Shakespeare & Company A Body of Water June-July 2024

Local man puts memoirs on their own shelf

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COPAKE–This website is for memoirs only.

The name of Copake resident Howard Blue’s new Internet book sales business and the website in question is http://memoirreviews.com.

For too long memoirs have been treated like “a poor relation, ” relegated to sharing bookshelves labeled biography or European history, while cook books, fairy tales, mysteries and most other book genres have their own places in book shops and libraries, says Mr. Blue in a press release about his new business.

Now the memoir has a home, or at least a website of its own, where Mr. Blue has listed more than 1,000 memoirs on a variety of topics. He says it’s the largest list of memoirs in print. Working in partnership with Amazon.com, which owns the inventory, Mr. Blue receives a portion of the profits from the book sales.

Speaking from Puerto Rico via cell phone earlier this month, Mr. Blue explained the memoir is a subset of the autobiography. It doesn’t necessarily deal with someone’s whole life, just some portion of it.

He gave an example, “The Birthday Party: A Memoir of Survival” by Stanley N. Alpert, in which the author tells the story of how he was randomly kidnapped, his captivity and how he talked his kidnappers into letting him go. The whole ordeal took place in about 25 hours.

Memoirs also tend to be written in a literary style, which includes dialogue and the kinds of descriptions not usually found in autobiographies, said Mr. Blue.

One of his recent favorite memoirs is “The Last Resort” by Douglas Rogers, a page-turner in which Mr. Rogers’ parents, a white Zimbabwean couple who own a resort, hold out against President Robert Mugabe’s drive to push all whites out of the country where they and their children were born.

Mr. Rogers now lives in Brooklyn, and his parents still live on the land they bought decades ago.

For 32 years, Mr. Blue was a high school teacher of U.S. and European history and the Russian language on Long Island.

An author, he wrote “Words at War,” a non-fiction work about how radio helped the World War II war effort. He also had his translation of a short story by Leo Tolstoy published.

He started putting together his memoirs website last July. The site also has reviews of memoirs, and Mr. Blue, who is 68, has plans to include interviews.

He has interviewed Art Carney, Arthur Miller, Pete Seeger and John Eisenhower in the past, and the website will soon feature a video of an interview Mr. Blue recently did with Sergei Khrushchev, son of the former Soviet leader. The younger Mr. Khrushchev wrote a memoir about his father: “Nikita Khrushchev and the Creation of a Superpower.”

Mr. Blue is currently working on his own memoir, which he calls a “roots story.” He found descendants of his ancestors from Poland and Russia, all of whom he thought were killed in the Holocaust, living in Minneapolis.

Two part-time employees currently help Mr. Blue with the business, and he hopes to expand to hire a local webmaster and a researcher/book reviewer.

Mr. Blue and his wife, Deborah Goldberg, moved to Copake in 2002 after a friend in Germantown introduced them to Columbia County.

After looking at many properties that were not as advertised, they finally found a house at Taconic Shores through Louise Miller.

Calling the house a “handyman special,” Mr. Blue said that on their way back to Long Island after having closed the deal on the property, he and his wife could not recall any details about the house, but could remember everything about the view.

To contact Diane Valden email dvalden@columbiapaper.com.

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