Category: Books

New England History for Truth-Seeking Tourists

A statue of the sachem Iyanough, for whom Hyannis, Mass. is named. Iyanough helped arrange the return of 16-year-old John Billington, who got lost in 1621 and was taken custody by indigenous people. Iyanough died in 1621 while still in his 20s. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Of Pilgrims, Progress, Power I begin reading Nathaniel Philbrick’s Mayflower with the hope that the ending is going to be a slightly different one. I resist picking up this work for a long time because I know it isn’t going…

Mont Saint Michel for Changing Times

Tides of Mont St.-Michel book cover

Roger Vercel’s 1938 novel about the mount still entices What I like about Mont Saint Michel is that the closer you climb to the top of the mount, the farther you are from the touristy crappiness that can accompany any…

Overthinking the Algonquin

Looking for literary ghosts at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Dorothy Parker Is Long Gone I sit down at the Round Table restaurant in the Algonquin Hotel in New York City with no one but long-dead writer and wit Dorothy Parker spinning through my head. Who wouldn’t admire what might…

If You’re Going to Italy, Bring Delia Ephron

Trevi Fountain, Rome

Even if Siracusa Is Not Your Destination, Ephron’s Book Will Delight You I’ve been sucking up just about everything the Ephron sisters put out since I discovered Nora Ephron’s Crazy Salad Plus Nine many, many years ago. It’s no surprise,…

Meeting Hemingway at Harry’s Bar

Can the literary romance of Harry's Bar possibly live up to its reality? Photo credit: L. Tripoli

A Little Literary Tourism in Venice Scooting past a vaporetto stop in Venice on my way back to my hotel, which was at some point in history a palazzo, I stumble across a landmark of more recent, and literary, fame:…

An Armchair Adventurer Goes to Concord, Mass.

Read up on the places you want to visit. Photo credit: L. Tripoli

Via Sarah Payne Stuart’s Perfectly Miserable   If much of the joy of traveling is the anticipation simply about going somewhere, so, too, is reading up on the place to which you are about to go, not just to figure…

Free Radical: The Lesson of Louise Bryant

Moscow Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

A Russian Revolution Chronicler’s Extraordinary Life I am late to the life of Louise Bryant. I become interested in her long after watching Reds, and reading her husband’s book, Ten Days That Shook the World, and going to Russia, where…

Remembering the Romanovs in Russia

Maria and Anastasia Romanov's remains are now in a church at Peter and Paul Fortress in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

A Reading of Helen Rappaport’s Romanov Sisters The story of some sisters burdened with a bit of a wackadoodle mother and an autocratic father appeals to many of us, even if we do know the ending, as in the case…

Contemplating Austria

Contemplating Austria

Understanding the Viennese Paradox Anticipating a visit to Vienna, I am trying to understand the place, its past, its present. Mention Vienna and pastries come to mind along with classical music. Austria as a nation is a bit more confusing,…