Sunday, August 24, 2008

so many stories,too little time to blog!

I'm getting so excited about the arrival of StoryCorps this week that I've been ignoring my blog duties. Duties is not the right word here, because I started the Realgoodblog to document my reading life and my radio life with books. Though I wasn't quite sure I had the time,I've often thought that I mark my life by the books I read. So noting my reading is in some ways, noting my life.

I want to tell you about Phyllis Montana-Leblanc. I had the chance to have a conversation with her last week and I was impressed by how candid she was.

Here's the thing: August 29th is the 3rd anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I am sorry to say that though I remember the devastation of that storm and the devastation of the lack of government relief, because I live here, at the absolute OTHER end of the Mississippi River, it didn't have that much impact on me...which I know is a callous thing to say.

That's why I'm glad I had the chance to meet Phyllis Montana Leblanc. You may know Phyllis from Spike Lee's documentary "When The Levees Broke". She was the outspoken star who told it like it was. Now she's telling it through her writing in her memoir "Not Just the Levees Broke - My Story During and After Hurricane Katrina".

As we talked and she told me how it began, how the walls in her apartment bubbled - or like her husband said - he could hear the walls breathe... she admitted that even talking about it made her heart beat and her hands shake a little bit. She saw bodies float by, she saw helicopters come and helicopters go, leaving her behind. And yet, she is still here, just recently out of their FEMA trailer and in their very own house.

She struggles still, combatting fears, trying to help others who haven't been as fortunate as she has. But as she told me, she has faith. And that is why she made it.

You can hear our conversation here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Nothing is as it seems...

Or so we come to learn in the new novel "Somebody Else's Daughter" by Elizabeth Brundage. The wealthy good father who donates alot of money to the synagogue and his daughter's school is really making his money from the porn industry....The dedicated headmaster of the private school who has had great success at turning the school around has a secret side that drives him to young girls...the drug addict who gives up his child with a woman who dies of AIDS and becomes a teacher that inspires young people.

All of them are flawed and very real.

In our conversation Elizabeth said, "Nate becomes the unlikely hero in the novel and I loved that. I wanted to really show how you are not necessarily doomed by the mistakes you make early on in life. You can make changes and improve and climb out of a situation and find redemption."

More about "Somebody Else's Daughter":

In the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts a group of families is connected through the prestigious Pioneer prep school. Into this community enters Nate Gallagher, a teacher and struggling writer haunted by the daughter he gave up for adoption years ago. The girl, Willa—now a teenager and one of Nate's students—lives with her adoptive parents, Joe and Candace, who have nurtured her with their affection and prosperity. When Willa wins a community service internship and begins working at a local women's shelter, her friendship with a troubled prostitute raises questions about her own biological past. Despite her parent's love and care, Willa can't shake her feelings of confusion and abandonment, and Joe and Candace are too preoccupied with their crumbling marriage to realize her unhappiness.

Tune in for my conversation with Elizabeth this week on Realgoodwords.