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Books

FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2007, file photo, author Harper Lee smiles during a ceremony honoring the four new members of the Alabama Academy of Honor at the Capitol in Montgomery, Ala. Lee, author of "To Kill a Mockingbird," said she never gave her approval to a new memoir that portrays itself as a rare, intimate look into the lives of the writer and her older sister in small-town in Alabama. "Rest assured, as long as I am alive any book purporting to be with my cooperation is a falsehood," Lee said in a letter released Monday, July 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Rob Carr, File)

‘The Mockingbird Next Door’

Sunday, July 20, 2014

What ever happened to Harper Lee? The Alabama native was 34 when her first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, was published in 1960. This tale of childhood innocence and racial injustice in the Depression-era South won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, was adapted for an award-winning film with Gregory Peck and became a staple of high school English curricula. But Lee shunned publicity and never published another novel, fueling occasional rumors that her friend Truman Capote — a childhood neighbor in the small town of Monroeville — had written or helped write Mockingbird. Lee went silent, but To Kill a Mockingbird endures, an American classic. …

Gordimer Grasped The Power Of Writing

Friday, July 18, 2014

Nadine Gordimer, who died Sunday at age 90, understood the power of writing as a moral force. Not only in terms of literature (although that too) but also politically, in a country — apartheid-era South Africa — where such commitment carried a high price. We think of Gordimer as an international figure, winner …

An American Commons: Photographic Study Celebrates Public Libraries 

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Public Library: A Photographic Essay, by Robert Dawson, Princeton Architectural Press, 192 pages, $35 Long before I could define philanthropist, I held Andrew Carnegie in the highest esteem. When I asked, at 10, why “Carnegie” was carved into the stone over the pillared portico of the Solvay Public Library in my upstate …

Authors and Alcoholism

Friday, June 20, 2014

Our culture has a way of romanticizing the booze-addled scribe, the rakish writer quick with a quip: Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Cheever, Tennessee Williams, Raymond Carver. These were masters of American letters. These were also incorrigible …

Poet Laureate Charles Wright Can Be Hard To Reach

Friday, June 20, 2014

Charles Wright once said, “I want to be the anonymous author.” But for 44 years this modest Southerner has been publishing poetry, and the accolades have kept arriving: a National Book Award, a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book …

‘My Struggle’ Traces a Long Quest for Meaning in Daily Life

Friday, June 20, 2014

My Struggle: Book Three: Boyhood by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett; Archipelago (428 pages, $27) Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle is the buzz book of the moment — or more accurately a certain kind of buzz book, for a certain kind …

Young Adult Novels Are Not for Old Adults

Friday, June 20, 2014

Since The Fault in Our Stars barreled into theaters this month virtually guaranteed to become a blockbuster, it can be hard to remember that once upon a time, an adult might have felt embarrassed to be caught reading the novel that inspired it. Not because it is bad …

‘Hard Choices’ an Easy Read

Sunday, June 15, 2014

She hasn’t decided yet. Or if she has, she’s not telling. But if Hillary Rodham Clinton does run for president in 2016, her new book Hard Choices, a chronicle of her four years as secretary of State, leaves …

Ghosts of the Great War

Sunday, June 8, 2014

What Americans know about World War I is probably nothing to brag about. How it started may be a mystery to many. Why the United States got involved, just as befuddling. Baby boomers may know something about the …

Celebrating a Curious Character

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Most small towns can be counted upon to have their own scribe, the person who records and commemorates its history, and West Windsor is no exception. For a time in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Daniel …

Warm Summer Air Carries Writers’ Voices to the Upper Valley

Friday, June 6, 2014

The way some of us who still enjoy driving will from time to time sit back and trust the wheel to another pilot, devoted bookworms in the Upper Valley this summer will find many opportunities to leave the …

A President’s Faith

Friday, June 6, 2014

In 1976, Jimmy Carter won the presidency on a wave of public disillusionment with government. After Watergate, Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace in 1974, and the Vietnam War ended in 1975 with the fall of Saigon. The economy …

‘Portlandia’s’ Batty Bookstore Duo B ids for Emmy Attention

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Los Angeles — Portland’s best known feminist bookstore owners are headed to Los Angeles this week, and they mean business. Funny business. Toni and Candace, the bohemian couple who run the Women and Women First bookstore in IFC’s quirky sketch comedy Portlandia, will be squaring off with a …