Marian Fontana has been a writer and performer for over twenty-five years.

As a writer, her articles have appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Salon.com, The Guardian and more. Her memoir, A Widows Walk was published by Simon and Schuster and was as the Top Ten Great Reads of 2005 by People magazine and the Washington Post’s Book Raves of 2005. A Widows Walk was on the New York Times best selling biography list and was nominated for a Books for A Better Life Award.


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V is for Virginia


Martha and I are extremely different. She is shy and soft spoken. I am not. She is blonde. I am a brunette. Martha is a Republican. I am not. She lives in Long Island. I live in Manhattan.
But we both lost our firefighter husbands on September 11th and have shared the secrets of our loss that forged a friendship as deep as it is unlikely.
For about ten years after our husbands died we vacationed with[...]

U is for Underwear

It is true what they say about underwear. You should always have a good pair on just in case something happens. I was hit by a car at eleven years old and I was wearing bottom of the drawer, blown out elastic, period stained, faded white panties. As the EMT workers cut my brown Lee corduroys off, I didn’t care that my leg was facing the wrong direction, I was mortified to be wearing nasty[...]

T is for Tasting Neon

If raising my son were a job, I would have quit when he turned sixteen. When people ask me how old he is I roll my eyes and say he just turned asshole.   The teen years have been so challenging, I find myself staring at photos of him as a toddler to remember that I still like him.

I know teenagers are supposed to be obnoxious. It is their job to shit in the nest in[...]

S is for Speech


Welcome families, friends, teachers and staff and most importantly students.

Congratulations on making it to your graduation.

I am honored to deliver your commencement address today even though next to my algebra regents, this is one of the hardest assignments I’ve ever had.

I know I am supposed to impart wisdom, inspire you and give you sage advice.

My first recommendation is that you never agree to do a commencement speech. This has not been easy, but you are[...]

R is for Roach

One of my first jobs after college was working at a Children’s Theater. My sister and I auditioned together by singing “Our House” by Crosby Stills and Nash in two-part harmony. We were asked a series of questions and we were cast in their new show, “Bugs and Other Insects” that was to be performed on weekends at the museum and tour through the Public Schools during the week.

As rehearsals began, I realized my sister[...]



This American Life With Ira Glass


With Tom Brokaw

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