Join us next Saturday at Penn: talking memoir with Buzz Bissinger, Cynthia Kaplan, James Martin, and John Prendergast

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Next Saturday afternoon I will have the pleasure of returning to my alma mater (and my second-semester employer), the University of Pennsylvania, for a homecoming conversation about memoir. John Prendergast will moderate.  Buzz Bissinger, Cynthia Kaplan, and James Martin will participate.  We hope to see you there.

Here are the facts, as presented on the Kelly Writers web:

Alumni Authors Series: Memoir Writing 
Buzz Bissinger, Cynthia Kaplan, Beth Kephart, and James Martin
4:30 PM, October 27, 2012 in the Arts Cafe
co-sponsored by: the Penn Gazette
moderated by: John Prendergast
Join alumni authors at Kelly Writers House as they read from and talk about their work in memoir. Panelists include Pulitzer Prize-winner Buzz Bissinger (C'76), whose latest book is Father's Day: A Journey Into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son; essayist and performer Cynthia Kaplan (C'85), whose "true stories" are collected in Why I'm Like This and Leave the Building Quickly; Beth Kephart C'82, author of multiple memoirs and young-adult novels, and of the forthcoming Handling the Truth; and James Martin (W'82), author of In Good Company, which tells the story of his conversion from GE executive to Jesuit priest, and eight other books. Pennsylvania Gazette Editor John Prendergast (C'80) will moderate the discussion.

H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger is among the nation's most honored and distinguished writers. A native of New York City, Buzz is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Livingston Award, the American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award and the National Headliners Award, among others. He also was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. He is the author of four highly acclaimed nonfiction books: Friday Night Lights, A Prayer for the City, Three Nights in August, and his newest, Father's Day, his memoir about his twin sons. Born 13 weeks premature in 1983 and weighing less than two pounds, Bissinger's sons have lived diametrically opposed lives. After obtaining his master's in education from the University of Pennsylvania, Gerry is now a public school teacher while Zach, because of oxygen deprivation at birth, suffered trace brain damage and struggles every day with enormous learning disabilities.

Cynthia Kaplan is the author of two collections of humorous essays, "Why I'm Like This: True Stories" and "Leave the Building Quickly." Her humor pieces have appeared in many newspapers, magazines and anthologies. She is the the co-host, with CBS Sunday Morning's Nancy Giles, of the comedy anthology series The New Jack Paar Show and has appeared in comedy and rock clubs throughout the country. She has written for film and television and recently released a comedy album, Fangry. She has never appeared on Law & Order.

Beth Kephart is the award-winning author of fourteen books—five memoirs, a book of history and prose poetry, a corporate fable, and seven young adult novels. Three more books are set for release in 2013, including Handling the Truth (Gotham), a book about the making of memoir, and its consequences. Kephart teaches creative nonfiction at Penn during the spring semesters, is the strategic writing partner in a boutique communications firm, and reviews widely. Her book blog,, has twice been named a top author blog by the BBAW. Her essays are widely anthologized. Kepharts most recent book, Small Damages, a novel set in southern Spain, was released this past summer by Philomel to starred reviews.

James Martin, SJ, is a Jesuit priest, contributing editor at America, the national Catholic magazine, and author of several books, including The New York Times bestseller The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, and My Life with the Saints and Between Heaven and Mirth, both named by Publishers Weekly as "Best Books" of the Year. He is a frequent commentator in the media on matters of religion and spirituality, and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. He has appeared in venues as diverse as NPR's "Fresh Air with Terry Gross," PBS's "Newshour with Jim Lehrer" and Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report." Before entering the Jesuits in 1988, Father Martin graduated from Penn's Wharton School of Business and worked for six years in corporate finance. During his Jesuit training he worked at a hospice for the sick and dying in Jamaica run by Mother Teresa's sisters, with street-gang members in the housing projects of Chicago, and for two years in Nairobi, Kenya, helping East African refugees start small businesses.


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