No one seems more surprised about the reinvention of Katherine Lanpher than Lanpher herself. Not so long ago, she was a radio personality in Minnesota, a woman with a career, a house and a husband. But today, only a few years later, she’s become a New Yorker who has built a new life in the West Village. Turning away from radio, she has become a regular essayist for The New York Times and the host of the monthly “Upstairs at the Square” interview and performance event at the Union Square Barnes and Noble. And as of Oct. 10, she has also emerged as a published author, who has already received a glowing four-star book review in People magazine. It is, as she says, “a surreal time.”
Lanpher points to three profound changes in her life as the impetus for her book, “Leap Days: Chronicles of a Midlife Move.” Among them: the loss of a brother, the loss of a husband and the cross-country move which began on Leap Day, 2004 and took the Minnesota Public Radio talker to her new high-profile position as co-host of the “Al Franken Show” on Air America Radio.
Now a New York resident, living just off Washington Street, Lanpher wrote initially about her experiences as a Minnesotan discovering the Big Apple for the first time in her life, essays which were accepted by the Times and became popular pieces with visitors to nytimes.com.
The more she wrote, the more Lanpher started reflecting on the other profound periods of growth in her life, notably her time as a young journalist, her struggle to cope with her brother’s death and her decision to end a marriage. As writing came to consume more of her time, she also made the decision to leave the “Al Franken Show,” focusing instead on developing, writing and editing her “Leap Days.”
Together, these essays offer a candid and honest meditation of a life at the crossroads, a reflection of what it’s like to leave the safety of the familiar and to set out on a journey to discover something entirely new.