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About Roger Rosenblatt
Rosenblatt has also written seven off-Broadway plays, notably the one-person Free Speech in America, that he performed at the American Place Theater, named one of the Times's "Ten Best Plays of 1991." Last spring at the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, he performed and played piano in his play, Lives in the Basement, Does Nothing, which will go to the Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook, and the Flea Theater in New York in 2021. He also wrote the screenplay for his bestselling novel LAPHAM RISING, to star Frank Langella, Stockard Channing, and Bobby Cannavale, currently in production.
The Distinguished Professor of English and Writing at SUNY Stony Brook/Southampton, he formerly held the Briggs-Copeland appointment in creative writing at Harvard, where he earned his Ph.D. Among his honors are two George Polk Awards; the Peabody, and the Emmy, for his essays at Time magazine and on PBS; a Fulbright to Ireland, where he played on the Irish International Basketball Team; seven honorary doctorates; the Kenyon Review Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement; and the President's Medal from the Chautauqua Institution for his body of work.
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Prize-winning essayist Roger Rosenblatt has commented on some of the most important trends and events of our time in insightful columns in Time and discerning commentaries on PBSNewshour with Jim Lehrer. But at the dawn of a new millennium, Roger found himself facing an issue that he couldn’t talk his way out of: getting old.
Luckily, aging couldn’t dull his wit, and he turned his sharp pen to creating a survival manual for the twilight of life. These fifty-four brilliant, funny, and indispensable rules range from how to handle a bad hair day (or a no hair day) to knowing the difference between humor and comedy to learning that, in the end, none of these little worries really matter. Practical, wise, and funny, Rules for Aging offers not only a new mantra for an older generation but “a guide for those in the younger generation who want to learn from the mistakes of their elders” (Newsday).
From Roger Rosenblatt, author of the bestsellers Making Toast and Unless It Moves the Human Heart, comes a moving meditation on the passages of grief, the solace of solitude, and the redemptive power of love
In Making Toast, Roger Rosenblatt shared the story of his family in the days and months after the death of his thirty-eight-year-old daughter, Amy. Now, in Kayak Morning, he offers a personal meditation on grief itself. “Everybody grieves,” he writes. From that terse, melancholy observation emerges a work of art that addresses the universal experience of loss.
On a quiet Sunday morning, two and a half years after Amy’s death, Roger heads out in his kayak. He observes,“You can’t always make your way in the world by moving up. Or down, for that matter. Boats move laterally on water, which levels everything. It is one of the two great levelers.” Part elegy, part quest, Kayak Morning explores Roger’s years as a journalist, the comforts of literature, and the value of solitude, poignantly reminding us that grief is not apart from life but encompasses it. In recalling to us what we have lost, grief by necessity resurrects what we have had.
"This is a gorgeous book, one that will inspire anyone to make the next sentence."—Jericho Brown, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry 2020
"A hymn of praise for the craft of weaving words in order to survive."—Kitty Kelley
Roger Rosenblatt has always been “mad about the writing life.” In this new collection, he shares the stories and insights about writing that have inspired him, as a journalist, a columnist for The Washington Post, an essayist for Time magazine and The New Republic, and then as the author of best-selling books like Making Toast, Rules for Aging, Kayak Morning, and Unless It Moves the Human Heart. The new and beloved pieces in The Story I Am: Mad About the Writing Life, drawn from his vast body of work, celebrate the art, the craft, and the soul of writing.
Here are essays and excerpts on the rewards and punishments of the life of a writer, along with thoughts on how to write, what to write, and why writing lies at the heart of human hope and experience. Reviewing Rosenblatt’s memoir The Boy Detective in the New York Times Book Review, Pete Hamill said Rosenblatt “writes the way a great jazz musician plays, moving from one emotion to another.” For Rosenblatt, writing, like jazz, is the art of improvisation. Rosenblatt writes that “Writing makes justice desirable, evil intelligible, grief endurable, and love possible.” In a nutshell, it’s worth a life.
"A booster shot of wisdom when we need it most."—Alan Alda
"Cold Moon knocked me on my ass then held out its hand and hauled me back up, tossing me into the brawling fray, joyous and more hopeful than ever." —Paul Harding, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of Tinkers
The Cold Moon occurs in late December, auguring the arrival of the winter solstice. Approaching the winter solstice of his own life, Roger Rosenblatt offers a book dedicated to the three most important lessons he has learned over his many years: an appreciation of being alive, a recognition of the gift and power of love, and the necessity of exercising responsibility toward one another. In a rough-and-tumble journey that moves like the sea, Rosenblatt rolls from elegy to comedy, distilling a lifetime of great tales and moments into a tonic for these perilous and fearful times. Cold Moon: a book to offer purpose, to focus the attention on life’s essentials, and to lift the spirit.
“A painfully beautiful memoir….Written with such restraint as to be both heartbreaking and instructive.”
—E. L. Doctorow
A revered, many times honored (George Polk, Peabody, and Emmy Award winner, to name but a few) journalist, novelist, and playwright, Roger Rosenblatt shares the unforgettable story of the tragedy that changed his life and his family. A book that grew out of his popular December 2008 essay in The New Yorker, Making Toast is a moving account of unexpected loss and recovery in the powerful tradition of About Alice and The Year of Magical Thinking. Writer Ann Beattie offers high praise to the acclaimed author of Lapham Rising and Beet for a memoir that is, “written so forthrightly, but so delicately, that you feel you’re a part of this family.”
The acclaimed, award-winning essayist and memoirist returns to fiction with this reflective, bittersweet tale that introduces the irrepressible aging poet Thomas Murphy—a paean to the mystery, tragedy and wonder of life.
Trying his best to weasel out of an appointment with the neurologist his only child, Máire, has cornered him into, the poet Thomas Murphy—singer of the oldies, friend of the down-and-out, card sharp, raconteur, piano bar player, bon vivant, tough and honest and all-around good guy—contemplates his sunset years. Máire worries that Murph is losing his memory. Murph wonders what to do with the rest of his life. The older mind is at issue, and Murph’s jumps from fact to memory to fancy, conjuring the islands that have shaped him—Inishmaan, a rocky gumdrop off the Irish coast where he was born, and New York, his longtime home. He muses on the living, his daughter and precocious grandson William, and on the dead, his dear wife Oona, and Greenberg, his best friend. Now, into Murphy’s world comes the lovely Sarah, a blind woman less than half his age, who sees into his heart, as he sees into hers. Brought together under the most unlikely circumstance, Murph and Sarah begin in friendship and wind up in impossible possible love.
An Irishman, a dreamer, a poet, Murph, like Whitman, sings lustily of himself and of everyone. Through his often-extravagant behavior and observations, both hilarious and profound, we see the world in all its strange glory, equally beautiful and ridiculous. With memory at the center of his thoughts, he contemplates its power and accuracy and meaning. Our life begins in dreams, but does not stay with them, Murph reminds us. What use shall we make of the past? Ultimately, he asks, are relationships our noblest reason for living?
Behold the charming, wistful, vibrant, aging Thomas Murphy, whose story celebrates the ageless confusion that is this dreadful, gorgeous life.
The Washington Post hailed Roger Rosenblatt's Making Toast as "a textbook on what constitutes perfect writing," and People lauded Kayak Morning as "intimate, expansive and profoundly moving." Classic tales of love and grief, the New York Times bestselling memoirs are also original literary works that carve out new territory at the intersection of poetry and prose. Now comes The Boy Detective, a story of the author's childhood in New York City, suffused with the same mixture of acute observation and bracing humor, lyricism and wit.
Resisting the deadening silence of his family home in the elegant yet stiflingly safe neighborhood of Gramercy Park, nine-year-old Roger imagines himself a private eye in pursuit of criminals. With the dreamlike mystery of the city before him, he sets off alone, out into the streets of Manhattan, thrilling to a life of unsolved cases.
Six decades later, Rosenblatt finds himself again patrolling the territory of his youth: The writing class he teaches has just wrapped up, releasing him into the winter night and the very neighborhood in which he grew up. A grown man now, he investigates his own life and the life of the city as he walks, exploring the New York of the 1950s; the lives of the writers who walked these streets before him, such as Poe and Melville; the great detectives of fiction and the essence of detective work; and the monuments of his childhood, such as the New York Public Library, once the site of an immense reservoir that nourished the city with water before it nourished it with books, and the Empire State Building, which, in Rosenblatt's imagination, vibrates sympathetically with the oversize loneliness of King Kong: "If you must fall, fall from me."
As he walks, he is returned to himself, the boy detective on the case. Just as Rosenblatt invented a world for himself as a child, he creates one on this night—the writer a detective still, the chief suspect in the case of his own life, a case that discloses the shared mysteries of all our lives. A masterly evocation of the city and a meditation on memory as an act of faith, The Boy Detective treads the line between a novel and a poem, displaying a world at once dangerous and beautiful.
Multiple award-winner Roger Rosenblatt has received glowing critical acclaim for his exceptional literary works—from the hilarious novels Lapham Rising and Beet to his poignant, heartbreaking, ultimately inspiring memoir Making Toast. With Unless It Moves the Human Heart, the revered novelist, essayist, playwright, and respected writing teacher offers a guidebook for aspiring authors, a memoir, and an impassioned argument for the necessity of writing in our world. In the tradition of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Rosenblatt’s Unless It Moves the Human Heart provides practical insights and advice on the craft, exquisitely presented by one of contemporary literature’s living treasures.
In this insightful collection, an accomplished essayist and humorist offers a class in “Tyranny for Beginners;” warns about the snares of dinner parties; explains the mind-set of barbarians; suggests the perfect gift for Mother—a wildebeest—and tells what happens when his dog’s barking drives him to thoughts of murder.
Roger Rosenblatt forces us to laugh at the silliness of the world we have created, refocuses our minds on what really matters, and alerts us to the injustice and cruelty that lie just below the skin. A recipient of a Peabody Award, an Emmy, and two Polk Awards, and the author of Rules for Aging and Making Toast, he offers an entertaining and enlightening read filled with his “trademark droll wit” (Tulsa World).
“The best thing about reading an essay by Rosenblatt is that he makes you think.” —Town & Country
“It took courage to do what Spalding did—courage to make theatre so naked and unadorned, to expose himself in this way and fight the demons in public. In doing so, he entered our hearts—my heart—because he made his struggle my struggle. His life became my life.”—Eric Bogosian
“Virtuosic. A master writer, reporter, comic and playwright. Spalding Gray is a sit-down monologist with the soul of a stand-up comedian. A contemporary Gulliver, he travels the globe in search of experience and finds the ridiculous.”—The New York Times
In 2004, we mourned the loss of one of America’s true theatrical innovators. Spalding Gray took his own life by jumping from the Staten Island ferry into the waters of New York Harbor, finally succumbing to the impossible notion that he could in fact swim to Cambodia. At a memorial gathering for family, friends and fans at Lincoln Center in New York, his widow expressed the need to honor Gray’s legacy as an artist and writer for his children, as well as for future generations of fans and readers. Originally published in 1985, Swimming to Cambodia is reissued here 20 years later in a new edition as a tribute to Gray’s singular artistry.
Writer, actor and performer, Spalding Gray is the author of Sex and Death to the Age 14; Monster in a Box; It’s a Slippery Slope; Gray’s Anatomy and Morning, Noon and Night, among other works. His appearance in The Killing Fields was the inspiration for his Swimming to Cambodia, which was also filmed by Jonathan Demme.
The beloved New York Times bestselling author Making Toast and Kayak Morning returns with a powerful meditation on a universal subject: love.
In The Book of Love, Roger Rosenblatt explores love in all its moods and variations—romantic love, courtship, battle, mystery, marriage, heartbreak, fury, confusion, melancholy, delirium, ecstasy; love of family, of friends; love of home, of country, of work, of writing, of solitude, of art; love of nature; love of life itself.
Rosenblatt is on a quest to illuminate this elusive and essential emotion, to define this thing called love. Cleverly using lines from love songs to create a flowing ballad—as infectious and engaging as a jazz riff—he intersperses fictional vignettes that capture lovers in different situations, ages, and temperaments along with notes addressed to “you,” his wife of fifty years. “The story I have to tell is of you. Of others, too. Other people, other things. But mainly of you. It begins and ends with you. It always comes back to you.”
Lively yet profound, poignant yet joyous, The Book of Love is a triumph of intellect and imagination: a personal discourse on love that is both novel and timeless.
Roger Rosenblatt’s dazzling comic gifts are on enviable display....Beet will settle the issue: is Roger Rosenblatt our most audacious comic visionary,or our most audacious visionary comic?”—Joyce Carol Oates
Beet College is doomed...and nobody really cares. The Board of Trustees, led by developer Joel Bollovate, has squandered the endowment. Debutante-cum-self-styled-poet Matha Polite, an indiscriminate radical with a four-student following, wants to bring the institution down. Sweet-tempered terrorist hopeful Akim Ben Ladin (né Arthur Horowitz) sits in his off-campus cave and dreams about blowing Beet up. Faculty members are too busy concocting useless, trendy courses to do anything about it. Not to mention that American higher education is going down the tubes, one less lesser school isn’t going to matter. So why is Professor Peace Porterfield trying to save Beet? Beats us.
“Rosenblatt [applies] his sharp wit to elite education.”—Wall Street Journal