Author Archive

Review: THE WIDOW’S GUIDE TO EDIBLE MUSHROOMS by Chauna Craig

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Most of the stories in The Widow’s Guide to Edible Mushrooms, Chauna Craig’s debut collection, are set in the American West, centered on characters who often identify closely with their geography ... And while Craig convincingly portrays a range of characters, her work is particularly striking when she writes

Review: AFTER THE DAM by Amy Hassinger

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But although Dam contains intriguing traces of family saga and love story, there is nothing formulaic about this layered novel, an often lyrical elegy to the natural world that raises environmental and feminist questions about boundaries of property and self, the reconciliation of love and principles, and the limits

Clearing off the Cobwebs: Seneca Falls, New York and the first Women’s Rights Convention

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I was hopeful a few weeks ago, on Halloween weekend, when I drove to Seneca Falls, New York. There, in 1848, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and other reformers organized the first Women’s Rights Convention...

Just Mercy: Visiting a Local Prison with Former Death Row Inmate Anthony Ray Hinton

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A year ago, I first read Bryan Stevenson's book Just Mercy, a compelling memoir about his work as an attorney and a convincing indictment of the injustices of our current legal system. Now, I have the opportunity to accompany death row exoneree Anthony Ray Hinton, who was defended

“A Big Book for People to Wander Inside”: the Appeal of Writers’ Houses

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I’m fascinated by writers’ homes and museums, regularly drawn to them, though visiting them I often feel restless, as if something is missing. After all, what do buildings full of photos and objects, dioramas and paintings and film clips and clothing, have to do with great writers or favorite

Mark Twain and Literary Caves

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On road trips, I’ve taken to stopping at caves. Cave systems may be the last undiscovered regions on earth, but I go to the tourist ones, the long-since-discovered and heavily trampled ones, the kind that only require a jacket and sneakers, not a hard hat, Coleman Lantern, or rope.

Review: WHISKEY, ETC.: SHORT (SHORT) STORIES by Sherrie Flick

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In her miniature portraits of a failed salesman transformed through food, a forgetful elderly woman, a young woman making dinner for a sometime-boyfriend at the same moment that he is dying, Flick examines seduction and heartbreak, the complications of new relationships, the dynamics of long-time ones, love, loss, and

Looking for Anne of Green Gables in Prince Edward Island

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In June of 2008, I took an “Anne-tastic” tour, as one website put it, of Prince Edward Island, home of Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables. This summer, on another June day, I head back to PEI.

An Angel Choir, Titans of Industry, and a Writers’ Festival: Western New York’s Chautauqua Institution

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When I arrive in early June to teach at the Writer’s Festival, the Chautauqua Institution is a ghost town. The lake laps against the shoreline and the proliferation of white wicker chairs on the historic Athenaeum hotel veranda are mostly empty.

A Setting out of a Horror Story: Reverse Mirdered at the Red Rim Hotel

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A few years ago, while on a road trip, I glimpsed a sign advertising a motel that I’ll call the Red Rim Motel, because that’s close enough, and will give you some idea of why I did a double-take. The name of the motel made me immediately think of