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Q&A with David Plante, Author of ‘American Stranger’ and ‘Difficult Women’

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Brought up in a secularized Jewish household on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Nancy Green knows little about her parents’ past. She knows they were World War II Jewish refugees who were able to escape Germany with precious family heirlooms that are constant reminders of a lost life and a world about which Nancy knows very little. In David Plante’s novel, American Stranger, (Delphinium Books; January 9, 2018) the main character, Nancy, has a longing for some kind of spiritual connection that first leads her into an encounter with a Hasidic Jewish man who, unable to find meaning in his own religion, has taken vows to become a monk. She then becomes romantically involved with Yvon, a Catholic college student in…

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Review of ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’: Does J.K. Rowling Break New Ground?

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Well, here we are. The “last” tale of the Harry Potter saga from J.K. Rowling and this time it hits the stage on London’s West End. Harry Potter and The Cursed Child (Arthur A. Levine Books, July 31, 2016) penned by Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, continues the story of The Boy Who Lived and his friends now all grown up, approaching middle age with more adventures awaiting them, and their children. With Cursed Child being the first of the Potter series to break from the novel structure, I was interested to see how the Wizarding World would translate to the stage. But I guess I’m going to have to stay interested for a while because there’s just no way I can afford…

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Forget Pie. You’ll Want to Make These Thanksgiving Alternatives from Violet Cakes Bakery

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This may sound like sacrilege, but on Thanksgiving I don’t do pie. That doesn’t mean we don’t have pie; a fantastic local farm kitchen fills that need, but I don’t bake pies. Ever. While I do terrific fillings, the alchemy that results in a tender, flaky crust has always eluded me. Instead, I prefer to tempt guests to save a little room with a dessert they don’t expect. To dazzle them, this year I’m turning to The Violet Bakery Cookbook by Claire Ptak (Ten Speed Press; September 29, 2015). One of the things I love about Ptak’s recipes is her emphasis on flavor over appearance and her judicious use of refined sugar and flour. Like everyone else, my family includes…

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J.K. Rowling Drops Harry Potter Play Details and My Potterhead Self is Freaking Out

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In the Most. Exciting. News. EVER., J.K. Rowling has officially released the synopsis and poster for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II (It’s most definitely NOT a prequel, people!) which is hitting the stage July 2016, and the Potterhead in me is jumping for freaking joy. Previews for the play will begin in late May 2016 (Ugh, that’s SO far away!), and sadly it’s only debuting in London. I mean, I get it. Harry Potter = London. It’s the obvious fit to debut the play, but my heart may not be able to handle it. Our hearts are all a flutter, though, thanks to the synopsis that was just released, and we’ll take what we can get until we can afford a…

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Happy 450th birthday, Will: recommended reading for Shakespeare Day 2014

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April 23 marks the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. How to celebrate the greatest writer in the English language? My alma mater, Hood College, hosts an annual library book sale, complete with a birthday cake for the Bard. Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon hosts a literary festival, where The Bookshop Band will premiere songs inspired by his plays, and European airline EasyJet is sponsoring a campaign to have April 23 officially recognized as “Shakespeare Day” (UK residents are invited to sign their petition). To that end, EasyJet is featuring Shakespeare’s likeness on an Airbus 319 and commissioning a live performance of Romeo and Juliet by the Reduced Shakespeare Company on a flight to Verona. (Tweets welcome: #shakesonaplane to @easyjet.) Of course,…

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