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Leap Days: Chronicles of a Midlife Move Hardcover – October 10, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Lanpher, a journalist, spins cultural vertigo into comedy after forsaking her native Midwest for New York in 2004, at age 44, to cohost Al Franken's radio show on Air America—a gig that demands the good-natured wit and epigrammatic aplomb on display here. "I came of middle-age in Manhattan," she writes, a city in constant flux that strikes her as a fitting spot to undergo her own transitions. Recently divorced and largely friendless, she readily acknowledges the hurdles she faces in the Big Apple—compounded by the insecurity of living in a younger, slimmer city. But Lanpher finds kindness in the crowds, and her zingers (often flung at her own expense) render her narration upbeat. Though her name is linked with liberalism, her memoir's focus is more personal than political: a reflection on midlife's transition and a cultural comedy of manners, as she marks the rituals of becoming a "true New Yorker," growing savvy about everything from the corner bodega to the wheel-greasing "baksheesh." First flummoxed, then smitten, by Manhattan's "tough-love" demeanor and colorful hordes, she rehashes her "fish-out-of-water" encounters with poignant candor and unconcealed wonder, all in a quest to find a way to call Manhattan home. (Oct.)
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About the Author

Katherine Lanpher was most recently the co-host on "The Al Franken Show." Her writing has appeared in The New York Times and More magazine, as well as several regional newspapers. She hosts "Liberal Arts," a performance and interview show for Air America that features a diverse roster of artists and writers. Before her midlife move she was the host of Minnesota Public Radio's Midday Show.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Springboard Press; 1 edition (October 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0821258303
  • ISBN-13: 978-0821258309
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,204,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I was a few months shy of my 45th birthday and a confirmed daughter of the prairie, a lifelong Midwesterner, when I decided to turn my life upside down and take a job in Manhattan with comedian Al Franken. Before that move, I had been pretty settled in my life as a journalist and public radio broadcaster in St. Paul, Minnesota - but when I moved to New York on Leap Day 2004, more than my address changed. My whole life changed.
I like to tell people that I moved to midlife and had a Manhattan crisis.
I don't think that midlife is necessarily a chronological point in our life; I think it can also be the moment when you realize that our time on the planet really is finite and if there is adventure to be had, we should grab it. That's why I moved to New York and that's why I found myself climbing up a two-story platform at the beginning of "Leap Days'' to take my first flight on a trapeeze.
It turns out I like to leap.
I'm a writer and broadcaster who makes her home in Manhattan now. Among my varied jobs, I'm a contributing editor for More magazine and I recently taped the pilot for a satellite radio show for More.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 8 customer reviews
I love the way she can tell a story.
Karl J. Zuk
I didn't know Katherine Lanpher, I simply read the book because I love New York.
Connie G Scammell
I really loved this book and have been recommending it to all my friends.
Elinor Lipman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on November 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
After spending her entire life in the Midwest, Katherine Lanpher decided to make a clean break and move to New York City to host a radio show with Al Franken. Lanpher had already made a name for herself hosting her own show in Minnesota, where she had built an active--if not completely fulfilling--life with close friends and a husband married to the theatre. Ready to start anew after her divorce, Lanpher was understandably reluctant to leave her home, but she was tempted by the idea of a national radio program and a new life in glamorous New York.

Lanpher moved to New York on leap day and makes good use of the metaphor by starting the first chapter with her trapeze lessons, another example of her attempts to open herself up to new things, no matter how scary they may be. Throughout the book, Lanpher describes her initiation into big city life: hailing and keeping a cab, cooking for one, befriending the local butcher. Her writing is candid, and she expresses an emptiness that anyone who has ever left home can understand.

In addition to her homesickness, Lanpher finds herself feeling remarkably insecure around the gaggles of young, beautiful women on every street corner. Both of these feelings Lanpher leave her wondering if she can ever fit in. Fortunately, she has a few friends to keep her connected to the frantic world around her, each one willing to dole out advice.

But Leap Days isn't just about Lanpher's life in New York. It's also about the things that have made her the person she is today: the strength and love of her parents, the sudden death of her brother, the struggle to be a serious journalist when men controlled the field, the end of a marriage but subsequential rebirth of a lifelong friendship.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Elinor Lipman on November 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I was drawn to this book by its premise--a mid-life move to New York--expecting witty fish-out-of-water anecdotes, and, yes, Ms. Lanpher delivered. But what I also got was a beautifully written, thoughtful, compelling memoir, insightful, funny (yet poignant), foody, and self-deprecating. I really loved this book and have been recommending it to all my friends.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Solomon, Author on November 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is sheer pleasure. It's a wonderful read, and it is funny, clever, intimate, and in many instances really extremely moving. Lanpher, whose personality became public property after her work with Al Franken on Air America, comes through very much as herself, and very much in her own voice--gutsy, sweetly sentimental, rigorously honest, playful, and gentle. She writes with telling conviction and pure honesty about not having children, and the chapter devoted to this topic is really very searing and even painful. On the other hand, she writes with a dreamy nostalgia about Paris, a million miles from that anguish. Her depiction of her parents is just lovely and reflects such a fine character in such a straightforward way. The explanation of Lanpher's burgeoning feminism in elementary school, and of how it's played a determining role in her deciding to vote in every election now, was really compelling and might inspire some other innocents to the cause. But in between, there is a wit that is sharp but never acid, a becoming habit of self-deprecation, and an underlying dignity that is fully commensurate with crazy laughter. This is a wonderful book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Connie G Scammell TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I didn't know Katherine Lanpher, I simply read the book because I love New York. I had no idea she was connected to Liberalism or any of the other -isms that disgust men in general. Her experiences were typical of first-time New Yorkers and the culture shock they endure. Her style is simple yet poignant, and it really picks up halfway with her chapter on feminism ("That Girl") and how she struggled finding her way in the world of journalism.
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