Nonfiction Archive

NOTES ON THE STATE OF VIRGINIA: Journey to the Center of an American Document

This is the start of a monthly journey through Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia. I’ve loved this book for many years. It’s scholarly and luminous, unfolding a rich lexicon. Open its pages and whole rivers, chunks of amethyst, living birds, and secret mammoth skeletons tumble forth.

Review: THE PITTSBURGH ANTHOLOGY Edited by Eric Boyd

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The Pittsburgh Anthology Ed. Eric Boyd Belt Books, September 2015 236 pp; $20 Buy paperback “Pittsburgh has always been a scrappy city, characterized by unflapping tenacity, even as outsourcing and the ills of globalization threatened its survival,” writes Kevin Tasker in “Rebirth of the Hollywood Lanes,” one of the


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The City at Three PM: Writing, Reading, and Traveling Peter LaSalle Dzanc Books, December 15 2015 280 pp; $15.95 Buy paperback We read travel writers for a variety of reasons, but often it is for the vicarious thrill of the journey, somewhat akin to schadenfreude in that we can

Review: WHAT’S THE STORY by Sydney Lea

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WHAT’S THE STORY Sydney Lea, Essays Green Writer’s Press, Nov 2015 224 pp; $19.95 Buy: paperback Now in his 70s, Vermont Poet Laureate and founder of New England Review Sydney Lea presents in this collection nearly seventy lyrical meditations in prose on what he calls the biggest surprise of his

Discovering Milton Resnick

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Milton Resnick (1917—2004), was one of the most articulate and interesting of the abstract expressionists. I knew his work, but this past summer I discovered his personal history through a recently completed manuscript, Milton Resnick: Painter in the Age of Painting, by Geoffrey Dorfman, author of the well-received, Out

Review: Circus Maximus by Andrew Zimbalist

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Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup Andrew Zimbalist Brookings Institution Press, 2015 175 pages Buy: book | ebook In a way, everything about Andrew Zimbalist’s Circus Maximus is great. The book is thoroughly researched, thoroughly argued—hard to find a hole in its logic. And

10 Inspiring Books on Women’s Lives

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I never tire of learning about other women’s lives and how they were forged.  How does one construct a passionate life?  Or articulate the way one survives the throes of it?  What art can be made from mess?  My first two books circled these questions in different ways, and

Reading as Intoxicant, Part I: Neurochemical Qualities of the Modern Manic Page Peeler

Richard Wright once wrote that reading is like a drug. Countless other authors have written some variation of that same assertion. If you’ve ever found yourself crushed in a corner weeping like a crazy person because the end of your latest literary fixation was fast coming to a close,

Rehabbing the Southern Way of Life: On “The World’s Largest Man”

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At a cultural moment when it seems the Southern Way of Life needs some image rehab, the timing of Harrison Scott Key’s memoir of his Mississippi childhood is impeccable. The World’s Largest Man takes on the Southern masculine ideal, violence, race and more, all under the guise of amiable

Review: WHAT COMES NEXT AND HOW TO LIKE IT by Abigail Thomas

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What Comes Next and How to Like It Abigail Thomas Scribner, March 2015 240 pages Buy: book | ebook I was first introduced to Abigail Thomas’s work in grad school when I read Safekeeping: Some True Stories From a Life. Initially, I was startled by its economy of words,