Author Archive

Solving the Mystery of Close Quarters: Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express

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In Murder on the Orient Express we are told that in the dead of winter nobody travels from Istanbul to Calais on the Orient Express. So, what better time to plot the elaborate murder of a supremely evil American businessman known to be traveling on that train.

Pictures of You: Understanding Life Through Memoirs

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The need to figure out why we are who we are is what drew me to Elissa Altman’s memoir Treyf, a bittersweet and touching memoir of the author’s growing up years in 1970s New York City and Queens.

Nora Ephron and the Lost Art of Magazine Writing

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It's my opinion that Nora Ephron never should have left journalism. Sure there was a lot more money to be made writing and directing major motion pictures like When Harry Met Sally or Sleepless in Seattle, but Ephron had a gift for magazine writing.

Sweet and Sour Paris

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The more I read about Paris, and whenever I am lucky enough to travel there, I want to know what Paris is really like, not just what I want it to be like. You don’t have to sugar coat it for me.

Summer Travel: Ghost Hunting Across Europe With Jessa Crispin

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Crispin traveled to Europe chasing literary ghosts and looking for answers. The resulting memoir and travelogue takes on the twin themes of trying to understand the lives of others while hoping to make sense of her own confusing history.

At the Seashore With Rachel Carson

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Under the Sea-Wind takes readers to the ocean and illustrates through the power of words and a few elegant line drawings a fascinating and complex world most of us never stop to consider.

Literary Lessons for Turbulent Times

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Here in America our expectations are grand. School followed by college, followed by a good job, a good marriage, a nice house in a good neighborhood where we’ll raise some good children who will have even more good things than we have. It’s the American Dream.

The Familiarity—and Unfamiliarity—of William Gibson’s Neuromancer

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The brilliance of Neuromancer and what won it every literary award available—the Nebula, the Philip K. Dick and the Hugo—is its breakneck storytelling, which combines high technology, a classic tale of corporate greed, war, revenge, and politics with some dazzling writing.

Is Life Imitating John le Carré’s The Little Drummer Girl?

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Navigating through the hairpin twists and turns in le Carré novels is always fun and almost always challenging. In his Cold War novels, such as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the plot is a subtle game of cat and mouse. The Little Drummer Girl was a change of pace.

Understanding Team Mom in The Joy Luck Club

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Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club is more than a book about mothers and daughters, although it's easy to choose sides while reading the generational 1989 novel.