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Dartmouth College professor Don Sheehan in a 1997 portrait. (Courtesy of Dartmouth College Library)

On Poetry: Former Dartmouth Professor Was a Man of Orthodox Faith, but Unorthodox Humility and Insight

Friday, May 22, 2015

This column is distinctly different from any of its predecessors. In it, I will try to sell you on a book called The Grace of Incorruption, written by a great man and a great friend who died in 2010. When I tell you that the book’s subtitle is The Selected Essays of Donald Sheehan on Orthodox Faith and Poetics, you’ll see why I imagine a challenge to my efforts. Not all readers will share even my radical-Protestant Christian vision; still fewer, I’m sure, will share the late author’s Eastern Orthodox Christianity. As one who himself instinctively recoils from the very notion of “orthodoxy,” whether religious, …

Book Review: Vivian Gornick and the Ghosts of New York

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Odd Woman and the City: A Memoir by Vivian Gornick; Farrar, Straus and Giroux (176 pages, $22) Vivian Gornick’s The Odd Woman and the City is a book of ghosts. Ghosts of the past; ghosts of New York, which is for her both home and character; ghosts of a lifetime of reading, intentional and covert. These ghosts emerge when Gornick least expects …

Book Notes: Valley Native Wesley McNair Wins Award for New Book

Friday, May 8, 2015

After years of boiling down memories of his Upper Valley childhood hardships into poetry, Wesley McNair this spring harvested acclaim for exploring through verse what his mother endured growing up in the depths of the Great Depression. In April, the New England chapter of the PEN America association of writers conferred its award …

Book Notes: Alice Fogel Wins Award for Poems Inspired by Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’

Friday, April 10, 2015

Like Johann Sebastian Bach’s famous G oldberg Variations, New Hampshire Poet Laureate Alice B. Fogel’s new collection of poems, Interval, begins and ends with the same verses, titled Aria , and tucks 30 variations in between. Fogel has …

How the Bombs Reached Boston

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy by Masha Gessen; Riverhead (272 pages, $27.95) Masha Gessen does something unexpected with The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy. In a book about Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and …

A Writer’s Choice of Residence Can Influence the Written Work

Friday, April 10, 2015

One of the reasons people daydream about becoming a writer is the possibility of plying your craft anywhere you want. A beach shack in the Bahamas. A coffee bar in San Francisco. A garret in Montparnasse. All you need is a place to set down your laptop, or, …

On Poetry: For this Poet, Words Provide the Inspiration

Friday, March 27, 2015

The question I’m most frequently asked as a poet, one I mused on in my December column, is “Why doesn’t that rhyme?” In this column, I’ll look, at least to begin with, at the second most frequently asked: “Where do you get your inspiration?” Well, fact is, I’m …

Faith, Evil and Penance: Jeffrey Lent’s New Novel Revisits Post-Civil War Era

Friday, March 27, 2015

There’s a certain Slant of light, Winter Afternoons — That oppresses, like the Heft Of Cathedral Tunes — — Emily Dickinson A small religious group started by a charismatic woman is at the heart of Jeffrey Lent’s new …

With ‘Ongoingness,’ Sarah Manguso Reflects on Recording Her Life

Friday, March 27, 2015

Here’s the question at the heart of Sarah Manguso’s Ongoingness: The End of a Diary (Graywolf: 98 pages, $20): How does a writer record his or her experiences and live them at the same time? Sitting in the …

New Afterwords: Self-Indulgence, Now Available in Paperback

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Washington — The words on the book cover are in bold, italics or all-caps, meant to seduce shoppers: With a New Afterword. A New Preface by the Author. With a New Epilogue. Perhaps some people succumb. I didn’t …

Harper Lee’s Agent Dismisses ‘Elder Abuse’ Allegations

Friday, March 13, 2015

New York — Harper Lee’s literary agent says he was “surprised” that his client was believed a victim of elder abuse and asserted “categorically” that she was in “full possession of her mental faculties” and “delighted” about this …

Grieving Writer Keeps Company With a Goshawk

Friday, March 13, 2015

H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald; Grove (300 pages, $26 Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk is one of a kind, unless there are other grief memoirs/falconry tales/literary analyses out there. But really, it is one of …

Sun Shines on Boston Boy

Friday, March 13, 2015

Dennis Lehane is one of Boston’s best-known writers. Born and raised in the community of Dorchester (or, as he would pronounce it, “Dorchestah”), he’s got a Bostonian no-nonsense, tough-guy edge, and his books, including “Mystic River” and the …