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Posts Tagged ‘The Atlantic’

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This week we feature “3 Questions” with Cullen Murphy, author of Cartoon County: My Father and His Friends in the Golden Age of Make-BelieveMr. Murphy is the editor-at-large at Vanity Fair and the former managing editor of The Atlantic Monthly. (He is  also the brother of the The Long Haul author and truck driver Finn Murphy who visited The Norwich Bookstore last year.)

Cartoon County tells the story of Mr. Murphy’s father — John Cullen Murphy – the illustrator of the wildly popular comic strips Prince Valiant and Big Ben Bolt, and a man who had been trained by Norman Rockwell. Cartoon County focuses on a period of time in the last century when many of the the nation’s top cartoonists and magazine illustrators – including Mr. Murohy’s father – were neighbors in the southwestern corner of Connecticut. This book, through the lens of the author’s relationship with his father, brings the postwar American era and life in the arts alive.

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Mr. Murphy will appear at the Norwich Bookstore at 7 pm on Wednesday, January 17th. This Norwich Bookstore event offers an excellent opportunity to learn about this unique place and time in the 20th century. This event is free and open to the public. However, reservations are recommended as space is limited. Please call 802-649-1114 or email info@norwichbookstore.com to save a seat and/or secure your autographed copy of Cartoon County.

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1.What three books have helped shape you into the writer and editor you are today, and why?

A Sense of Where You Are, by John McPhee. This was McPhee’s profile of Bill Bradley as a Princeton basketball player, and I read it in college. It made me aware of the possibilities of a certain kind of literary reporting. Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome. A teacher gave me this nineteenth-century romp when I was in seventh grade in Ireland–there was a kind of high-end silliness about it that has offered a reminder ever since not to take yourself too seriously. Big Story, by Peter Braestrup. Peter was a mentor, and this book was his account of how the press reported the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. It was influential because the account offers many cautionary tales; because it demonstrated that a journalist could do scholarly work; and because I watched him research and write it even as he held a full-time job, showing how that was done.

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2.What author (living or dead) would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?

Maybe William James. From what I can tell just from his writing–I’ve never read a biography, and should–he seems to have combined an omnidirectional mind and a genial disposition. And for someone who was at his peak around the turn of the last century, he comes across as someone whom you could bump into tomorrow and think you were meeting a contemporary. You would never think that about his novelist brother.

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3.What books are currently on your bedside table?

Munich, by Robert Harris. I’m a big Robert Harris fan, and would especially recommend his Rome trilogy, built around Cicero. (Also Pompeii–the opening scene is a classic.) Dinner at the Center of the Earth, by Nathan Englander. I’ve loved Englander’s work ever since reading the early stories of his that we published in The Atlantic. And Grant, by Ron Chernow. Anything by Chernow is worthwhile. Although Hamilton has gotten the most attention–for obvious reasons–I was captivated by his biographies of Rockefeller and Washington.

NOTE: As part of our mission to promote authors, the joy of reading, and to better understand the craft of writing and the living of life, we’ve paired with the The Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont to present an ongoing series entitled “3 Questions”. In it, we pose three questions to authors with upcoming visits to the bookstore or bookstore related venues. Their responses are posted on The Book Jam during the days leading up to their engagement. Our hope is that this exchange will offer insight into their work and will encourage readers to both attend these special author events and read their books.

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As part of our mission to promote authors, the joy of reading, and to better understand the craft of writing, we’ve paired with the The Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont to present an ongoing series entitled “Three Questions”.  In it, we pose three questions to authors with upcoming visits to the bookstore. Their responses are posted on The Book Jam in the week leading up to their engagement. Our hope is that this exchange will offer insight into their work and will encourage readers to attend these special author events.

We are thrilled to welcome Scottish-born writer Margot Livesey to the Book Jam. She is the best selling author of six books, including Eva Moves the FurnitureThe House on Fortune Street and her newest, a “retelling” of Jane Eyre,  The Flight of Gemma Hardy (2012) which is set between Scotland and Iceland in the 1960’s.  Ms. Livesey is also the current Fiction Editor at Ploughshares, a renowned literary journal, and her work has appeared in The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthly. She has taught writing at many institutions such as Bowdoin College, Brandeis University, WIlliams College, Tufts University, and The Iowa Writer’s Workshop. For more information about her reading on Wednesday, March 14th or to reserve a seat, please contact The Norwich Bookstore at (802) 649-1114. This promises to be a very special event.

1) What three books have shaped you into the author you are today, and why?

The terrible novel I wrote while travelling round Europe and North Africa at the age of twenty-one, because it made me realise that I’d entirely failed to be influenced by all the wonderful novels I’d read.  Jane Eyre because it is such a wonderful example of a passionate first person narrator and it made me think about how to create a heroine rather than a woman character.  It’s also a fabulous example of the importance of setting in a novel.

2.What author (living or dead) would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?

George Eliot.  In its scope, ambition and accomplishment Middlemarch is one of the great novels.  I don’t think Eliot would be a particularly easy person to have coffee with – I can imagine awkward silences and then rather long rants – but I do think she’d have something interesting to say about almost everything.

3.What books are currently on your bedside table?

Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night, Alan Shapiro’s wonderful debut novel Broadway Baby, Eleanor Henderson’s Ten Thousand Saints – another debut novel that recreates the 80s with amazing vividness, and Eleanor Catton’s The Rehearsal which is set in an all girls school and is so beautifully and intelligently written.

From Lisa Christie: While we often do not have the chance to read the latest work by an author before their visits to the Norwich Bookstore, I was able to read Ms. Livesey’s The Flight of Gemma Hardy in time for this “Three Questions” post.  Set in Scotland and then Iceland in the 1960s, this book provides an homage to Jane Eyre, while still remaining its own novel.  As a huge fan of both Scotland and Iceland, I truly enjoyed the sense of place she created — I could feel the wind of the moors and the sea and … Basically, this novel is a just a fun read – think of it as a beach read for March, and I think fans of Jane Eyre will be especially intrigued, or maybe annoyed or… So please join the two Lisas of The Book Jam in Norwich on Wednesday, March 14th at 7 pm for Ms. Livesey’s reading and discussion at the Norwich Bookstore.  But, call 802-649-1114 soon to reserve your seat because, as always, seating is limited.

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