Saturday, October 3, 2020
Call it autobio, memoir, or autofiction, personal narratives have become one of the most important genres in comics and graphic novels. The creators on this panel have published three of the most powerful, probing and honest entries in this genre during the past year, demonstrating the range of the form in these examples alone. How do creators shape lived experience—including trauma, illness and other important passages—into involving graphic narratives? What personal and creative issues have they dealt with in the process?
This BBF Warmup Weekend session is part of the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, held virtually from October 3–25!
Sunday, October 4, 2020
Our first session of BBF 2020 will be broadcast on Under the Radar with Callie Crossley on GBH radio, 89.7. Tune in or listen later to Callie Crossley’s conversation with Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Natasha Trethewey about her memoir, Memorial Drive. Trethewey brings a poet’s lyricism to the tale of her mother’s murder by her ex-husband, Trethewey’s stepfather. The title refers to the road where Trethewey’s mother was killed, which runs from downtown Atlanta to Stone Mountain, the nation’s largest monument to the Confederacy. It refers also to the author’s birthday on Confederate Memorial Day and to the task of memorializing and contextualizing her mother’s life and death. The New York Times review describes this searing work as “a controlled burn of chaos and intellection; it is a memoir that will really lay you out.” Join Callie Crossley and Natasha Trethewey for this unique audio kickoff to BBF 2020.
Friday, October 9, 2020
A biographer and a memoirist will talk about giants of the culinary world in this session on food. John Birdsall’s biography of the charismatic and legendary taste-maker, James Beard, in the words of the Publishers Weekly starred review, “ offers a tangy portrait of the backstabbing world of post–WWII food writing along with vivid, novelistic evocations of Beard’s flavor experiences…” Fanny Singer’s Always Home, titled before coronavirus but more apt now than ever, is as much an homage to her mother, food icon Alice Waters, as it is a memoir. According to Kirkus Reviews, Singer’s memoir “bursts with sensuous descriptions of tastes, fragrances, and textures as she recounts her “very rich and full and just a little bit unconventional” young life.” Bonus: there are sixty recipes included! Join us for some delicious discourse all about the epicurean life, hosted by Amy Traverso, senior food writer at Yankee magazine and author of The Apple Lover’s Cookbook, newly re-released in a revised and updated edition.
Sunday, October 25, 2020
These three authors were launched from situations and families that were out of the ordinary. Poet, playwright, and memoirist Honor Moore, after having written a memoir about her extraordinary father, turns to examining her relationship with her mother in Our Revolution. This mother of nine lived among the poor with Moore’s father, the Archbishop of New York, was a published author and playwright, and died young of cancer while racing to finish a memoir. In My Captain America, Megan Margulies writes lovingly about her close and formative relationship with her grandfather, the man who created the superhero comic Captain America. And Mikel Jollett, frontman for the indie band Airborne Toxic Event, describes in Hollywood Park a harrowing childhood in a cult where he barely knew his parents until the day his mother arrived to rescue him and his brother. Richard Hoffman, author of the poetry collection Noon Until Night and the memoirs Half the House and Love & Fury, hosts this session.
A novelist and essayist, a computer scientist, and a scholar of human development discuss their lives and intellectual development. Claire Messud is the beloved author of many works of fiction and criticism. In Kant’s Little Prussian Head and Other Reasons Why I Write, she examines her lived life and her literary life--which are bound together inextricably. Rana El Kaliouby talks about her personal journey and her efforts to humanize artificial intelligence by teaching machines to measure and interpret human emotions in Girl Decoded. And finally, the great Howard Gardner, originator of the theory of multiple intelligences, discusses his intellectual development in A Synthesizing Mind. Darrin McMahon, author of Divine Fury: A History of Genius, is the apt and able host of this revelatory session.
This session explores how race, or more specifically how being nonwhite in America, has formed the identities and lives of our three memoirists. Sejal Shah, in her meditative memoir in essays, This Is One Way to Dance, explores how we are all marked by culture, language, family, and place. In her moving memoir, Say I’m Dead, E. Dolores Johnson tells the astonishing story of her black father and white mother’s flight from Indiana’s antimiscegenation laws to Buffalo, where they married in the 1940s and raised her and her siblings. Journalist Issac Bailey, author of My Brother Moochie and Why Didn’t We Riot? calls out the myth that whites where he lives, in Trumpland, support Trump because of economic distress rather than racism. Listen in to this powerful and timely set of conversations, hosted by Paris Alston, producer for Radio Boston at WBUR.
Secrets: almost every family has them. The three memoirists in this audio session will talk about the secrets and mysteries that haunt their lives. Helen Fremont, in The Escape Artist, explores the psychological fallout stemming from her parents’ refusal to acknowledge that they were survivors of the Holocaust. In The Book of Atlantis Black, poet Betsy Bonner delves into the mysterious and troubling facts surrounding her sister’s death in a blend of memoir and literary true crime. And poet and memoirist Nick Flynn skillfully and lyrically blends the secrets and mysteries of his early life with his own secrets in This Is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire. Journalist, writer, and founder of TheEditorial.com, Heidi Legg, delves into the truth of these memoirists’ stories about secrets, lies, and mysteries. Listen to the end for a special offer from the BBF and W.W. Norton!