REPLAY Ep. 71 A Heroine Rocks the Boat with Tori Murden McClure 3-32-21

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Our guest this week, Tori Murden McClure, is a Renaissance woman. She has a law degree, a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard as well as a Master of Fine Arts from Spalding University, the institution where she currently serves as President. She was the first woman and first American to ski 750 miles to the geographic South Pole. She worked as an assistant to Muhammad Ali at the Ali Center, and has served as a chaplain in Boston area hospitals. But what she is most known for is her solo journey to successfully row a boat across the Atlantic Ocean in 1999. Ten years later, she published her memoir about that experience, A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Now, a little over ten years after publication, her book and story have a new life. A musical about her experience has been created, and her boat is part of the Frazier Museum’s Cool Kentucky exhibit.

The book, which we discuss with Tori in this week’s episode, has a lot to do with 2020 in a roundabout way because it is about her battle with feelings of helplessness stemming from her childhood. And who in this world hasn’t been experiencing feelings of helplessness during this global pandemic? We can all relate to wanting to do something but not being able to.

Tori talks to us about why memoir is in its own way is just another type of fiction, what completely different pieces of advice she received from her writing mentors during her MFA program that shaped her book, how her desire to write a book about a hero’s journey as a woman can be tricky and hasn’t been done often, and why we didn’t see her memoir as an Oprah book club selection.

If you would like to see Murden’s sailless and motorless plywood boat The Pearl, it is on exhibit at the Frazier Museum in Louisville KY. This is a permanent exhibit but several items are on short-term loan.

The album Row is a concept album about Tori’s journey rowing across the Atlantic written by Dawn Landes. It can be found on Amazon music. These songs are part of the musical Row which will be available via Audible in the Spring of 2021. Tori Murden McClure’s memoir can be found at your favorite bookstore or library.

Books mentioned in this episode:

1- A Pearl in the Storm by Tori Murden McClure 2- When Memory Speaks: Reflections on Autobiography by Jill Kerr Conway 3- Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl 4- Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin 5- A Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh 6- Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson 7- Shakespeare's plays 8- Iliad and Odyssey by Homer 9- Dante's Inferno 10- Small Spaces by Katherine Arden 11- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi 12- Hildegard of Bingen: The Woman of Her Age by Fionna Maddocks 13- Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession 14- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman 15- The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

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