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The masterstroke of Robert McCloskey's "Blueberries for Sal" is the sound he devised for the berries dropping into the pail.

A Quiet Mastery

Friday, July 31, 2015

They are all still happily picking, after all these years. Picking, snacking, and kuplunking their way up the rocky, spruce-dotted slopes of Blueberry Hill. Little Sal looks much the same as she did in 1948, appealingly androgynous, both in name and in appearance, dressed in overalls the straps of which keep sliding off her shoulders, her haircut the homemade kind …

Jimmy Carter Holds Ideals Close at 90

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Jimmy Carter let me down. Not with his book A Full Life: Reflections at 90 — a warm and detailed memoir of his youth followed by a clear-eyed assessment of the issues he tackled as president and afterward — but with his response to the question “Does the arc of history bend toward …

Scout’s Adult Conscience

Saturday, July 18, 2015

When I was 12, in the 1970s, I went on a trip to Alabama, my first trip to the Deep South. The occasion was a visit to a well-to-do family, connected distantly through marriage, that had made their fortune in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in timber and the railroads. Two …

‘It Never Goes Away’: Vermont Woman’s Novel Traces Grief After Sons’ Deaths

Friday, May 8, 2015

There’s a standard litany of questions you can expect to hear when you’re introduced to people. What do you do? Where do you live? And, if you happen to be middle-aged and married, or living with a longtime …

Book Review: Native Americans Won a Battle, but Lost the War

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Victory With No Name: The Native American Defeat of the First American Army by Colin G. Calloway; Oxford University Press (224 pages, $24.95) The Victory With No Name: The Native American Defeat of the First American Army by Colin G. Calloway is the true story of a …

Book Review: David Shipler Expounds on the Power of Debate and Dissent

Friday, May 8, 2015

Freedom of Speech: Mightier Than the Sword by David K. Shipler; Knopf (352 pages, $28.95) David K. Shipler calls himself a free-speech absolutist in his seventh book, Freedom of Speech: Mightier Than the Sword. “Lines are murky,” writes Shipler, a former Dartmouth College trustee, “and it’s always risky …

Russia Removes ‘Maus’ From Stores

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Russian law banning Nazi propaganda has succeeded in removing one of the greatest anti-Nazi chronicles from its bookshelves. Maus, the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel by Art Spiegelman, has been withdrawn from Moscow bookstores. In the book, which tells Spiegelman’s family’s story, Jews are portrayed as mice and Germans …

Stephen King Wins Edgar Award

Saturday, May 2, 2015

New York — Stephen King is a master of mystery as well as horror. King and Gillian Flynn were among the winners Wednesday night at the 69th annual Edgar Awards, presented by the Mystery Writers of America. King’s crime story Mr. Mercedes received the best novel prize at …

For the Love of Books, Go to Tumblr

Sunday, April 26, 2015

To express her love to Judy Blume, a 1970s tween would have had to write a letter. These days, a young reader enchanted by YA books — by, say, author Rainbow Rowell — can make nail art that matches a book cover and share it on Tumblr, where …

The Wallenberg Mystery: Dartmouth Author’s Novel Looks at the Diplomat’s Life

Friday, April 24, 2015

W hen the writer Alan Lelchuk lived in Budapest from 1999 to 2000, teaching American literature at a local university, his errands routinely took him past a statue of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved tens of …

Morrison’s Writing Still To the Point

Friday, April 24, 2015

In 1970 Toni Morrison detonated a beautiful atom bomb of a debut novel called The Bluest Eye. In telling the story of Pecola Breedlove, a little Ohio girl taught to hate her black skin, Morrison laid bare society’s poisonous obsession with racial appearance. She also introduced a theme …

Lessons From Space to Earth

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Col. Chris Hadfield has been in the space business for his entire career. A former top graduate of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, the astronaut has been on three missions, logging almost 4,000 hours in space. …

Clean Reader App Fails, Dirty Literature Prevails

Sunday, April 12, 2015

I was almost sorry to see the developers of the Clean Reader app — which would have allowed squeamish or morally didactic readers to remove profanity from books — take “immediate action to remove all books from our catalogue” in March, in response to authors outraged about their …