For FALL 2010's delicious offerings of books, art, food, film, and unique travel--check out the NEW ISSUE of our online magazine FEAST--you will not go away hungry-- http://www.feastofbooks.com/

Between issues, read our blog posts as we and our special guests share thoughts, ideas, and recommendations about books, art, food, film, and travel. We love to hear from our readers, so please post a comment! Thanks-- Rosemary Carstens, editor

SNAX ONLINE is moving during the first quarter of 2011 -- stay tuned!

Snax Online is undergoing a redesign and will be moving to a new location. Check back from time to time for a link. In its new format, this blog will cover a wider range of topics but also its usual five. In the meantime, keep up with what's happening in the world of books, art, food, film, and travel at http://www.FEASTofBooks.com --

See you in 2011!!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Telling Our Stories – The Intimacy of Memoir

As first heard in the gritty black-and-white film The Naked City in 1948, “There are eight million stories in the naked city.” Everyone has a story and appearances can be deceiving when it comes to knowing who has led a remarkable adventure, survived a harrowing experience, or been celebrated at some point in his or her life. Three books recently crossed my desk about women who stepped out, survived, or were deeply affected by a brief star turn. Each is compelling and inspiring in its own way, and each reminds us of how seldom we know another’s secret heart.

THE LOVELIEST WOMAN IN AMERICA: A Tragic Actress, Her Lost Diaries, and Her Granddaughter’s Search for Home, Bibi Gaston. William Morrow 2008. I met Bibi a few years ago at a party and, as we sat together enjoying glasses of wine, she told me that recently, out of the blue, she had received 1,500 pages of her grandmother’s diaries from the 1920s and 1930s. Before that she had known nothing about her father’s mother except that she had been very beautiful and had killed herself in 1938. Her grandmother, Rosamond Pinchot, had been born into an illustrious political family, was dubbed “the loveliest woman in America” at the age of 23. She was a celebrated actress, an accomplished sportswoman, and a well-known socialite. By the age of 33 she was dead by her own hand. This candid book relates Bibi Gaston’s own journey as she explores her family’s secrets and the convoluted maze of subsequent events following Rosamond’s death. It’s a fascinating tale!

PACIFIC LADY: The First Woman to Sail Solo Across the World’s Largest Ocean, Sharon Sites Adams with Karen J. Cootes. University of Nebraska Press 2008. In June 1965, Sharon Adams sailed solo from the mainland United States to Hawaii. Just four years later, she completed a 74-day sail from Japan across the Pacific to the coast of California. No woman had ever done either before! This was an age when high-tech navigation equipment and communications were unknown. Imagine the challenges she faced and yet she is virtually unknown. Adams had always been athletic and a tomboy, but these were times when women adventurers were few and far between. Following the death of her husband, this intrepid sailor “discovered” the sport and had her first lesson, bought a boat, and within eight months set out to achieve her first world record. A truly inspiring story for anyone dreaming of taking on a challenge!

CANCER IS A BITCH (Or, I’d Rather Be Having a Midlife Crisis), Gail Konop Baker. Da Capo 2008. Life can really whack you upside the head sometimes. That’s what happened to Gail Konop Baker, an accomplished columnist and freelance writer, a runner, yoga practitioner, doctor’s wife, and mother of two. As she puts it, in her early forties, just as her life was cooking on all burners, “my right boob turned on me. Seven biopsies in five years, the last one ductal carcinoma in situ.” Gail’s valiant fight again this dreaded disease put her priorities quickly in order. At this point in her life, she had expected “to be feeling bad about my neck; instead I was feeling bad I wouldn’t live long enough to feel bad about it.” This story is as much about family, friends, and love as it is about cancer. The author pulls no punches, but she writes with humor as well as candor—it’s a real story with no bullshit in sight. Author's website: http://www.gailkonopbaker.com/

-- Rosemary Carstens


Andrea Meyer said...

Related to Pacific Lady, I'd like to recommend the memoir _Sea Legs_ by Kathleen Crane. She's a pioneering oceanographer who overcame challenges like not being allowed to go on expeditions (female scientists in her time were either not allowed to go or had to go in pairs). I met her at Boulder Bookstore and was very impressed! -- Andrea Meyer

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder about Cancer Is a Bitch. I've read Gail's writing and loved it. Time to read the book!

Anonymous said...

Pacific Lady sounds fascinating; thanks for telling us about it.