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Rion Amilcar Scott ‘Unapologetically’ Broaches Racism and Oppression in ‘Insurrections’

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Last night I was walking down Prospect St. in Stamford, Connecticut and I found myself trailing behind a black man wearing a black hoodie. My pace was significantly quicker than his. As I was about to turn to the front door of my apartment building, I was almost on the guy’s heels. I saw his shoulders tense up and he slowly turned around to look at me. I gave him a blinking nod. There was relief and frustration written all over his face. His eyes said, “Really? You got me all worked up like that for nothing.” He turned around as I pulled out my keys. I didn’t think much of this encounter until I realized that I was white…

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Author Cate Holahan Answers One Question about ‘The Widower’s Wife’

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The opening lines to Cate Holahan’s The Widower’s Wife (Crooked Lane Books, August 9, 2016) solidified my perpetual refusal to go on a cruise ship. Her newest thriller follows the investigation of a young wife gone missing on a cruise and she just so happens to have a lofty inheritance. Ryan Monahan, a character I’m dying for Holahan to feature in future work, is on the case to find out what happened to Ana Bacon. Her follow-up to her debut novel, Dark Turns, took me on a weaving narrative to the aftermath and the events leading up to the mysterious woman’s disappearance. Perspective is reality, as the tired, ever-relevant saying goes. For the One Question and Answer series, I asked her about the…

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MTV Suspect’s iO Tillett Wright Answers One Question about ‘Darling Days’

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The crap we go through while establishing our identity (shakes head back and forth). We often face ridicule for being different or criticized for being too much like Joe Shmoe walking down Park Avenue. You can’t win. Oftentimes people assimilate to the status quo or to what society labels as “normal.” Yeah, these people might lead fulfilling lives but do they change the trajectory of history? No, because never has an average person with average ideas and average goals ever changed the world. Nonconformists move society forward, or at least lead it down a different path. Activist, actor, writer, poet and MTV host iO Tillett Wright is one of those nonconformists. Wright’s debut memoir, Darling Days (Ecco Press, September 27, 2016) chronicles his…

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Comedian Amber Tozer Answers One Question about Her Memoir ‘Sober Stick Figure’

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Truman Capote once said about drinking, “I drink because it’s the only time I can stand it!” Along with being a quick-witted sassafras and a fabulously talented writer, Capote was a notorious alcoholic. Drinking stifled his creativity and eventually contributed to his death at the age of 59. In the beginning, drinking can open windows of thought and possibility, but too often people rely on it to get them through the day, i.e. Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, Patricia Highsmith, Tennessee Williams, need I go on? Stand-up comedian Amber Tozer gives us her story about a life-long affinity for alcohol in the sharply honest memoir Sober Stick Figure (Running Press, May 31, 2016). Having been an alcoholic since her teenage years (but…

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Author Paul Lisicky Answers One Question about ‘The Narrow Door’

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You are your own worst critic, but friends can be a close second. They know you better than most, aside from parents but even that can be up for debate. Going through a particularly rough time as a post-grad living in a new city where I know practically no one, I picked up Paul Lisicky’s The Narrow Door (Graywolf Press, January 19, 2016), a memoir about two relationships: one romantic, the other platonic. Lisicky weaves the narratives of life as a writer alongside his good friend and colleague Denise Gess and his troubled relationship with his ex-husband, poet Mark Doty. I highly recommend this fabulous book that so genuinely depicts the trials and selfish tribulations friendships evoke in us. Given…

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Author Yann Martel Answers One Question about ‘The High Mountains of Portugal’

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When you have the opportunity to ask one question to the Man Booker Prize-winning and international bestselling author of Life of Pi, Yann Martel, you better be damn sure it isn’t a stupid one. Martel’s The High Mountains of Portugal (Random House, 2016) follows three men in three different time periods who experience the profound loss of a loved one. They explore a myriad of subject matter pertinent to and beyond their respective eras searching for comfort like philosophy and religion. Based on all of this I think I found my question for this latest installment of our ‘One Question and Answer’ series. Here’s what Martel had to say: Question: You cover a wide range of topics in The High Mountains of Portugal, not…

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Author Colin Atrophy Hagendorf Answers One Question about ‘Slice Harvester’

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Food has the power to save us or kill us. Chicken salad or fried chicken? Sliced apples or French fries? Yes, we should be eating healthy and live omnivore lifestyles with walnuts, granola and grapefruit but, dammit, if I want a bacon-wrapped grilled cheese meatball sandwich I’m going to have it. Whatever your nutritional values, food invokes our communal nature to come together as people with a common goal: getting a great meal. Fellow food lover Colin Atrophy Hagendorf took his infatuation for pizza and made it the centerpiece for his memoir, Slice Harvester: A Memoir in Pizza. While chronicling his life as a self-proclaimed punk wandering around New York City, Hagendorf sets out to have himself a slice at every…

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Author Sara Nović Answers One Question about ‘Girl at War’

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Hearing about the Syrian refugee crisis is unavoidable. It has become a part of our dialogue. You can’t change the channel or scroll away from one story on the heartbreak and prejudice refugees face without running into another. Once in a while, kindness does shine through in rough times like these–the Pope just took 12 Muslim Syrian refugees back to Rome with him. But what may be most important to note, is this may be a new crisis, but it is following a familiar pattern. People have been displaced and scattered through war and genocide for centuries. Media outlets just have a short memory. The same horrors occurred for the Croatians in the 1990s. Author Sara Nović covers that seemingly forgotten time in…

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Author Emily Schultz Answers One Question about ‘The Blondes’

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It’s a beautiful spring day in the city as people stroll through the parks. Families are buying fresh greens from the farmer’s market, workers are hustling up and down Main St. to get to work. All seems well and good, until every blonde woman becomes a homicidal maniac. No, seriously. Emily Schultz uses allegorical horror and dark humor to show that nothing is really as it seems in her novel, The Blondes (Picador, paperback, April 12). Named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2015, Schultz comments on social constructs placed on women, like the need to be attractive and docile to male counterparts. Because her novel has such a wild and disturbing premise, we asked Schultz where she thinks horror fits into popular culture. Here’s her thoughts: Question: While The…

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Author Jennifer Clement Answers One Question about ‘Widow Basquiat’

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Here’s the truth: I don’t know what makes an artist, an artist. They just seem to have this inner-fire pushing them to create. I constantly struggle with what to actually call it. I don’t even know if it has a name; I just know that when people have it they really have it. Only a few people come to mind when I think of art, artists or artistry, as I recognize it to be. And one of those people is Jean-Michel Basquiat. Jennifer Clement, author of Widow Basquiat: A Love Story (Crown Publishing, 2014), writes about Basquiat’s life before he became a famous artist. Sadly, he only witnessed his own fame for a short period of time before dying of a…

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Author Eric Bennett Answers One Question about ‘A Big Enough Lie’

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These days, aspiring writers have a number of tools at their disposal. Whether that’s a specific software, a submission manager or something as simple as an Internet connection, people today have more tools than ever before to write quality work. But can all of those advantages work against them and actually distract the writer from what’s most important in their writing? Maybe the real problem is there’s just too much help available and not enough creativity. As part of our ‘One Question and Answer’ series, we asked Eric Bennett, a Providence College professor and author of his debut novel, A Big Enough Lie, a question about what is most important when trying to create a solid piece of writing. Here’s what he told us: Question: What is the most important asset a…

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Author Tracy O’Neill Answers One Question about ‘The Hopeful’

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Many writers want their stories to be as relatable as possible. The stories we know and understand are the ones we can relate to the best. Authors, such as Alice Munro, do a spectacular job in creating compelling characters that could easily resemble a relative or friend. There are some authors, however, who delve into a narrow subject matter to achieve this same connection. Recently, acclaimed writers like Junot Diaz take particular communities with characters possessing odd, quirky characteristics and use them to establish that desired relatability. In particular, author of The Hopeful, Tracy O’Neill, involves readers through her characters’ unique circumstances, specifically in the highly competitive world of figure skating and the isolation of mental illness. Her characters are cut off from…

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