Last week I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
Since I finished writing an intensively researched biography of three women who lived, collectively, more than two hundred years, I've been drawn to reading slim efficient tales.Marshall's The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism won the Francis Parkman Prize, awarded by the Society of American Historians, the Mark Lynton History Prize, the Massachusetts Book Award in nonfiction, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in biography and memoir.
Calvin Trillin's About Alice told me how I would like to be loved -- and mourned, when the time comes; Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach was a sad reminder of the opposite, but also a lesson in good story-telling.
I've always been a fan of rowing -- not the kind you do in fancy shells with seats that slide out from under you, just plain old pulling away at the oars on a dinghy or almost any sort of tub that's not too tippy. So I've been enjoying Rosemary Mahoney's Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman's Skiff.
Most satisfying of all, Anne Fadiman's At Large and at Small, a second collection of essays written during her years as editor of The American Scholar -- celebrating everything from coffee to ice cream to nineteenth-century innovations in the British postal service. Fadiman can make a delectable literary confection of any subject she chooses. I have eaten them all, and you should too.
She is an assistant professor at Emerson College where she teaches narrative nonfiction writing and the art of archival research in the MFA program. She is at work on a biography of Ebe Hawthorne, Nathaniel's brilliant and reclusive older sister.
She wrote in Slate about reading the Peabody sisters' letters.
The Page 99 Test: The Peabody Sisters.