Life Stories #73: Annabelle Gurwitch

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Life Stories: Annabelle Gurwitch
photo: Jeanne Cole

I’ve known Annabelle Gurwitch for years, so I was delighted to have her as a guest on Life Stories to talk about her new collection of personal essays, I See You Made an Effort, when she came to New York on her book tour. It’s a wonderful series of reflections on turning 50, from humorous interludes like accompanying her teenage son to a rock concert to more serious stories like a gathering of women who come together to help a dying friend with an assisted suicide. Annabelle also opens up about her own family past in more detail than she’s ever shared in previous books, and, as she said during our conversation, “Luckily, there’s no money that I can be disinherited from.”

As a friend, I’m hugely biased in Annabelle’s favor, but I loved this book—both as a reading experience and as a dramatic monologue that I saw her workshop earlier this year—and I’m thrilled that it’s become a New York Times bestseller. If you haven’t picked it up yet, I hope this episode will convince you to give it a try.

Listen to Life Stories #73: Annabelle Gurwitch (MP3 file); or download this file by right-clicking (Mac users, option-click). Or subscribe to Life Stories in iTunes, where you can catch up with earlier episodes and be alerted whenever a new one is released. (And if you are an iTunes subscriber, please consider rating and reviewing the podcast!)

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30 May 2014 | life stories |

Life Stories #72: Ophira Eisenberg

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Life Stories: Ophira Eisenberg
photo: Jan Cobb Photography

In this episode of Life Stories, the podcast where I talk to memoir writers about their lives and the art of writing memoir, NPR host Ophira Eisenberg talks about Screw Everyone, a personal history of, as the subtitle puts its, “sleeping [her] way to monogamy.” Although her first idea for a book was something radically different:

“In the beginning, I actually wanted to write a memoir about failing—I was going to call it Points for Trying, and it was just going to be stories of failing, whether it was in relationships, or in my years of trying to establish myself as a stand-up comic, or with other jobs, or just sort of with life in general. Because, you know, I’ve tried a lot of things in life, and that means I have failed a lot. So I thought that’d be fun. [My agent] was, like, ‘Oh, I don’t know. Who wants to read a book about failing?’ But what if it’s a really funny book about failing?

She was just, like, ‘Listen, you have all these great relationship stories. Why don’t you develop… Switching the lens a little bit and looking at them through that lens.’ And, you know, as a female writer, and from a marketing point of view, writing a book on relationships and love is an easy angle to sell.”

As we discuss, however, a woman writing about relationships and love in a way that unapologetically embraces casual sex comes with some challenges and pushback. We also talk about how Eisenberg’s upbringing in Canada shaped her “not picky” approach to dating, how the man she married felt about seeing their relationship laid out in print from its very beginnings, and the role the Moth storytelling series played in her literary career. Among other things!

Listen to Life Stories #72: Ophira Eisenberg (MP3 file); or download this file by right-clicking (Mac users, option-click). Or subscribe to Life Stories in iTunes, where you can catch up with earlier episodes and be alerted whenever a new one is released. (And if you are an iTunes subscriber, please consider rating and reviewing the podcast!)

27 May 2014 | life stories |

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