The Push and Pull of Mothers and Daughters


2 Mom in GownI never met a book by Ruth Reichl I haven’t loved, and my adoration continued with this book. Where others were hearty meals, Not Becoming My Mother (retitled for the paperback as For You Mom, Finally) was a deceptively simple snack. (I’m certain that Ms. Reichl, editor of Gourmet Magazine, would find a more elegant food analogy, but I, alas, am but a quick and dirty cook, though one who loves reading the work of educated ones—like Ruth Reichl)

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mom in gown
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Give Mom Some Schadenfreude for Mother’s Day!

Two years ago ago, at an event at the incredibly wonderful Reading Public Library (in Reading Massachusetts) one of the librarians bought my second novel book, The Comfort of Liesfor her mother. For Mother’s Day. Using a large amount of not-usually-available-to-me control, I didn’t say any of the following:

“Nothing says Happy Mother’s Day like a cheating, anger, and hating-being-a-mother book!”

In fact, that’s true. Who the heck wants to get Little Women on Mother’s Day? Not me. Does anyone want  to psychically compete with Marmee?

No. I. Don’t.
I want to be feted with a pile of books that say:

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Writers on Stage: 10 Tips for Readings in Public

man with feet in water

The first time I read in public (a Grub Street open mike event at Johnny D’s in Somerville, Mass.), I sucked.

Years later (no more experienced) with my debut book launch looming, I had to do better. Pre-publication months were spent attending bookstore events with a notebook (and money*) in hand.

Many of the ‘rules’ below I learned from either the awful readings I attended or the great ones. My first lessons in how-to-not-bore-people-to-death came from listening to and watching Boston (and Grub Street) authors Steve Almond (enormously funny, edgy, and self-deprecating) and Jenna Blum (extraordinarily entertaining, honest, and generous.) Learning by watching was invaluable.

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Debut Books by Writers Over 40

(first published in 2011)

Originally, I tried to resist writing this—especially after my plea against categorizing authors.  Plus, so many of us hide our age in this world of never-get-old, unearthing this information, even in our Googlized world, was difficult.

But when , along with the plethora of lists of writers under 40, I was faced with the declaration that, as headlined in a Guardian UK article about writers, ‘Let’s Face It, After 40 You’re Past It.”

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Posted in Cultural Politics, My Opinionated Self, Writing | Tagged , , , | 64 Comments

The Book I Miss this Week: Ice Bound a Doctor’s Incredible Battle For Survival at the South Pole, by Dr. Jerri Nielson with Maryanne Vollers

icebound book

(first published in 2009)

In the continuous stream of NPR that is my life, I just learned that Jerri Nielson died of breast cancer. Dr. Nielson wrote a book I’ve read more than once, and that has now become the final solidification of my vow not to lend out well-loved books.

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A Little Santa Baby on the Side



Oh, Santa. Baby. I’ve been writing about our tortured love for how many years?

In 2009 I shamelessly pled for you, staying together until finally breaking up in 2012.

In 2013 we acted like friends with benefits.

In 2014 we pretended everything from Thanksgiving to Hanukah to Christmas was one big bacchanal for us.

Then we went to therapy.

I think this might be the year of just having a little on the side (wondering if I should have married a member outside the tribe for the sake of the tree.)

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Shop Bookish & Small! Etsy Holiday Presents for Book Lovers

write drunkI love shopping small & local, but like you I sometimes I require clicking in my pajamas. Etsy to the rescue—bringing the artist to you. Here’s ten presents for book lovers (but you can take care of everyone at this site & and still shop small.)

1. Solve the mystery of the dirty face with Sherlock soap from TeaSoapBooks



2. If you’re gifting a library user, what could be better than a ‘due date’ cuff from Accessoreads to help them remember to get those books back?

Library Due Date Bracelet

3. Carry the books home in this Madeline tote from Sharpshirter.

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heart ends
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Writer Wars, Hierarchy & Can We Get Over Ourselves?

I’ve never been without books since my addiction began at age four and I pray to have a TBR stack until the moment I die. On that heap I want it all: pounding plots, the wow of discovery, the comfort of recognition, and astounding characters. If I’m lucky, some will have all of the above. Whichever book I’m holding, I don’t want to be judged or lauded for it and I don’t want to shelve my books by race, class, or gender.

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Last Meal Stuffing


Introduction to Stuffing circa a long-time-ago

Introduction to Stuffing circa a long-time-ago

You know that sick game one plays: “If you were on death row, what would be your
last meal?” Mine would be stuffing. Not just any stuffing. This stuffing. Originally
made by my Grandma Millie, and passed to her daughter-in-law (my mother) to
me, to my sister, and now to my children. And you.

There have been many changes over the years. The original recipe had the now-discontinued Uneeda Biscuits, for which we still mourn. My sister Jill adds garlic (what!).

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Introduction to Stuffing circa a long-time-ago
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The Year Google (and Goya) Saved Thanksgiving


I don’t care how many people shed tears for the good old days, before we were so connected, before life sped before our tapping fingers: Web, thee did save me.

My sister and I may not have grown up rife with traditions–when when Jill and I hung our socks on Christmas eve, the flat unfilled sight of them the next morning may have reminded us that Santa didn’t stop for little Jewish girls–but darn it, we had the stuffing handed down from Grandma Millie. If we were on death row, our last meal would be the stuffing.

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Posted in Family, My Life, Sisters | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments