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Works:
Please click on the title of each book to see reviews.

Lost Among the Baining: Adventure, Marriage, and Other Fieldwork

I never thought I would write a memoir—I've seldom written about myself at all—but my most recent book, Lost Among the Baining, is definitely a memoir.  It is also a travel book, and it is very much a love story. 

 

The book looks back with wry humor on two life-changing journeys.  The first, a field trip I took with my husband to live with the Baining people of Papua New Guinea, was a fiasco that haunted us for years.  The second, our redemptive return to the Baining forty years on, gave our story a whole new ending.   

 

Lost Among the Baining was inspired partly by an essay I wrote for the travel pages of the New York Times. Like that essay, the book casts a comic eye on the experience. But for all its humor, this is a  story that deals with culture shock and the profound differences between cultures: the assumptions that we bring, the fears that we have, and the judgments that we make. 

Faint Praise: The Plight of Book Reviewing in America

More than 150,000 books are published annually in America.  Which are selected for review?  Who reviews them?  Why does the novel that reviewers call "astonishing" so often turn out to be no more than mediocre, and the nonfiction that reviewers call "excellent" no more than a padded-out magazine article?  How does book reviewing work and why does it so often fail?

 

Emerging from an award-winning essay I wrote for Boston Review, Faint Praise gives readers an inside view of professional reviewing.  Taking a historical perspective, the book looks at the persistent problems that haunt the field: the overabundance of books, the short supply of funds, the multiple pressures of publicity and bias, the difficulties inherent in the very act of reviewing. 

 

Written for a broad audience—for readers who use reviews to choose their reading as well as people in the book field and people simply interested in cultural media—Faint Praise aims to change the way we read and write reviews.

 

 

Other People's Mail: An Anthology of Letter Stories

Other People's Mail offers 17 modern letter stories, written by an international group of authors that includes Alice Munro, Nadine Gordimer, and Julio Cortazar. Each tale provides a distinct variation on the compelling letter theme: Who, after all, is immune to the seduction of reading other people's mail?

 

Widely and enthusiastically reviewed when it appeared, Other People's Mail is the only anthology of epistolary fiction to have been published in this country.  Fortunately, it sold well—indeed, it sold out.  But unfortunately, it has not been reprinted.  Please seek it out in one of our wonderful used bookstores.