By Anne Levin
Photography by Andrew Wilkinson
Nearly a decade ago, Brett Bonfield was at a career crossroads. He had written two novels, worked as a technology specialist, been a real estate analyst and a professional fundraiser. But he wasn’t feeling fulfilled. more
Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood
Psychologist and author Lisa Damour will discuss her latest book, Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood at Stuart Country Day School’s Cor Unum Center on Wednesday, March 2 at 7 p.m. This event is free to attend and open to the public.
“As experts in educating girls, the Stuart faculty and staff are thrilled to bring Dr. Damour to the Princeton community for the fourth time,” said Dr. Patty L. Fagin, head of school at Stuart. “Dr. Damour’s guidance for parents of adolescent girls integrates perfectly with Stuart’s mission to raise confident and committed young women.”
Dr. Michael Thompson, co-author of Raising Cain, praised Untangled as “the best description of the female adolescent journey that I have ever read.”
Damour serves as a faculty associate of the Schubert Center for Child Studies, consults for the Laurel School’s Center for Research on Girls, and is a clinical instructor in the Department of Psychology at Case Western Reserve University. She also maintains her own private practice and writes the “Adolescence” column for the New York Times’ Motherlode blog. more
by Stuart Mitchner
The most effective art therapy book I know is the Audubon Guide to Wild Flowers. My son must have been eight when he began looking through it, fascinated by the bright images, especially the more exotic flowers. The Audubon became his book of choice at bedtime. It wasn’t long before he wanted to make up his own guide. We found a large bound book of blank pages, gave him crayons and marking pens, and he spent many happy hours following the Audubon model. First he drew his idea of the flower, gave it a name, and then a description like the ones he knew. These were all his own inventions. Not only was it more satisfying, and more do-able, for him to make up the flowers, rather than trying to copy the real thing, his small motor disability gave him no choice. Simply trying to copy the image would have led to frustration, as happened in school where most kids could at least draw some identifiable semblance of an assigned object. In this case, neccessity truly was the mother of invention, for once he gave up the obligation to replicate the image, he was free to dive into the riot of color he’d discovered in the Audubon guide. An insensitive teacher would have made him feel at fault or inferior for not being able to keep up with his peers. Fortunately, he had one or two teachers who lived up to the Greek definition of therapy: therapeía “to be attentive” — and not judgmental. more
Award-winning fiction writer Kirstin Valdez Quade will join the Lewis Center for the Art’s Program in Creative Writing faculty at Princeton University in September 2016. She has been appointed Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and will be teaching undergraduate workshops in fiction.
Following the debut of her short story collection Night at the Fiestas, Quade was awarded the “5 Under 35” award from the National Book Foundation in 2014, a recognition of writers who “challenge, innovate, and energize the writing world.” She is also the recipient of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award and the 2013 Narrative Prize. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Narrative, Guernica, The Southern Review, The Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories, among other publications. She has received fellowships from Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, as well as a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation.
Jeffrey Eugenides, the faculty member who chaired the search committee that selected Quade, noted, “Each of the ten stories in Night at the Fiestas seeks to depict, in Elizabeth Bowen’s phrase, ‘life with the lid on it and what happens when the lid comes off.’ Calm, dignified, and well-composed, these stories exhibit a surface tranquility that lures the reader in, much like the desert landscapes that serve as their background, only to twist and strike, spewing poisons, like a rattlesnake beneath a rock.” more
Photo Credit: Sameer Khan
By Donald Gilpin
Promoting her latest work, Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family, published in September by Random House, Ms. Slaughter, the Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor Emerita of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton and now president and CEO of New America, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute, explained that her book, unlike her Atlantic Monthly article, focuses as much on men as women.
Many of the letters and other responses to her 2012 article that led to a national debate came from men, who were saying, according to Ms. Slaughter, “I am just as much a prisoner of gender roles as women were 30 years ago. I have to be the breadwinner, I don’t have a choice. If I try to take a different role, I’ll be stigmatized. My masculinity will be called into question.” more
By Stuart Mitchner
The accepted wisdom is that books from academic publishers are too learned and weighty (in the wrong way) to be displayed on a certain piece of living room furniture. Two exceptions to the seasonal rule of show over substance, as wise as they are bold and beautiful, come from university presses: Stacey Sell and Hugo Chapman’s Drawing in Silver and Gold: Leonardo to Jasper Johns ($49.95) from Princeton, and Shelley Fisher Fishkin’s Writing America: Literary Landmarks from Walden Pond to Wounded Knee ($34.95) from Rutgers.
Compared to the lavishly costumed usual suspects appearing just in time for holiday buyers, the tomes featured here can be seen as tributes to the taste and intelligence of both the giver and the receiver. Rather than associating yourself with the glamour buzz of some trendy subject, you can make known, in plain sight, your acquaintance with Leonardo and Jasper Johns, Walden Pond and Wounded Knee. Look inside Drawing in Silver and Gold and you find images of almost unreal beauty from the Middle Ages to the present created by master draftsmen using a rarely appreciated medium central to the history of drawing. Look inside Writing America and you find a scholar who, according to Erica Jong, “writes like an angel” about the “diversity and humor of the American spirit,” including not only familiar figures like Whitman and Twain, but Jewish, Mexican and Asian American writers, and luminaries of the Harlem Renaissance. more
Part of Princeton Magazine’s Social Media Mixer Series: Great Authors to Follow on Twitter
By Taylor Smith
Emily St. John Mandel is the author of four novels, most recently Station Eleven, which was a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award, and won the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award. A previous novel, The Singer’s Gun, was the 2014 winner of the Prix Mystere de la Critique in France. Station Eleven has most recently been licensed as a feature film. Mandel shares her thoughts on her best-selling novel and the seed of her inspiration.
Mandel was watching an episode of Star Trek: Voyager when she was struck by the line, “Survival is insufficient,” an elegant expression of something that she believed to be true. Her award-winning novel Station Eleven is based on the premise that “no matter what the circumstances, we always long for something beyond the basics of mere survival.”
Unlike most dystopian fiction, Station Eleven begins more than a decade after an illness has ravaged society. The worst of the pandemic has passed and so with it has gone electricity, the Internet, modern medicine, and the majority of artistic expression. In spite of all this, a group of musicians form a travelling theatrical troupe, performing Shakespeare at small towns that have formed around abandoned gas stations. more
By Stuart Mitchner
My appreciation for home building and home design began in childhood with the Classic Comic of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and peaked when I watched a master carpenter rebuild the interior of the Princeton house we’ve lived in for almost 30 years. I read the Crusoe comic many times over when I was 6 or 7. My favorite image was of the cozy cave-like domicile Crusoe constructed for himself: a desk, a bed, a set of shelves lined with various vases and containers in lieu of books, a hammock, sabres and rifles hanging from the wall. Crusoe, a Do-It-Yourself man almost 200 years before the rise of the acronym DIY, is shown carving stakes for the fence, borrowing a sail from the wreckage of his ship to make a canvas tent overhead, chopping down trees and splitting the trunks to make planks. The big Vermonter who helped make our house a home didn’t need to chop down trees or split trunks, but what he accomplished was no less remarkable. more
Charlotte Moss’s lavish new book enlivens your green thumb with stunning photographs of gardens from around the globe.
By Sarah Emily Gilbert
With a reverence for the traditional and a passion for the unexpected, Charlotte Moss brings her unique aesthetic to nature in her new book, Garden Inspirations. A miscellany of sumptuous photographs, interesting stories, and useful advice, her book is rooted in the garden.
For over 27 years, Moss has been perfecting her East Hampton garden using influences from her international travels. From France and Italy to England and Spain, Moss sought to document and replicate some of the world’s most divine natural sanctuaries. As a result, the venerable designer’s artistic eye has been shaded by her wealth of botanical knowledge that she shares in the pages of her book. more
By Stuart Mitchner
First things first, whatever the opposite of “foodie” is, I’m it. While my wife may also make faces at that precious little word, she fits the dictionary definition and then some of “a person who enjoys and cares about food.” Say the name “Yotam Ottolenghi” and her face lights up. Say it to me and I go “Duh?” My wife came of age in Los Angeles eating Mexican food along with other ethnic fare. I grew up in Indiana eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. If it were possible to estimate my consumption of PB&J, I might rate a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Until I met my wife, an artichoke was as alien to me as an ottolenghi.
I spent a year in India without eating curry. Not until after the marriage vows did I take the spicy plunge, and now it’s the one thing I can cook without the help of a cookbook. Yet here I am, contemplating Yotam’s latest, Plenty More (Ten Speed Press $35). The subtitle says it’s about Vibrant Vegetable Cooking. If you look through the big full-color world of images between the covers, some 339 pages, the vegetables are nothing if not vibrant. They do everything but dance on the page. You can get drunk just looking at them. In fact, just looking at the one-word chapter titles on the contents page becomes an activity in itself. You get Tossed, Steamed, Blanched, Simmered, Braised, Grilled, Roasted, Fried, Mashed, Cracked, Baked, and Sweetened. Which, now that I think of it, is one way of describing what happened to me in India and on the way there and back. more
Area resident Hester Young will be launching The Gates of Evangeline (G.P. Putnam’s $29.95), her debut novel, Wednesday, September 2, at 7 p.m., at the Princeton Public Library. The first in a planned trilogy, the book is about a grieving mother whose dark visions bring to light secrets that affect those around her.
In a starred review Publishers Weekly called The Gates of Evangeline “haunting, heartbreaking, yet ultimately hopeful….Young handles the spectral elements with restraint as her tremendously sympathetic heroine seeks to build a new life after death.” According to Kirkus Reviews, “the hothouse atmosphere of Evangeline and the tortuous and tangled motives of its denizens make for an enjoyable puzzle box of a mystery. An eerie but inviting debut.”
Jedediah Berry, author of the Hammett-prize winning The Manual of Detection, writes, “In Hester Young’s haunted Louisiana, the ghostly labyrinth of the past opens its great doors to deliver up a lush gothic thriller. The Gates of Evangeline is a darkly marvelous debut, a classic whodunnit stitched with otherworldly chills.” more
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet to head 75-year-old, unique undergraduate program
Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts named Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith as the new director of the University’s Program in Creative Writing. Smith, a Professor of Creative Writing on the Princeton faculty since 2005, succeeds National Book Award finalist and poet Susan Wheeler, who has led the program since 2011. more
See how architectural photographer, Richard Schulman is capturing the faces behind the world’s most beautiful buildings
By Sarah Emily Gilbert
Images by Richard Schulman
Unlike paintings and other forms of art that are produced directly from hand to canvas, architectural designs require an intermediate step: construction. And while we may be left awestruck by the sleek enormity of a skyscraper or the matchless ambiance of a building, we often forget the brilliant architect behind its conception. more
By Stuart Mitchner
In his introduction to the 1946 Scribner’s edition of Henry James’s The American Scene, W.H. Auden observes that while travel is the “easiest subject for the journalist” who requires only “a flair for being on the spot where interesting events happen,” it is the most diffi cult for the artist, “who is deprived of the freedom to invent, free only to select and never to modify or add, which calls for imagination of a very high order.”
Except that, as Auden goes on to show, James found ways to invent, modify, or add, exploiting his “descriptive conceits” with rhapsodies on “the golden apples of the Jersey shore” and the pleasure of “being ever so wisely driven, driven further and further, into the large lucidity of—well, of what else shall I call it but a New Jersey condition?”
By Anne Levin
Ruth Reichl is sometimes asked the question: If you had a superpower, what would it be? For the author, food writer and editor — formerly the restaurant critic at The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times and the editor-in-chief of the late and lamented Gourmet magazine, the answer is a no-brainer: To have a heightened palate.
“I wish I had it, but I so do not,” she said during a telephone interview last week. “Especially in my business, it would be a great asset.” Ms. Reichl will speak this Friday at a sold-out Book Lover’s Luncheon hosted by the Princeton Public Library and the Friends of the Library, at Springdale Golf Club. “The closest I’ve ever seen is Paula Wolfert, whom I traveled with once,” she continued. “She really does have an uncanny ability to pull flavors apart.” more
By Stuart Mitchner
We’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden…
That line from Joni Mitchell’s song “Woodstock” has been singing in my mind ever since I began thinking about books on gardens for the spring issue. The sound that haunts me, however, isn’t from the composer’s version, but the one sung by Ian Matthews and backed by Gordon Huntley’s eloquent pedal steel guitar on the album Later That Same Year by Matthews’ Southern Comfort. Huntley weaves a spell of such beauty, no place but an earthly paradise could live up to it.
Of real world here-and-now gardens in my experience, I think of Hidcote near Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire, which I visited with my wife and 10-year-old son at the time of his all-consuming fascination with plants and flowers, particularly exotic deadly ones (a year later it was electric guitars and exotic, deadly music). As it happens, Hidcote was the creation of an American expatriate named Lawrence Johnston, who settled in England in 1900 and began laying out the garden ten years later. During the same UK summer, we visited Vita Sackville-West’s Sissinghurst Castle Garden, which shared the Arts and Crafts style of Hidcote, with its sequence of outdoor “rooms.” I was always the semi-reluctant hanger-on, for these visits took place when my wife was reading her way through the letters and journals of Sackville-West’s soulmate Virginia Woolf and my son was doing the same with field guides and botanical esoterica. more