Let the Great World Spin HCNew York Times writer Joel Lovell has written a thoughtful piece on Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin (Random House), which won the National Book Award, and a new novel, TransAtlantic (Random House, June 2013).  Titled “Colum McCann’s Radical Empathy,” the profile is set in the recent aftermath of the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy as McCann travels to the afflicted school to speak to the high school students upon a teacher’s request.   It delves into the value of Let the Great World Spin (which was added to the Newtown high school curriculum) as a transcendent history that can ease the pains of tragedy, “a book that,” Newtown teacher Lee Keylock says, “might help their students begin to make sense of their terrible shock and grief.”  From there, the article moves into McCann’s own life, crossing briefly into McCann’s childhood in Ireland, to his desire as a writer to work in “the blurred spaces between fiction and nonfiction.”  Granting insight into McCann’s humor, gravity, and ambition, the piece permits a glimpse into the life of the man who writes, while “‘in the cupboard,'” about the magnitude of the world.

Click here to read the full New York Times article.

Click here for more information about Colum McCann.

Click here for information about the author’s speaking engagements.

American Widow by Alissa Torres

How did I cope when my world turned upside down?  I used to find solutions to all my problems at the bookstore.  Ever since I started reading, books always saved me. They took me out of my circumstances, gave me answers with advice or by example for whatever ailed me.  But after my husband Eddie died at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, nothing was the same.

Waddling down the self-help aisle, newly widowed and 7-1/2 months pregnant, I was unable to find anything to ease my pain and offer me guidance.  Specifically, I wanted to know what was this grief that now filled me?  And what was this life I was now leading, so debilitated by this grief?

But even if I had found what I needed during that awful fall of 2001, I wouldn’t have been able to read it.  In those days, I couldn’t focus: my mind was too scattered and busy trying to comprehend my tragic personal circumstances within such an enormous public trauma.  It took me a month before I could read more than a couple sentences, and many more before I could get through an entire book. (more…)

Half a Life by Darin Strauss

In his powerful, unforgettable memoir, Half a Life, acclaimed novelist Darin Strauss recounts a tragedy and its aftermath. In the last month of his high school career, just after turning eighteen, Strauss is behind the wheel of his father’s Oldsmobile, driving with friends, having “thoughts of mini-golf, another thought of maybe just going to the beach.” Then out of the blue: a collision that results in the death of a bicycling classmate and that shadows the rest of his life. In haunting, penetrating prose, Darin Strauss explores loss and guilt, maturity and accountability, hope and acceptance. The result is a staggering, uplifting tour de force.

Please email us if you would like an advance reader’s edition, and include your full school mailing address.

The Kids Are All Right by the Welch siblings

by Diana Welch and Liz Welch, co-authors with Amanda Welch and Dan Welch of The Kids Are All Right: A Memoir

Like many siblings, we disagree about a lot of things. We can’t remember who came up with the title The Kids Are All Right, but we do know that each of us had a completely different take on its meaning. Liz took it literally: All four of us turned out remarkably well, despite losing our parents when we were so young. Our father died in a car accident in 1982, and our mother succumbed to cancer in 1985. When we became orphans, our eldest sister Amanda was nineteen; Liz was sixteen; our brother Dan was fourteen; and Diana had just turned eight. Since no local family would take all of us in, we were separated, each sent to live in a different place. Our book, The Kids Are All Right, tells (in four different voices) how being separated was the most painful part of dealing with the loss of our parents. It also tells the story of how, after five years living apart, we found one another and became a family again. (more…)

American Widow by Alissa Torres; Illustrated by Sungyoon Choi

by Alissa Torres, author of American Widow

American Widow is the book I wrote because I couldn’t talk about my husband, Eddie Torres, dying at the World Trade Center.  I was mute as the whole world talked about the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

In the earliest post-9/11 days, I filled spiral bound notebooks with repetitive outpourings and memories.  By January 2002, I wrote my first personal essay, one of many published on salon.com.  I crafted them late into the night while my infant son slept, documenting my surreal existence so close to the center of something so big and so sad.  By the summer of 2002, I started writing the script for American Widow, my graphic novel memoir.  It had to be a graphic novel because my story was one of pictures, the collision of two sets — those of the towers burning and those of my husband smiling. (more…)