Sam Oglesby, 70, of Mott Haven, says that his newest book was borne out of two emotions: forgiveness and forgetfulness.
Oglesby grew up in Virginia, during a time of segregation, and after graduating from the University of Virginia he travelled across the world in his 30-year career working for the UN. In his travels, he encountered a variety of people and places. These all appear in his second book, “Encounters: A Memoir – Relationship Journeys From Around the World,” which was just published and has already received at least one honor: an honorable mention from the New York Book Festival 2010, in the Autobiography category. “Princes, paupers, clowns, villains, sinners and a few saints,” Oglesby says in his Amazon author description of the characters that appear in the book.
Oglesby’s first book was also a memoir, but he says the second time around was far more challenging.
“The first book was kind of easy to write. I just sat down at the keyboard and let it flow,” says Oglesby. “But then a couple of years later I thought, there are still more things to say.” In writing “Encounters,” Oglesby grappled with questions of how much to reveal about his personal life or how much to hold back, as well as worrying about hurting people in his life by sharing too much.
The “forgiveness” involved in the writing of the book involved Oglesby’s own family demons. “I was a bad guy when I was younger,” he says. “I’m better now, but I never picked up the phone and told my parents, and some other people, that I was sorry and ashamed, and felt bad for hurting them. They passed away before I could make good with them.”
Writing another memoir is Oglesby’s way to make it up to them, and to say what he needs to say to his parents.
The “forgetfulness,” meanwhile, refers only to Oglesby’s shoddy memory.
“I always meet people from my past and they say ‘Hey, wasn’t that a gas when we did this or that?’ And I say Gee, I don’t remember that,” admits Oglesby with a laugh. “So I wanted to write all this stuff down before I forget it.”
Oglesby has some heated views on the topic of the publishing industry, as well. “Encounters” is a print-on-demand, self-published book, and he believes that self-published work ought to get more recognition from mainstream media outlets and reviewers. For now, they often go overlooked, but at the very least, Bronxites wishing to read about his travels and memories can find Oglesby’s books on Amazon.com, where he also blogs occasionally, sharing thoughts like: “They say we humans all have one book in us. As a two-time author… I’m wondering: what’s the limit. Do we writers all have a fixed amount of talent which we expend after….one or two or three books?”
As a writer, he has not yet expended his energy. Even after this second book, Oglesby still has more to say. He has begun work on a third book, Yellow Fever, which will be another memoir, though with fictional elements.
“I spent most of my life in Asia, and I want to write about the fatal attraction of Westerners to Asia,” he says. For now, the author continues to live in Mott Haven with his partner Ari. The two met on a department store escalator in Jakarta, Indonesia, and even he doesn’t escape mention in the book — part of Ari’s story can be found in Chapter 11.