Category Archives: NY Times

‘Off Course,’ by Michelle Huneven

Layout 1A doctoral dissertation not getting written is never just a doctoral dissertation not getting written. It’s always a stand-in for something more consequential (take it from a former grad student who knows). But when we encounter Cressida (Cress) Hartley, the protagonist of Michelle Huneven’s fourth novel, ‘Off Course,’ she doesn’t realize this yet. In fact, she has just persuaded her parents to allow her to live in their vacation cabin in California’s Sierra Nevada for “three months free and clear,” so that she can ‘bang . . . out’ her dissertation in economics.”

May 23, 2014 – The New York Times

Writer’s Retreat. ‘Off Course,’ by Michelle Huneven

By Naomi Fry


‘Harvard Square’ by André Aciman

1“But I couldn’t forget my days and evenings at Café Algiers where I’d come because that small underground café at the time was the only place this side of the Atlantic I could almost call home. The smell of Turkish coffee, the French songs they played here, the verbal fireballs of a Tunisian nicknamed Monsieur Kalashnikov and the chatter of the men and women who’d gather around when he presided, down to the clammy, wooden dampness of my tiny square table next to which hung a makeshift poster of a deserted beach in a coastal town called Tipaza, its turquoise sea forever limpid and beckoning, everything in this small coffee shop reminded me of a Middle East I thought I had lost and put behind me and suddenly realized I wasn’t ready to let go of. At least not just yet. Not for Harvard, not for America, not for anyone, not even for the children I wished one day to be a father to. I was not like everyone else in Cambridge, I was not one of them, was not in the system, had never been. This wasn’t really my home, might never be. These weren’t my people, were never going to be. This wasn’t my life, wasn’t my birthplace, wasn’t even me, couldn’t be me. This was the summer of 1977.” – André Aciman, Harvard Square 

Taxi Driver. ‘Harvard Square,’ by André Aciman


May 3, 2013. The New York Times

Middle C by William H. Gass


“When Professor Joseph Skizzen walked into his first class at Whittlebauer College—seventeen students had signed up for Trends in Modern Music, and they were all there—his chest could scarcely hold his heart, and he heard its throb as if each beat were being made by menacing native feet for a jungle movie. Your job, he said to himself, is to make them choke on their own snores. He had been an indifferent student himself.” – The Middle C  by William H. Gass

March 28, 2013 – The New York Times

Holding the Key: ‘Middle C,’ by William H. Gass by Cynthia Ozick

More than just a baseball novel — The Art of Fielding (2011) by Chad Harbach

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“This good-enough undergraduate institution is filled with truly good people: a deeply literary president who is personally admirable, even though he has fallen in love with a student; a gruff chef in charge of dining services who is committed to cooking actually good food; a brilliant, gay, mixed-race roommate who takes his hick of a straight roommate shopping for more socially acceptable jeans; a baseball team captain who is a genuine leader of men, and so on.”


DSC01362Chad Harbach @ Internationales literaturfestival 2012      Chad Harbach @ internationales literaturfestival berlin 2012

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides – one of the most anticipated books of Fall 2011?


“Some people majored in English to prepare for law school. Others became journalists. The smartest guy in the honors program, Adam Vogel, a child of academics, was planning on getting a Ph.D. and becoming an academic himself. That left a large contingent of people majoring in English by default. Because they weren’t left-brained enough for science, because history was too try, philosophy too difficult, geology too petroleum-oriented, and math too mathematical – because they weren’t musical, artistic, financially motivated, or really all that smart, these people were pursuing university degrees doing something no different from what they’d done in first grade: reading stories. English was what people who didn’t know what to major in majored in.”
― Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot

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