Maureen Corrigan

Maureen Corrigan, book critic for NPR's Fresh Air, is a critic-in-residence and lecturer at Georgetown University. She is an associate editor of and contributor to Mystery and Suspense Writers (Scribner) and the winner of the 1999 Edgar Award for Criticism, presented by the Mystery Writers of America.

Corrigan served as a juror for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. Her book So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came To Be and Why It Endures was published by Little, Brown in September 2014 (paperback forthcoming May 2015). Corrigan is represented by Trinity Ray at The Tuesday Lecture Agency: trinity@tuesdayagency.com

Corrigan's literary memoir, Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading! was published in 2005. Corrigan is also a reviewer and columnist for The Washington Post's Book World. In addition to serving on the advisory panel of The American Heritage Dictionary, she has chaired the Mystery and Suspense judges' panel of the Los Angeles TimesBook Prize.

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3:00pm

Wed May 13, 2015
Book Reviews

Misadventures And Absurdist Charm Take Root In 'George Orwell's House'

Originally published on Thu May 14, 2015 11:31 am

Emily Bogle NPR

In 1946, reeling from the death of his wife and seeking an escape from the demands of London literary life, Eric Blair, aka "George Orwell," moved to a cottage on the isle of Jura off the west coast of Scotland. What the place lacked in modern conveniences like electricity and running water, it perhaps made up for in misty views of the Atlantic and samplings of the local whiskey.

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1:41pm

Tue May 5, 2015
Book Reviews

'One Of Us' Examines The Damaged Inner Terrain Of Norwegian Mass Shooter

Originally published on Wed May 6, 2015 8:08 am

Emily Jan NPR

Columbine; Port Arthur, Australia; The Sikh Temple of Wisconsin; Newtown — the list goes on and on. And, by now, the elements of this type of massacre have become ritualized: usually one, but sometimes more than one, deeply disaffected person, almost always male, who is heavily armed with guns and/or explosives, targets the innocent. In the aftermath, which sometimes includes a trial, the crucial question of "Why?" is never really answered. Instead, most of us are left to wonder how any human being, however twisted, could be capable of such horror.

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3:25pm

Tue April 21, 2015
Book Reviews

Revisiting A Suburbia-Gone-Sour In Ross Macdonald's Crime Fiction

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 4:54 pm

Ross Macdonald had a smart answer to the tedious question of why he devoted his considerable talents to writing "mere" detective stories: Macdonald said that the detective story was "a kind of welder's mask enabling writers to handle dangerously hot material." Like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler (the great hard-boiled masters whom he revered), Macdonald set out to excavate the dark depths of American life, but to find his own "dangerously hot material" Macdonald descended into uncharted territory.

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2:29pm

Tue April 14, 2015
Book Reviews

'The Children's Crusade': A Heavily Plotted Family Saga To Dive Into And Savor

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 5:13 pm

Ann Packer's new novel, The Children's Crusade, opens in California, on a scene that's so bedrock American, it's borderline corny.

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3:38pm

Mon March 30, 2015
Book Reviews

Open A Critic's 'Poetry Notebook' And Find The Works That Shaped Him

Clive James — an author, critic, broadcaster, poet, translator and memoirist — was diagnosed with leukemia a few years ago.
Courtesy of Liveright

Clive James' most anthologized poem is commonly known by its first two lines: "The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered/And I Am Pleased." Those lines tell the uninitiated almost all they need to know about the pleasures to be found in reading James: chief among them, his wit and his appreciation of the underlying absurdity of so much literary effort — including his own.

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2:37pm

Wed March 25, 2015
Book Reviews

Do You Believe In Ghosts? You Might After Reading This Book

Originally published on Thu March 26, 2015 6:13 pm

Who doesn't love a good ghost story? The unseen hand moving a cup or the shadow climbing a staircase promises an existence beyond our mundane realities. Hannah Nordhaus' new book, American Ghost, is an offbeat mishmosh of memoir, cultural history, genealogical detective story and paranormal investigation, but it opens in the classic manner of spooky tales — with a sighting.

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3:39pm

Thu March 12, 2015
Book Reviews

How We Deal With Loss In Different Ways In Two Beautifully Written Memoirs

Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 7:16 pm

Loss is the rough tie that binds two memoirs that, otherwise, are as different as day and night. What Comes Next and How to Like It is a sequel of sorts to Abigail Thomas' best-selling 2006 memoir, A Three Dog Life, which chronicled the one-two punch death of her husband — by her account, a sweetheart of a guy who took their dog out for a walk one afternoon in New York and was hit by a car. He suffered brain injuries and lingered for five years. Even after that catastrophe, more losses now loom for Thomas.

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2:09pm

Thu March 5, 2015
Book Reviews

In 'The Buried Giant,' Exhausted Medieval Travelers 'Can't Go On,' But So 'Go On'

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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2:19pm

Tue March 3, 2015
Book Reviews

'Welcome To Braggsville' Isn't Quite 'Invisible Man,' But It's Close

Emily Jan NPR

Here's only a partial list of great American writers whose names came to mind as I was reading T. Geronimo Johnson's new novel, Welcome to Braggsville: Tom Wolfe, Mark Twain, Toni Morrison, H.L. Mencken, Don DeLillo, David Foster Wallace, Norman Mailer and Ralph Ellison, Ralph Ellison, Ralph Ellison. Johnson's timely novel is a tipsy social satire about race and the oh-so-fragile ties that bind disparate parts of this country into an imperfect and restless union.

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3:09pm

Mon February 23, 2015
Book Reviews

Victorian Romance Meets 'House Of Cards' In 'Mr. And Mrs. Disraeli'

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 5:11 pm

A climb "to the top of a greasy pole" are the immortal words coined by 19th century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli to describe his rise to political power. Disraeli was two-time prime minister under Queen Victoria, as well as a novelist and famous wit whose way with a catchy phrase was rivaled in the 19th century only by his younger admirer, Oscar Wilde. But when he entered politics in the 1830s, Disraeli was burdened by debt and, even more seriously, by his Jewish parentage.

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2:07pm

Tue February 10, 2015
Book Reviews

Funny If It Weren't So True: A Farce About 'The Importance Of Beauty'

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 4:54 pm

Amanda Filipacchi is also the author of the novels Nude Men, Vapor and Love Creeps.
Marion Ettlinger Courtesy of W. W. Norton & Company

"Does this obituary make me look fat?"

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2:21pm

Thu January 29, 2015
Book Reviews

In 'Outline,' A Series Of Conversations Are Autobiographies In Miniature

The narrator of Rachel Cusk's new novel Outline is a novelist and divorced mother of two who has agreed to teach a summer course in creative writing in Athens. The novel itself is composed of some 10 conversations that she has with, among others, her seatmate on the plane flying to Greece, her students in the writing class, dinner companions and fellow teachers.

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1:17pm

Mon January 26, 2015
Book Reviews

These 13 'Almost Famous Women' Stirred Up Trouble, Or Trouble Found Them

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 2:17 pm

One of Megan Mayhew Bergman's short stories is based on the life of dancer and actress Butterfly McQueen.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Almost Famous Women is the kind of "high concept" short-story collection that invites skepticism. These stories are about 13 historical women whose names you mostly might sort-of recognize. Beryl Markham, Butterfly McQueen and Shirley Jackson are slam-dunks, but Romaine Brooks and Joe Carstairs are a bit blurrier. While the family names of Allegra Byron, Dolly Wilde and Norma Millay betray their relation to important figures, we don't know what they did. And who the heck was Hazel Eaton or Tiny Davis?

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1:28pm

Wed December 31, 2014
Book Reviews

In 'Death By Pastrami,' Charming Stories Of New York's Garment District

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 2:58 pm

Hulton Archive Getty Images

No, it's not a posthumously published mystery novel by the late, great composer and conductor. Rather, Death by Pastrami by Leonard S. Bernstein is a collection of short stories mostly about life in the garment district of New York City. This Leonard Bernstein knows whereof he writes: He owned and managed a garment factory; now, in his 80s, he's published his first work of fiction, making him a veritable Grandma Moses of the garment district.

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3:42pm

Mon December 15, 2014
Book Reviews

Sometimes You Can't Pick Just 10: Maureen Corrigan's Favorite Books Of 2014

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 1:12 pm

Rows of characters enjoying reading books.
Gustav Dejert Ikon Images/Getty Images

For this year's Best Books of the Year list, I reject the tyranny of the decimal system. Some years it's simply more than 10. Here, then, are my top 12 books of 2014. All of the disparate books on my list contain characters, scenes or voices that linger long past the last page of their stories. In fact, The Empire of Necessity by Greg Grandin, which is my pick for Book of the Year, came out in January and I haven't stopped thinking about it since.

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