The Ballad of Lois Duncan and Kait Arquette

  Nobody did suspense better than Lois Duncan. Throughout my childhood, her paperbacks were always in drugstores, libraries, and bookstores. The covers usually had a beautiful girl scared about something. She had the seventies parted hair, beautiful complexion. Duncan hated it when her books were called horror. She preferred the term suspense. No matter what… [Keep Reading]

Mrs. Cleary at 100

Four years ago I sent a short essay about Beverly Cleary’s birthday to KQED’s Perspective series. The editor Mark read it and enjoyed it, but will anyone else remember Beverly Cleary? He asked his colleagues. Instantly they responded with their favorite characters and plot lines: Henry Huggins trying to get a paper route! Ralph S…. [Keep Reading]

Here’s to the Swans

One of my favorite novels of 2016 is The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin. It details Truman Capote’s friendships with several high profile women, calling them his “Swans.” The Swans were beautiful, married well or were lucky enough to be born wealthy. They weren’t stupid, oh no. They loved to read, see movies,… [Keep Reading]

Pat Conroy’s wide wide water

Pat Conroy was born to a dysfunctional family. It was a blessing and a curse. The eldest of seven, Conroy was physically and verbally abused by his father, then was an unwilling witness as Donald Conroy did the same to his brothers and sisters and their beloved mother Peggy. One time during a family altercation,… [Keep Reading]

In Cold Blood Turns 50

The morning of November 16, 1959 must’ve started off like any other for Truman Capote. He lit up a cigarette, ate breakfast, and read the New York Times. No doubt he had plans for the day. Writing, of course. Lunch with Babe Paley, one of his “Swans” at 21. No doubt he saw an ad… [Keep Reading]

Harriet Klausner, Book Lover

Years ago when the Internet had that new car smell, there was a new website called Amazon. They were a bookstore where you could buy books online. I remember seeing it and thinking yeah, good luck with that. They have Barnes and Noble and Borders to compete with. Do I know how to pick them… [Keep Reading]

Elegy for The Storyteller

Sixteen years ago, I was asked to work temporarily at the Lafayette Library. One of the clerks had cancer and had to take several months off for medical leave. I said yes. I needed a change. It was becoming apparent that I was going to leave the library soon. It was just a matter of… [Keep Reading]