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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 …

Duncan Hines: An Early Food Celebrity

Sunday, June 1, 2014

“Mention the name ‘Duncan Hines’ to Americans under 55 today and the image their minds will undoubtedly conjure is a cake mix package,” writes Louis Hatchett in the introduction to Duncan Hines: How a Traveling Salesman Became the …

Searching for White’s Maine

Saturday, May 24, 2014

When I pulled off I-95 near Augusta, Maine, I needed gas and caffeine. But something else was even more pressing. The cover of E.B. White’s book One Man’s Meat that I had torn off and affixed to my …

A Tongue-in-Cheek Guide for the Newly Wealthy

Friday, May 23, 2014

“It goes without saying that the foundation of social climbing is money. It is really no good without it.” So begins Chapter One of a slim but instructive volume by Lincoln Kerney titled The Art of Social Climbing. …

Tolkien’s 1926 Translation of ‘Beowulf’ Printed

Friday, May 23, 2014

“Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary” by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien; Houghton Mifflin, NY (448 pages, $28) One does not casually read Beowulf. It takes commitment. It also takes a good translation, and few were better at …

Legendary CIA Operative Robert Ames Gets His Due in New Biography

Friday, May 23, 2014

“The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames” by Kai Bird; Crown (448 pages, $26) The collapse last month of America’s latest efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal marked another spin in the relentless cycle of heartache, conflict and terrorism in the Middle East. Arguably …

‘Why We Stay’ in Royalton

Friday, May 23, 2014

‘Why We Stay,’ a documentary photography project of Chris Cammock and Nate Larson, releases its second book this evening at the Royalton Memorial Library in South Royalton with a reception from 5:30 to 7:30. Cammock and Larson, who …

Film, TV Productions Flock to Bay State

Friday, May 23, 2014

Devens, Mass. — Desi Van Til describes her film Tumbledown as a love letter to her home state of Maine. Van Til wrote the indie movie that stars Jason Sudeikis and Rebecca Hall and is based on her …

Ruth Reichl Returned to The Kitchen For Novel

Friday, May 23, 2014

When magazine publishing giant Condé Nast announced in 2009 that it was closing Gourmet magazine, editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl suddenly found herself unmoored. “My basic philosophy is that when you’re in trouble, do the hardest thing,” Reichl says by phone from her home in upstate New York. “Do the …

Book Tackles Duke Lacrosse Scandal

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The details you may recall of the March 2006 Duke lacrosse scandal are likely scant. If the constant spin of the 24-hour news cycle hasn’t erased all of them from your memory, you may remember that three members of a lacrosse team were erroneously charged with the rape …

Cheney Examines Madison

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Washington — He was sure in his views, exercised power behind the scenes, helped lead the nation after it was attacked and suffered from a serious health condition. His accomplishments are also under-appreciated. At least, that is how …