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Frank Lloyd Wright

Fabulous literary spring break destinations

in Potpourri by

I was swapping ideas one night with a friend about where we would go for an inspirational weekend of no-costs-barred fun, if we could. Winter was dragging. The college kids at the school where he taught were starting to plan their spring break and we were way too old for that. “Someplace where writers would go,” I said. “Someplace strange, but great.” I didn’t want a beach trip or some international adventure. I just wanted to be inspired and see something new. My friend had just told me about the day he’d spent in France when he had accidentally found himself touring Gertrude Stein’s famous apartment, which had been the epicenter of the literary salon scene in 1920s Paris. In…

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New wives’ tales: ‘Significant others’ are filling bookstore shelves

in Nonfiction by

‘Significant others’ are filling the bookstore shelves. With subjects ranging from Dickens to the American presidents, a burgeoning literary subgenre investigates the influence women have had on famous men. Especially now, with Hillary Rodham Clinton’s memoir, Hard Choices, topping the New York Times bestseller list, it’s high time the women had their say. Hail to the First Lady Curtis Sittenfeld’s American Wife (2008) is one of my very favorite novels. Laura Bush’s life might not sound like promising material, but this fictional autobiography is a pure delight. When shy librarian Alice falls for Charlie, heir to the Blackwell political dynasty, private tragedies from her past—and her disagreement with her husband’s policies—threaten to emerge. The well-drawn characters defy caricature, but it’s…

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