Who’s That Author? Linda Holmes

Image: Amazon.com

Linda Holmes is a writer, culture critic and interviewer. Her debut novel is the New York Times Bestseller Evvie Drake Starts Over, published in 2019 (read my review here). She is also the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour, a roundtable podcast on NPR.

Holmes is originally from Wilmington, Delaware. She graduated from Oberlin College and earned a law degree at Lewis and Clark Law School in 1997. She practiced law in Minnesota for ten years and, during that time, wrote about television and film for several websites, including Vulture.com and MSNBC. In 2007, Holmes gave up law and moved to New York to devote her time to writing. She was hired by NPR in 2008.

Holmes talks more about her career on her website, thisislindaholmes.com:

My side hustle is moderating live events where I interview people in front of audiences. I’ve talked to TV and movie folks like Shonda Rhimes, Ron Howard, Connie Britton, Lauren Graham, Trevor Noah, B.J. Novak (also a writer, of course), and Joe and Anthony Russo. I’ve also talked at the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Sixth & I synagogue to authors like Jane Smiley, Maria Semple, Elizabeth Strout, the hosts of Welcome To Night Vale and, in a moment that my 12-year-old self still doesn’t quite believe, Judy Blume.”

I also found a great quote about her experience as a first-time novelist from this Penguin Random House Interview:

As a debut author, is there anything you wish you had known before you started writing this book? Do you have any advice to share with other first-time authors?

I didn’t know how much I would have to just keep going at times when it seemed like I had no idea what I was doing. I think there’s always part of you that wonders whether you can really do it, because a novel is a big undertaking. I think it’s very natural to stall out a couple of times, just feeling unsure that you have a middle of the book. I think a lot of people have a beginning and an end, and figuring out what the middle is catches them off-guard. That’s a time to just keep going, because you may change a lot of it later anyway. Try to understand the characters. Try to make sure you know what the emotional arc is, and you’ll find the rest.

That’s encouraging advice!

You can learn more about Holmes at thisislindaholmes.com and npr.org.

Have you read Evvie Drake Starts Over or listened to Pop Culture Happy Hour?

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An Update

Fred H. Rohn


I am posting this on behalf of my father, Fred Rohn, who passed away on June 2. He was very excited about the May release of his most recent book, Encounters: Relationships in Conflict, a collection of short fiction. Prior to that, I worked with him to publish his memoir, A Fortunate Life, a chronology of personal reflections in the context of growing up during the Depression and World War II.

Music was a very important part of my father’s life. He loved the big band sound and especially enjoyed how many instruments came together to make music.

Below are some excerpts from his chapter on music in A Fortunate Life

I grew up in an era of fifteen member ‘swing’ bands, in the years between World War I and World War II.”

Gas rationing during World War II forced the closing of the supper club venues and the bands played in smaller, downtown locations, close to bus and trolley mass transit. It was both illegal and unpatriotic to drive a car just to hear a band, even if you had some gasoline coupons unused. So, my friends and I, often in my high school years, would take a bus on Saturday mornings to Newark where the Adams Theater on Branford Place housed a succession of big bands in concert.

I’m still comforted by this music, at times in awe of its ability to get the best out of both the instruments themselves and the musicians playing together as a team. It is my kind of music, an integral part of growing up during the mid-twentieth century.

…and for those who want the full experience of the music he enjoyed so much, take a look at this playlist, a collection of songs and artists that formed the backdrop of his life.

On the Sunny Side of the Street, Keely Smith
In the Mood, Glenn Miller and His Orchestra
I’m Getting Sentimental Over You, Tommy Dorsey
Misty, Erroll Garner
(I Left My Heart) In San Francisco, Tony Bennett
Embraceable You / I Got It Bad, Louis Prima & Keely Smith
At the Woodchoppers Ball, Woody Herman
Stompin’ at the Savoy, Erroll Garner
Mack the Knife, Bobby Darin
Ciribiribin, Harry James
Hey, Boy! Hey, Girl!, Louis Prima
I’m In the Mood for Love, Erroll Garner
Moonlight Serenade, Glenn Miller and His Orchestra
Beyond the Sea, Bobby Darin
When You’re Smiling / The Sheik of Araby, Louis Prima
Swingin’ On the Moon, Mel Tormé
Don’t Get Around Much Anymore, Mel Tormé
Just a Gigolo / I Ain’t Got Nobody, Louis Prima

Click here for more information about A Fortunate Life.

Encounters was published on May 4. You can learn more about his short stories here.

I will continue to keep his blog and website active. Visit fredrohn.com for updates about his books.

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A little about Anna Quindlen

Image: Goodreads

I’m looking for a new book to read to fit into my summer reading challenge and I think an Anna Quindlen book would be just right for several of the categories:

  • Read an award-winning book…
  • Read a memoir, biography or autobiography…
  • Read a book suggested by a friend…

See what I mean?

Anna Quindlen is an award-winning novelist and journalist. Here’s her bio from annaquindlen.net:

ANNA QUINDLEN is a novelist and journalist whose work has appeared on fiction, nonfiction, and self-help bestseller lists. She is the author of eight novels: Object Lessons, One True Thing, Black and Blue, Blessings, Rise and Shine, Every Last One, Still Life with Bread Crumbs, and Miller’s Valley. Her memoir Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, published in 2012, was a number one New York Times bestseller. Her book A Short Guide to a Happy Life has sold more than a million copies. While a columnist at The New York Times she won the Pulitzer Prize and published two collections, Living Out Loud and Thinking Out Loud. Her Newsweek columns were collected in Loud and Clear.

I’ve read three of her books – check them out:


Black and Blue – a hard look at the complicated dynamics in abusive relationships

Good Dog Stay 3

Good Dog. Stay. – sentimental reflections about the relationships between dogs and their human families

Stll Life with Bread Crumbs

Still Life with Bread Crumbs – can a sixty-year old photographer with a waning career find love?

Visit these links for more info:

Quindlen’s website: annaquindlen.net
Facebook page: @annaquinlen
Wikipedia – Anna Quindlen

What is your favorite Anna Quindlen book?

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Who’s That Author? Jamie Ford

Who's that author final

Jamie Ford pic
Jamie Ford – from huffingtonpost.com

Jamie Ford (1968 – ) is an American author of two best-selling books, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (2009) and Songs of Willow Frost (2013). Ford was born in California and grew up in Oregon and Washington. His great grandfather was Min Chung, a Nevada mining pioneer who emigrated from China in 1865 to San Francisco. When his grandfather arrived in America, he changed his name to Ford and, as Jamie Ford writes, confused “countless generations.”

Interestingly, according to a biography on about.com, Ford’s grandfather, George William Ford,

changed his name back to George Chung in order to gain more success as an ethnic actor in Hollywood. In Ford’s second novel, he explores Asians in Hollywood in the early twentieth century, around the time his grandfather was pursuing acting.

Ford graduated from the Art Institute of Seattle and, before becoming an author, held jobs in the art field and in advertising. In addition to his two books, Ford writes short fiction and is an active blogger.

For more information about Jamie Ford, check out this Wikipedia article on Jamie Ford.

Be sure to visit Jamie Ford’s website at jamieford.com.

Click here to read an interesting biography of Jamie Ford in the About Entertainment section of About.com.

You may also want to read one of Ford’s recent blog posts about the auctioning off of photos from the Seattle’s Panama Hotel.

Click here to read my review of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet picClick here to learn more about the Panama Hotel.

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Who’s That Author? Kurt Vonnegut

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Kurt Vonnegut notablebiographies.com
Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut (1922 – 2007) was an American author and humorist, well known for his use of black humor and satire. Over a period of more than 50 years, he published fourteen novels, three short-story collections, five plays and five works of non-fiction. Slaughterhouse-Five was his sixth book, published in 1969, during the Vietnam War. It became his most famous book.

Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was the youngest of three children and his grandparents on both sides were German immigrants. Because of the anti-German sentiment in America during World War I, however, the Vonneguts gave up their German heritage. Vonnegut’s father was an architect and his mother came from one of the wealthiest families in Indianapolis, owners of a brewery.

Vonnegut attended Cornell University in 1940 and was editor of the school newspaper. Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Vonnegut  dropped out of Cornell and joined the Army as a private. In 1944, Vonnegut was captured by the Germans and was sent to Dresden, where he lived in a slaughterhouse and worked in a factory. When the Allied forces bombed Dresden in 1945, Vonnegut survived by hiding in an underground meat locker. Vonnegut’s experience at Dresden affected him deeply and Slaughterhouse-Five is a reflection of this experience.

In 1967 he won a Guggenheim Fellowship for research in Germany and traveled to Eastern Europe, including Dresden. He integrated his writings about World War II into the book that became Slaughterhouse-Five.

Slaughterhouse-Five sent Vonnegut’s career to new heights. He soon became a regular commencement speaker, lectured at Harvard, taught at City University of New York and received many honorary degrees. And he continued to write.

In his later years, Vonnegut was an outspoken supporter of several causes: preserving Constitutional freedoms, nuclear arms control and protection of the environment. He wrote throughout his life and died in 2007, at age 84.

Thanks to the following sources:

The Paris Review – The Art of Fiction No. 64 – a compilation of four interviews.
Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library

Visit The Strongest Librarian for A Complete List of Kurt Vonnegut Books.

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Who’s That Author? Joyce Carol Oates

Who's that author final

Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce Carol Oates enc1102student.wordpress.com

Joyce Carol Oates (1938 – ) is an American author of more than 70 books, including novels, short story collections, poetry volumes, plays, essays, and criticism, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde. Oates has also written suspense novels under the pseudonyms Rosamond Smith and Lauren Kelly. Among her many honors are the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction and the National Book Award. Oates is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.

Oates grew up on a farm in upstate New York. She loved reading and writing during her childhood and received her first typewriter as a teenager. After graduating from high school, she was awarded a scholarship to Syracuse University where she graduated valedictorian in 1960. In 1961, she completed her Master’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin and married Raymond Smith, an English student at the University. Before becoming a professor at Princeton, Oates taught at the University of Detroit and University of Windsor, in Canada. She and her husband were also co-editors of The Ontario Review, a literary publication.

In 2008, Oates suffered through a nearly debilitating depression when Smith died unexpectedly. Her memoir, A Widow’s Story details this dark period of her life. In 2009, Oates married Charles Gross, a professor of neuroscience at Princeton.

Oates continues to write and published two novels in 2013, Daddy Love and The Accursed.

For more information about Joyce Carol Oates, including a full list of her writing, visit the following links:

The Academy of Achievement

And be sure to check out my reviews of the following work by Oates:

A Widow’s Story
Little Bird of Heaven
“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”

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Who’s That Author? Nancy Dingman Watson

Who's that author final

Nancy Dingman Watson
Nancy Dingman Watson

Nancy Dingman Watson (1933-2001) was an American author of more than 25 children’s books, novels and poetry books, including Blueberries Lavender, When Is Tomorrow and Tommy’s Mommy’s Fish, which was illustrated by her son and re-released in 1996.

Ms. Watson was born in Paterson, New Jersey and grew up in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey. She attended Wheaton College and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Smith College. She married Aldren Watson in 1941 and made a home in Putney, Vermont where she spent thirty years raising eight children. In the sixties, Ms. Watson wrote for the column “One Woman’s View.” She was a two-time finalist in the Allen Ginsburg poetry competition, and wrote an award-winning musical, Princess! Later in her life, she sailed across the Atlantic with her second husband, Dutch sailor Fokke Van Bekkum, in their 32-foot sailboat.

I was sorry to discover that Ms. Watson had died in a car accident in Truro, Massachusetts, the setting of this story. This was most certainly a special place for her.

Click here to read my review of Tommy’s Mommy’s Fish.

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Who’s That Author? P.G. Wodehouse

P.G. Wodehouse

Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (1881-1975) was an English writer of comic fiction. He wrote over 90 books, 20 film scripts, 40 plays and 200 short stories and is one of the most widely read humorists of the 20th Century. His well-known characters, including the wise and ingenious Jeeves, manservant to Bertie Wooster, appear regularly in most of his work. Most of his stories are set in England, but Wodehouse spent a great deal of his life in America, particularly New York and Hollywood. He wrote constantly and once remarked how working a real job got in the way of his writing.

Wodehouse moved to France in 1934 for tax reasons and in 1940, at age 59, he was taken prisoner by the Germans and held for nearly a year. After he was given a typewriter in prison to pass the time, he wrote the book, Money in the Bank.

Wodehouse became involved in a wartime controversy upon his release, when he made six comedy broadcasts entitled, How to be an Internee Without Previous Training, which were anecdotes about life as a prisoner. His broadcasts were to the United States from German radio. The U.S. had not yet entered World War II and his broadcasts were not political, but Britain was furious he had broadcast over enemy radio, calling him a traitor and a Nazi collaborator, and Wodehouse was investigated and maligned.

Surprisingly, Wodehouse was shy, quiet and unworldly. Many of his supporters felt he was tricked into broadcasting the stories by the German propaganda minister. He was never prosecuted by Britain, and it was later concluded that what he did was foolish, but not politically motivated. In addition, he was later arrested by French authorities, but no charges were ever filed. Through all this, Wodehouse continued to write, but he never returned to Britain. He spent the rest of his life, from 1947, living in the U.S., where he received a dual citizenship and settled in the Southampton, Long Island resort town of Remensburg.   In 1975, Britain finally officially forgave Wodehouse and awarded him the honor of knighthood. He died the next month, at age 93.

I read many interesting facts about P.G. Wodehouse on these helpful sites:

Britannica.com biography on Wodehouse
P.G. Wodehouse – The Official Website

Robert McCrum wrote the Introduction to Just Enough Jeeves (Click here to read my preview of this book). He also wrote the biography, Wodehouse: A Life, which is available on Amazon.

Want more Wodehouse?  Check out my other reviews!

Joy in the Morning
Very Good, Jeeves

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Who’s That Author? Richard Bausch

Who's that author final

Richard Bausch - from richardbausch.com
Richard Bausch – from richardbausch.com

Richard Bausch is an American novelist and author of short fiction. I really enjoyed reading the short story, “The Man Who Knew Belle Starr,” published in 1987.  Since then, Bausch has written eleven novels and eight books of short fiction. He attended college at George Mason University and received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. His most recent novel, Peace, was published in 2008 and Before, During, After will be available July 21, 2015. Bausch has won numerous awards and distinctions for his work, including two National Magazine Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, The 2004 PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story, and the 2013 REA award for Short Fiction. He is currently a professor at Chapman University in Orange, California.

Before During After cover

Here is a brief description of Bausch’s new book, Before, During, After from Amazon:

Although they are separated in age by almost two decades, when Natasha, a young artist, meets Michael Faulk, a priest struggling with his faith, the stars seem to align. But shortly before their wedding day, as the terrorist attacks of 9/11 shake the country, cracks in their relationship begin to emerge. Cut off from one another for several terrifying hours, Natasha suffers an unimaginable private trauma, and her inability to speak of it inexorably divides their relationship into “before” and “after.” Gorgeously rendered and emotionally powerful, in Before, During, After one of our most distinguished storytellers charts the path of a relationship threatened by secrets.

Be sure to visit Richard Bausch’s website for information about all of his work as well as Bausch’s Amazon author page.

Thanks also to Wikipedia for information about Richard Bausch.

Click here for a review of the short story, “The Man Who Knew Belle Starr.”

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Who’s That Author? Margaret Wise Brown

Who's that author final

Margaret Wise Brown
Margaret Wise Brown lookingglassreview.com

Margaret Wise Brown (1910 – 1942) was an American author of children’s books. She led a short, but very successful career writing over a hundred children’s books, most notably, Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny. Brown was born in Brooklyn, New York and attended school in both Switzerland and the United States. She earned a degree in English at Hollins College, in Roanoke, Virginia and began her writing career while working at the Bank Street Experimental School in New York. Her first book, When the Wind Blew, was published in 1937.

Brown died unexpectedly, of an embolism, after surgery for appendicitis. Brown was an interesting character, who had a quirky personality and several tumultuous romantic relationships. You can learn more about these details from the following links.

Harper Collins biography
Britannica biography
Slate.com article

Home for a BunnyBe sure to visit my review of Home for a Bunny, a family favorite!

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