Author Archive

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.

Looking Back at Bright Lights, Big City

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The New York Times was not impressed with Bright Lights, Big City when it first appeared in 1984. “A clever, breezy--and in the end, facile documentary,” was what they said.

Communists and Cassoulet: Julia Child on Dried Herbs, Dull Knives and Joseph McCarthy

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If Julia Child and Avis deVoto were here today, they’d be great Facebook friends. Julia and Avis bonded over food—buying it, cooking it and eating it. But since they were without technology, they wrote letters, which Joan Reardon collected into a book titled As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis

Carefully Chosen Words: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Vladimir Nabokov

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One of my favorite little known facts about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is that she was a student in Vladimir Nabokov’s European Literature class at Cornell when she was an undergraduate in the 1950s. Nabokov’s influence is seen in many of Ginsburg’s writings.

The Two Holly Golightlys

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Sometimes a movie is adapted from a well-known novel that entirely eclipses the original material. Characters and plot points get rewritten then cast with A-list stars to take on a life of its own completely apart from the book. The result is two similar but separate works that each

Island Time with The Durrells

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Somewhere between Downton Abbey, Little House on the Prairie, Arrested Development and The Swiss Family Robinson are The Durrells in Corfu. The Durrells is based on the first book of classic semi-autobiographical trilogy "My Family and Other Animals," by conservationist Gerald Durrell.