witness to the lives of Broom and her eleven siblings. Maureen Stanton, who grew up in the shadow of Walpole State Prison, describes in Body Leaping Backward how, as her family simultaneously dissolves and loses its toehold in the middle class, Stanton also descends into drug use and criminal behavior. People Magazine, which chose Stanton's memoir as a "Best New Book" called Body Leaping Backward "a blazingly important memoir about the possibility of change." Grace Talusan’s The Body Papers, a memoir in essays, tells a riveting story of her immigrant Filipino family and of her abuse within that family. Novelist Celeste Ng praised Talusan’s memoir, noting that “Grace Talusan writes eloquently about the most unsayable things: the deep gravitational pull of family, the complexity of navigating identity as an immigrant, and the ways we move forward even as we carry our traumas with us." Callie Crossley, host of Under the Radar on WGBH radio, will moderate the discussion with these talented authors.

avatar for Callie Crossley

Callie Crossley

Callie Crossley is a radio and TV host, award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist, and commentator. She hosts Basic Black, a show focusing on current events concerning communities of color, as well as the weekly talk show Under the Radar with Callie Crossley on WGBH radio... Read More →

avatar for Grace Talusan

Grace Talusan

Grace Talusan is a memoirist, essayist, journalist, and author who teaches writing at Tufts University. Also a teacher at GrubStreet, Talusan has had work appear in Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, Boston Magazine, the Boston Globe, and the Rumpus. A graduate of Tufts University and... Read More →
avatar for Maureen Stanton

Maureen Stanton

Maureen Stanton is the author of Killer Stuff and Tons of Money: An Insider’s Look at the World of Flea Markets, Antiques, and Collecting and Body Leaping Backward: Memoir of a Delinquent Girlhood, which Kirkus Reviews dubbed a “compellingly honest coming-of-age memoir.” She... Read More →
avatar for Sarah M. Broom

Sarah M. Broom

Sarah Broom is a writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New Yorker, O, The Oprah Magazine, and the Oxford American. She earned her master's degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley and has been awarded fellowships at Djerassi Resident... Read More →


Sunday October 20, 2019 3:00pm - 4:00pm EDT
Bolling School Committee Room 2300 Washington St, Roxbury, MA, 02119