Book Keeping: A Reader's Community

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Table Manners

Just in time for the holidays, Jeremiah Tower, and his editor, Will Schwalbe talked through the difference between restaurant manners and home manners, serving a forgotten guest, and the ideal dinner party.

spiegelman splash

I never set out to write a memoir. Nor did I set out to become old. Apparently I have managed to do both, first the second, and then the first. Hence, Senior Moments: Looking Back, Looking Ahead, whose title was wittily suggested by one of my friends last year. I can’t remember which one, however.

witold 1

I’ve recently been touring around giving talks and readings in bookstores, libraries, and colleges. The subject is my latest book, Now I Sit Me Down, a history of the chair. A common question from the audience is “What is your favorite chair?” I think that the implied question is actually “What is your favorite chair design?” But I prefer to answer it literally. I have come to the conclusion that what makes a chair a “favorite” is not the way it looks, or the fame of its designer, but rather the way it is used.


Although there’s much more research to do, playing and learning go together. Clearly, letting children play is important. But is there any more to say about the role of caregivers? Can parents somehow help children play better?


He woke every night at the same time, the small hours — when it was darkest. His upper torso jerked; his eyes opened. His hand flailed for the lamp on the bedside table but met the impediment of the mosquito net. It took a moment or two to lift the net and find the switch on the base of the lamp, then he would sit upright, breathing heavily, absorbing the paradox of having woken so hot that he was damp and cold.

They May Not Mean To but They Do

Acclaimed for blending wry humor and crystal-clear truth, Cathleen Schine now explores the quandaries of eldercare through the eyes of a vibrant matriarch who has no interest in aging gracefully. Joy Bergman has stood by her husband for nearly a lifetime, but as he slips further into dementia and their finances dwindle, she faces exasperating […]

Miroslav Penkov

Miroslav Penkov’s debut novel, Stork Mountain, is full of “strange and vertiginous language.” It was with great pleasure that we asked him about the Balkan lineage of his book and what he’s reading lately.

They May Not Mean To but They Do

Molly Bergman moved to California, and it broke her mother’s heart. There are daughters who spend their lives trying to escape their mothers, who move to their particular California the minute they’re able to, who never stop moving to California.


Henry Forge and his daughter, Henrietta, are the heirs to one of Kentucky’s oldest and richest families. According to Forge family mythology, their lineage can be traced back to the white settlers who first crossed the Cumberland Gap in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War.

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos

While I was writing The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, I surrounded myself with images from the 17th century, especially paintings and engravings of the Dutch Golden Age. I wanted to write a novel that came out of the gaps and silences of art history.

The Oldest Boy by Sarah Ruhl

When writing my play The Oldest Boy, which involves an American child recognized as a Tibetan tulku, I often called people in the Tibetan community for help and insight. I’ll never forget when I first wrote to an eminent Tibetan scholar, asking to have a conversation about reincarnation, and he wrote back immediately, “I am happy to talk with you, as your play might benefit other sentient beings.”

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith

This is what we long for: the profound pleasure of being swept into vivid new worlds, worlds peopled by characters so intriguing and real that we can’t shake them, even long after the reading’s done. In The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, Dominic Smith deftly bridges the historical and the contemporary, tracking a collision course between a rare landscape by a female Dutch painter of the golden age, an inheritor of the work in 1950s Manhattan, and a celebrated art historian who painted a forgery of it in her youth. In this excerpt, we are introduced to the eponymous painter.

The Lost Time Accidents by John Wray

Who better to inaugurate our All in a Day’s Work series than John Wray, itinerant sunpatch hopper and professional novelist funnyman? As he roamed Kings County in search of inspiration and capuccinos, we asked him to record his wanderings. The result, as you see, is a prototypical Wray in the Life. John’s newest novel is The Lost Time Accidents.

Save Room for Pie by Roy Blount Jr.

Roy Blount Jr. is one of America’s most cherished comic writers. He’s been compared to Mark Twain and James Thurber, and in his latest work, Save Room for Pie, he applies his much-praised wit and charm to a rich and fundamental topic: food. Here Blount examines the Yankee distrust of that most litmus-like of vegetables— okra!

The Secret Life of American Musicals by Jack Viertel

Americans love musicals. Americans invented musicals. Americans perfected musicals. But what, exactly, is a musical? And how does love make it onstage? In The Secret Life of the American Musical, which MORE has praised as an “engaging, insightful anatomy of a singularly American art form,” Jack Viertel takes musicals apart and puts them back together. We are proud to share this excerpt with you today!

What Lies Between Us by Nayomi Munaweera

Author Nayomi Munaweera won the Commonwealth Regional Prize for Asia for her first novel, Island of a Thousand Mirrors, so it was with great anticipation that were able to ask her about her followup, What Lies Between Us, out last week from St. Martin’s Press.

What Lies Between Us by Nayomi Munaweera

My second novel, What Lies Between Us, is primarily concerned with the lifelong effects of childhood trauma, how it colors and flavors a person in ways that they must contend with throughout their life. The book is also an exploration of motherhood and maternity in America. In my opinion, much of our culture is tragically unsupportive of mothers.

Leonard by William Shatner

Leonard Nimoy was more than just a pretty half-Vulcan face. He also enjoyed a successful recording career, conducted numerous photographic projects, and even—you may not know this—published seven books of poetry. In this section from Leonard, William Shatner’s reminiscence of their friendship, he recalls the passion behind Nimoy’s famous impassivity.

Every Anxious Wave by Mo Daviau

From her new forever home in Portland, Oregon, author Mo Daviau reflects on what makes a writing community, the importance of first books, and her favorite bookstore in the world (which curiously is not Powell’s!). Every Anxious Wave is her first novel.

Every Anxious Wave by Mo Daviau

The secret to why I wrote a time travel novel is in my book’s dedication. I’m not a big science fiction reader. The inscription reads, For my father, George Daviau (1910-1992), who, by the stretch in our years, made me a time traveler.