Life with Warhol, Training Animals, & a Biographer’s Perspective | August Memoirs on Audio

Atlas, James. The Shadow in the Garden: A Biographer’s Tale. Books on Tape. ISBN 9781524783648. Reader TBA.
The biographer—so often in the shadows, kibbitzing, casting doubt, proving facts—here comes to the stage. Atlas takes us back to his childhood in suburban Chicago, where he fell in love with literature and, early on, found in himself the impulse to study writers’ lives. We meet Richard Ellmann, the great biographer of James Joyce and Atlas’s professor during a transformative year at Oxford. We get to know the author’s first subject, the “self-doomed” poet Delmore Schwartz; a bygone cast of intellectuals such as Edmund Wilson and Dwight Macdonald; and, of course, the elusive Bellow, “a metaphysician of the ordinary.” Atlas revisits the lives and works of the classical biographers, the Renaissance writers of what were then called “lives,” Samuel Johnson and the “Meshuggeneh” Boswell, and the Victorian masters Mrs. Gaskell and Thomas Carlyle.

Eggers, Dave. Visitants. Recorded Books. ISBN 9781490649719. Read by Dion Graham.
Visitants begins at 140 kilometers per hour, with Eggers being driven across the Saudi Arabian desert by a hired driver who looks at him and says “American, boom boom!” Spanning over 20 years of travel, there are long, lighthearted and caterwauling adventures in places such as New Zealand, Idaho, Cuba and Thailand as well as briefer sketches of people he meets in Croatia, Egypt and Papua New Guinea. And there are meditative pieces from South Sudan and Syria that reveal another side to his books What Is the What and Zeitoun.

Fraser-Cavassoni, Natasha. After Andy: Adventures in Warhol Land. Books on Tape. ISBN 9781524778309. Read by the author.
Fraser-Cavassoni met the artist when she was 16, and then on and off over the years before landing in New York City at the Andy Warhol Studio, or as she calls it, “Adventures in Warhol Land.” Here she takes readers deep into the artist’s world—as well as miles into the stratosphere of the socialites, fashion icons, film stars, rock legends, and art world powerhouses who could be found in his orbit—where she worked with Fred Hughes, Brigid Berlin, Vincent Fremont, and others who were once part of the Factory clan. As the last person hired at the studio before Warhol died in 1987, Fraser-Cavassoni saw firsthand the end of an era and the establishment of a global phenomenon.

LeFavour, Cree. Lights On, Rats Out. Blackstone. ISBN 9781538424902. Read by the author.
As a young college graduate a year into treatment with a psychiatrist, LeFavour began to organize her days around the cruel, compulsive logic of self-harm: with each newly lit cigarette, the world would drop away as her focus narrowed on the fierce, blooming release of pleasure-pain as the burning tip was applied to an unblemished patch of skin. Her body was a canvas of cruelty, each scar a mark of pride and shame. The heady thrill of meeting with her psychiatrist, Dr. Adam N. Kohl―whose relationship with Cree is at once sustaining and paralyzing―comes to be the only bright spot in her days.

McMillan, Kirstin. Dangerous Animals. Blackstone. ISBN 9781538416372. Reader TBA.
McMillan’s childhood was a literal circus. By the time she was eight, she was working with her family under the glittering lights of the Ringling Brothers tent. But when her parents split and her father decided to settle the family on his own animal-training ranch, Kirstin, her brothers, and the animals were treated in the same cold and domineering manner: Captive beneath her father’s iron fist, Kirstin saw all animals, human or otherwise, as predatory—dangerous animals to be feared. By the time she was 17, she was a runaway, desperate for connection until she reclaimed herself through a chance relationship with Floppy, a homeless basset hound. The dog-human bond restored her own humanity and helped her find the strength to break free. Today, Kirstin is a top Hollywood animal and celebrity dog trainer, approaching animals with kindness and humor, a lesson she learned through one special, canine connection.

Reyes, Emma. The Book of Emma Reyes. Books on Tape. ISBN 9781524778583. Read by Marisol Ramirez.
Reyes was an illegitimate child, raised in a windowless room in Bogotá with no water or toilet and only ingenuity to keep her and her sister alive. Abandoned by their mother, she and her sister moved to a Catholic convent housing 150 orphan girls, where they washed pots, ironed and mended laundry, scrubbed floors, cleaned bathrooms, and sewed garments and decorative cloths for the nuns—and lived in fear of the Devil. Illiterate and knowing nothing of the outside world, Emma escaped at age 19, eventually establishing a career as an artist and befriending the likes of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera as well as European artists and intellectuals.

Shockey, Eva. Taking Aim: Daring To Be Different, Happier, and Healthier in the Great Outdoors. Books on Tape. ISBN 9780525500087. Read by the author.
Here Shockey tells a very personal story of choosing the less-traveled path to a rewarding life in outdoor pursuits like hunting and fishing. For her, as the millions of fans who follow her life on TV and on social media can attest, that has meant hunting as a way of harvesting food, caring deeply about sustainability and healthy eating, and getting closer to God in nature. Shockey takes listeners along for the ride as she scales rugged mountains in Alaska, tracks 1,500-pound bull moose through unforgiving Yukon terrain, and meets the many challenges of a life in the outdoors. Along the way we learn that hunting is about so much more than letting an arrow fly or pulling a trigger.

Williams, Patricia. Rabbit: The Autobiography of Ms. Pat. HarperAudio. ISBN 978-1504735292. Reader TBA.
Comedian Williams, who for years went by her street-name, Rabbit, was born and raised in Atlanta’s most troubled neighborhood at the height of the crack epidemic. One of five children, Williams watched as her alcoholic mother struggled to get by on charity, cons, and petty crimes. At seven Williams was taught to roll drunks for money. At 12, she was targeted for sex by a man eight years her senior; by 13 she was pregnant. By15, she was a mother of two. Alone at 16, Williams was determined to make a better life for her children. But with no job skills and an eighth-grade education, her options were limited. She learned quickly that hustling and humor were the only tools she had to survive.

Stephanie Klose About Stephanie Klose

Stephanie Klose (, @sklose on Twitter) is Media Editor, Library Journal.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  4. Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media, per our Terms of Use.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind