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Author John Elder, far left, leads a writing workshop at the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Woodstock, Vt., on July 25, 2014, as part of the weekend Boostock event. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen)

The Nature Of Writing

Monday, July 28, 2014

Woodstock — Former Middlebury College English and Environmental Studies Professor John Elder encouraged students to see the outdoors in a new way through a workshop at the Forest Center at Marsh-Billings-Rochefeller National Historic Park in Woodstock on Friday afternoon as one part of a weekend-long annual event known as Bookstock. A group of 18 adults seated at wooden tables arranged …

‘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 …

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 …

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 …

White House Awaits Aides’ Memoirs

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Washington — Over the next month, two of President Obama’s closest first-term advisers will spill insider details on the administration’s handling of the early days of the recession, the White House’s cautious response to Syria and the genesis …

‘Claremont Boy’: The Boyhood (and Town) That Made the Man

Friday, May 9, 2014

Joe Steinfield left Claremont at age 18 to go to college and then law school, and has not lived there since. But in his mind he’s still a kid from Claremont, the place that was for him growing …

Inner Life of Bees: (It’s Not All About Us)

Friday, May 9, 2014

“The Bees” by Laline Paull; Ecco (340 pages, $25.99) Rational animals are a staple of children’s literature — and, in some cases, adult literature as well. I think of Richard Adams’ 1974 novel Watership Down, in which a …

Spy Stories From the Dawn Of a Revolution

Friday, May 9, 2014

“Russian Roulette: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin’s Plot for Global Revolution” by Giles Milton; Bloomsbury Press, N.Y. (400 pages, $28) If you want some wonderful spy stories, and a lesson in 20th century revolution, try Russian Roulette by …

Racism and Forgiveness

Friday, May 9, 2014

“The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas” by Anand Giridharadas; Norton (336 pages, $27.95) In the chaos following 9/11, with America trying to unravel the devastating attacks while wondering what might be coming next, Mark Stroman walked into three Dallas gas stations and shot three men he …

Susan Orlean, Yes, That Susan Orlean, Co-Wrote a Diet Book

Friday, May 9, 2014

On the “Books, Books and More Books” section of Susan Orlean’s website, you can find information about her acclaimed nonfiction works, her children’s book, and the cookbook she co-wrote with Cooper Gillespie, who is her dog. What you …

‘Thunderstruck’ Is Unforgettable

Friday, May 2, 2014

“Thunderstruck” by Elizabeth McCracken; Dial ($26) The stories in Elizabeth McCracken’s latest collection land as swift and true as a prizefighter’s blows, and often they feel just as powerful, emotionally speaking. Thunderstruck — how apt the title is. So many moments in these stories leave you stunned and …

Tempers Flare at ‘Flash Boys’

Sunday, April 27, 2014

New York — Somewhere in New Jersey near the now famous 1 1/2-inch black plastic tube running in a stressfully straight line to a data center outside Chicago, a broke Sergey Aleynikov wonders if he’s going back to jail for supposedly stealing a bit of mysterious high-frequency-trading computer …

Taibbi Details Fallen U.S. Ideals

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Matt Taibbi begins his sixth book, The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap, with a simple formulation: “Poverty goes up; Crime goes down; Prison population doubles.” It’s a snapshot, a way to represent what Taibbi sees as the through-the-looking-glass reality of contemporary America, where …