Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Jennifer Mascia

Jennifer Mascia graduated from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 2007 and has spent the last three and a half years on the Metropolitan News desk of the New York Times.

Her memoir is Never Tell Our Business to Strangers (Villard 2010).

Late last month I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
Since I'm in the news business, my reading selections are usually limited to newspapers and magazines. But I am halfway through Eat Pray Love, a choice I resisted for a while because of its runaway popularity. But Elizabeth Gilbert drew me in immediately with her authoritative and detailed explanations of the history behind her travelogue, like the origin of the Italian language -- who knew it was based on the poetry of Dante? -- and the purpose behind yoga (if you're going to sit for hours and meditate, you need to stretch a little first). Gilbert's secluded childhood on a Christmas tree farm left little available entertainment but books, and it shows -- her literary knowledge is considerable, pulling her away from the memoir pack.

Before that I read Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training by Tom Jokinen, a Canadian journalist who makes like a "Six Feet Under" character and learns the curious tradition of preserving the dead. I love non-fiction, and so little in pop culture confronts death head-on, so reading this was like peeking back behind a -- well, a curtain. As it goes along, the book makes sure to pay homage to the 1963 tome that illuminated -- and some say trivialized -- the entire industry, Jessica Mitford's The American Way of Death. It's creepy to think where our bodies eventually end up and how they get there, and this morbid curiosity kept me turning the pages.

I keep putting it off because I know it will consume me, but next on my reading list is the Steig Larsson trilogy. Wish me luck!
Read an excerpt from Never Tell Our Business to Strangers, and learn more about the book and author at Jennifer Mascia's website.

--Marshal Zeringue