Author

Melissa Duclos - page 3

Melissa Duclos has 59 articles published.

received her MFA in creative writing from Columbia University, and now works as a freelance writer and editor. Her clients include many first time authors, and she delights in helping them give voice to their stories. She has recently completed work on her own first novel, Besotted, literary fiction set in Shanghai, for which she is currently seeking representation. She lives in Portland, OR, with her husband, two children, and Yorkshire Terrier, Saunders.

Why the geometry of the love triangle pulls us in

in Fiction by

Contained within the simple geometry of a love triangle are all the ingredients for an engrossing plot. There are characters (desired and desiring, therefore compelling); conflict (fights and lies and changes of heart); and resolution (someone will win, someone will lose, the triangle will be broken apart). Is it any wonder, then, that we return to these stories again and again? In his newest novel, I Loved You More (Hawthorne Books, April) Tom Spanbauer manages to give readers a fresh look at this well-worn story. Spanbauer, whose works explore issues of sexual identity, race, and family, is the author of four previous novels and the founder of Dangerous Writing. Ben, the narrator of I Loved You More, explains the appeal of…

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Living in style with Rachel Zoe

in Non-Fiction by

How often do you daydream that a celebrity stylist would come and make over your closet? If you’ve had this fantasy, chances are the stylist you’ve imagined was Rachel Zoe. A renowned Hollywood stylist, editor of The ZOE Report, Zoe now designs her own line of contemporary clothing. Her new book, Living In Style: Inspiration and Advice for Everyday Glamour (Grand Central, March 25), with a foreword by Diane Von  is almost as good as a stylist visiting to your closet. Maybe you’re not sure if you really need a style makeover, though. If you’re having trouble determining whether you’re on the fashionable path or in a deep rut, Zoe identifies six good reasons to take another look at your…

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Ready, set, test!

in Non-Fiction by

It might be time for us all to just calm down about the SAT. Earlier this month, students all over the country—1.5 million of them take the test each year—trundled off to testing centers armed with their calculators and number 2 pencils. The March test date is, of course, too late for graduating seniors, who’ve all already received the college acceptances—and rejection. This month, then, is mostly for practice: for the juniors and maybe even sophomores who want to get an early indication of their strengths and weaknesses. The test, of course, likely won’t demonstrate the takers’ actual academic strengths and weaknesses, just as prepping for the test won’t actually make them smarter or more academically prepared for college. Instead,…

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Got life questions? Ask Chelsea Handler

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“[E]veryone knows if I were left to my own devices, I could die.” So says Chelsea Handler in the final essay in her newest collection, Uganda Be Kidding Me (Grand Central Publishing, March). You might not think that someone like this would be able to give you very good advice, but that’s where you’d be wrong. Handler is a comedian, host of the E! late night talk show “Chelsea Lately,” and the bestselling author of Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me, Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang, and Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea. In Uganda Be Kidding Me, she recounts her own hilarious antics while on various vacations, along the way providing answers to your most pressing life questions.   How many…

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This St. Patrick’s Day, move beyond green beer

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Expand your knowledge of Irish food this St. Patrick’s Day with the new cookbook My Irish Table (Ten Speed Press, March), by chef Cathal Armstrong and food writer David Hagedorn. Armstrong, who grew up in Dublin and now works in Washington D.C., was named as one of Food & Wine Magazines “10 Best New Chefs 2006,” and is the owner and chef of Restaurant Eve; Eamonn’s: A Dublin Chipper; and Society Fair. He is also a board member of Fresh Farm Markets, the founder of Chefs as Parents, and was honored by the White House as a “Champion of Change.” Armstrong’s father—who planted and harvested the family garden, cooked their elaborate meals, and afforded Armstrong the opportunity to travel extensively…

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The Year of Reading Women came too late for Zelda Fitzgerald

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Siri Hustvedt’s newest novel, The Blazing World (Simon & Schuster, March 11) tells the story of a frustrated artist, Harriet (“Harry”) Burden, who presents a series of exhibits of her own work under the names of three male artists in an attempt to reveal the sexism inherent in the art world. There has of late been much attention focused on expanding the coverage and readership for women writers, and so Hustvedt’s theme of a female artist fighting for space and attention are certainly timely. 2014 has been declared the Year of Reading Women, after the hashtag #readwomen2014, started by Joanna Walsh, became part rallying cry and part celebration of the achievements of women writers. Walsh explains that she launched the project in part as a response…

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Taking care of our parents, and ourselves

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“In any given year, almost 30% of the U.S. population will be caring for an ill, disabled, or aging friend or family member.” So we are informed by Ariel Gore in her new memoir The End of Eve (Hawthorne Books, March). She goes on to explain: “The typical caregiver, it turns out, is me: An adult female with children of her own caring for her widowed mother.” Gore is the publisher and editor of the alternative parenting magazine Hip Mama and the author of seven previous works of fiction and nonfiction. Her latest book about caring for her mother is not a how-to. While she beautifully details the turbulent years after her mother, Eve, was diagnosed with Stage IV lung…

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It’s (no, not its) National Grammar Day!

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Americans have a strange relationship with grammar. Anyone who spends a significant amount of time on Facebook, or perusing the comments section on YouTube (or any website, really, where people are allowed to comment) might conclude that as a culture, we are losing our grasp on the English language. Does anyone know the difference between your and you’re anymore, or there and their? Can anyone explain what an apostrophe is really supposed to do? Despite these difficulties, or perhaps because of them, we seem to love to talk about grammar. We even have a holiday for it: March 4, National Grammar Day.  The day was established in 2008 by Martha Brockenbrough, founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good…

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Springtime (and sex!) in Paris

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Springtime—which we all have to believe is approaching—is a good time to go to Paris and fall in love. And of course the next best thing to traveling to the City of Love is to read about someone else’s life there. Whether you’re looking ahead to your own trip, or hoping to live vicariously, we’ve found two new memoirs that should satisfy your craving for all things French. In Inside a Pearl (Bloomsbury, February), author Edmund White shares stories from the fifteen years he spent living in Paris starting in the early 1980s. White—a prolific author of fiction, memoir, and nonfiction, and a cultural critic—was already a well-known writer and interpreter of gay culture when he moved abroad, and his…

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Tessa Hadley’s clever girl is just like us

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What happened to her? Where is she, we want to know.We wonder this as we read the latest from British novelist Tessa Hadley, whose Clever Girl (Harper, March) is narrated by Stella, who details the events of her life, from early childhood on. A first person narrator is of course not uncommon, but Hadley’s approach is a bit unusual as the narration occasionally shifts into the present tense, reminding us that somewhere Stella sits, an older woman looking back on her life and telling her story, from her girlhood in Bristol in the 1950s and 60s to the present. This literary device is part of what creates the tension in the book. The novel is somewhat episodic, true to real life…

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Walking in Carrie Bradshaw’s shoes

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We’ve known Carrie Bradshaw for almost twenty years, have followed the ups and downs of her turbulent relationships, her writing career, and her long-time friendships. We’ve learned where she came from, and how she first found her way to New York City. We’ve envied her escapades, her trademark wit, and of course, her wardrobe. More than anything else, Carrie Bradshaw is known for her style. And her style all comes down to her shoes.   Readers first fell in love with the character of Carrie Bradshaw in the pages of Candace Bushnell’s 1996 book, Sex and the City. Carrie truly came to life, though, in the HBO series that ran from 1998-2004, where she was played by Sarah Jessica Parker.…

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Your relationship and your waistline: a love story?

in Non-Fiction by

Valentine’s Day is upon us, and with it comes the boxes of chocolates, the pink-frosted cupcakes, the bottles of champagne. Sometimes it seems like just being in a committed relationship can be hazardous to your health. It can work the other way, though: your partner can help you get fit. A reader could be forgiven for mistaking Love Me Slender (Touchstone, February) for just another diet or weight-loss book. The authors, however—Thomas N. Bradbury, PhD and Benjamin R. Karney, PhD—are experts on relationships and marriage, not diet or exercise, and the book reflects the depth of their knowledge. The premise of the book (that couples can team up to more effectively adopt healthy habits) is based on extensive research. According…

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Take control of your love life

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Back in college, my friends and I were getting tired of dating guys who just weren’t right for us. More specifically, we were tired of spending months, or even years, with boyfriends who were completely wrong in just about every way. We were smart young women who knew what we wanted out of our relationships; the men we chose, though, were always obviously and painfully wrong. We reasoned that we could certainly figure this out more quickly if we were honest with ourselves, and each other, about our dates. Vows to be honest and look critically at our dates were all well and good, but we knew we’d need help holding ourselves accountable. And so we developed The Form: a…

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A quick guide to a kick-ass book club

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Book clubs have a bad reputation among people who like to read, mocked for being a nice excuse to sit with your friends and drink wine, but certainly not an opportunity to talk about books with fellow bibliophiles. At least, this is what I thought before I joined one. I couldn’t have been more wrong, and now, more than four years later, my book club meetings are my favorite monthly activity. Much of this, I’ll admit, has to do with the lovely women in my club who—I’m sorry—I can’t share with you. Beyond that, though, there are some factors that have contributed to my club’s success as a genuine space to talk about great books. Here are a few tips.…

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Where would you and your beer lover like to go?

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Forget pint glasses—your cabinets are stocked with Pilsner Glasses, Weizen Glasses, Tulips, and Steins. Cases of microbrews appear on your doorstep every month. Your long weekends away are determined by the ranking of America’s Best Beer Cities. On Super Bowl Sunday, you will roll your eyes at the Budweiser commercials and instead drink craft beers, or even the latest home brew. If all of this sounds familiar, then you either are a beer lover, or you live with one. If you live with one, you might be wondering about the next frontier for beer connoisseurs (so you can give a thoughtful gift, of course). Patrick Dawson’s forthcoming book, Vintage Beer: A Taster’s Guide to Brews that Improve over Time (Storey…

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Excuse me, is that local?

in Non-Fiction by

Almost ten years after the “locavore” movement (or “localvore,” depending on where you are) was officially launched in 2005 in San Francisco, it seems hard to imagine that there is anything new to say on the subject. In fact, local eating seems to have gone from a novel approach to food to a punchline on Portlandia. “The chicken you will be enjoying tonight…his name was Colin,” a waitress happily informs Fred Amisen’s character in one such sketch. While the movement can be mocked, or criticized as elitist, there are compelling arguments for eating locally, including the better taste of locally grown food, the high fuel costs associated with shipping food around the globe, and the loss of family owned and operated…

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