• Books
  • Life Among the Savages

    In her memoir of young family life, Life Among the Savages, Shirley Jackson tells the story of the outsize influence of a child’s first grade teacher. We get a delicious profile of her daughter Jannie’s Mrs. Skinner: We had been exposed to Mrs. Skinner from about the third day of school, when Jannie came home […]

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  • Joe the Curmudgeon

    Joe Queenan is a crowd-pleaser at my house. When The Sons are home, and we are lingering after a long breakfast served at 1:00 p.m., Queenan’s Wall Street Journal column is good for a laugh. He’s a curmudgeon, especially about things modern. “Uriah the Hittite” is a family meme: [A] couple of years ago, when […]

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  • Writers on Creativity

    I like reading writers’ memoirs and their books on writing. I especially love a window into their creative process. Since I first saw it, I have been gripped by this description from Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Often when you sit down to write, what you have in mind is an autobiographical novel about your […]

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  • My Favorite Quotes from David Sedaris’ Naked

    I recently reread David Sedaris’ Naked. I originally read this book when we lived in NC. It was featured as “new from a local author” at the Chapel Hill library. The descriptions of his OCD compulsions on his walk home from school—gotta lick the ma‎ilbox—made a big impression on me. On my more recent read, […]

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  • Versatile Shirley Jackson

    Did you read the short story “The Lottery” in school? The story takes place in a small town, at an unstated time. Palpable excitement builds over a cherished town tradition. Which tradition, exactly, is revealed to the reader in pieces. We finally learn that one town member, chosen by lottery, is to be stoned to […]

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  • Words In Air

    Elizabeth Bishop Robert Lowell

    My husband and I mostly had a long distance, international, pre-Internet courtship. We wrote a lot of letters, and I have boxes of them still. One of my retirement projects will be to organize, scan, assemble, and annotate. I’m a romantic about letters. Thus, I fell in love with Words in Air. The book contains […]

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  • Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist

    I binged on two of Roxane Gay’s books: Bad Feminist and Hunger. Bad Feminist was wise. Hunger was shocking, in an impressively plainspoken way. The essay in Bad Feminist that moved me to post was “Typical First Year Professor.” This incident, in particular: When I was a student listening to a boring professor drone endlessly, […]

  • Books
  • My Favorite Novel: The Namesake

    The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri is my favorite novel. Gogol (Nikhil) is the main character. It is his name that the title references, and the book follows his life. I find him absolutely fascinating. He goes through life with a certain level of dissatisfaction with everything, a combination of self-loathing and other-loathing. His heritage makes […]