Law and Conversation

April 29, 2009

Canadian novelist Anne Michaels on writing

Filed under: Books and writing — Helen Gunnarsson @ 9:58 am
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The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) has some fine podcasts. My current favorites are “Writers and Company,” with host Eleanor Wachtel, and “Sunday Morning,” with host Michael Enright. Both Wachtel and Enright are terrific interviewers, displaying inquiring minds and unfeigned interest in what their subjects have to say.

Enright interviewed novelist Anne Michaels, winner of the Orange Prize, one of the most prestigious prizes for fiction, in 2007 for her novel “Fugitive Pieces,” on April 5, 2009. I haven’t read anything she’s written and, in fact, hadn’t heard of her before listening to this podcast, but I enjoyed the interview. Here’s a Michaels quote from the podcast that gave me food for thought: “One reason why I write is because I want to live better—be a better human being. I want to challenge myself with certain questions. I think that a [novel]… provides a safe place to talk about things that are not safe.”

April 26, 2009

Guidance for tweeting on Twitter

Filed under: Uncategorized — Helen Gunnarsson @ 8:39 pm
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I just finished an article on social networking for lawyers for the Illinois Bar Journal.  In the course of researching it, I met Carol Ross, a wisdom entrepreneur and fellow Northwestern alum, on LinkedIn and interviewed her for the article.  Carol’s encouragement was the push I’d needed to start this blog.

Carol writes not one, not two, but THREE blogs:  A Bigger Voice; Ordinary Life, Extraordinary Living; and Boundary Crosser.  She helped me “get” Twitter, and her views on the Biggest Mistakes of New Twitter Users, at , are well worth reading by anyone who’s wondering what Twitter is all about.  A commenter, Ellen Naylor, noted that she posted a complementary article entitled “Trick or Tweet:  13 Ways to Alienate Twitter Followers”  at ; Naylor’s post also contains excellent advice.

Speaking of memoirs….

Filed under: Books and writing — Helen Gunnarsson @ 7:48 pm

Christopher Buckley’s forthcoming memoir about his parents is excerpted in The New York Times Magazine at  The excerpt is a great read.

A cappella singing

Filed under: Music — Helen Gunnarsson @ 3:51 pm
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Coming across this article in the Wall Street Journal reminded me how much I love a cappella singing, including medieval, barbershop, folk, spirituals, and other styles. Talisman A Cappella, a group from Stanford University, is probably my absolute favorite at the moment; check it out at . Readers, what are your favorites?

“The Mistress’s Daughter,” by A.M. Homes

Filed under: Books and writing — Helen Gunnarsson @ 2:26 pm
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I’ve been wanting to read this memoir since it came out and finally got to it yesterday after straining my back scotched my other plans for the day.

A.M. Homes, whose first name is Amy, is a writer, now living in New York, but originally from the D.C. area. She’s been published by Granta, Harper’s, and the New Yorker, among others, and writes regularly for Vanity Fair, according to the book jacket.

I haven’t read any of her fiction and remember being extremely put off by reviews of her novel “The End Of Alice” when it came out because of its graphic violence; it may be terrific, but, because of its subject matter, I’m not inclined to read it. I enjoyed her memoir very much, though.

In this book, Homes relates the story of finding her birth parents. She wasn’t looking for them, and evidently had great adoptive parents; her birth mother found her. As she depicts them, both of her birth parents turned out to be really problematic, selfish people. Her birth mother was very emotionally needy and wanted Homes to take care of her. Her birth father, who was married with children already when he began his affair with her birth mother, who at the time was a teenager, insisted on a DNA test, told her the results showed that she was his daughter, but then refused to give her a copy. He also treated Homes like a mistress, not a daughter, insisting on meeting her at crummy restaurants and hotels and suggesting that she call him on his car phone so his wife wouldn’t know. Homes, who names him in her book, had enough self-respect to become fed up with his behavior.

Discovering her birth parents led her to genealogical research on both her birth family and her adoptive family. On p. 152 Homes comments “In this room [in the New York City Municipal Archives, where she and others are researching their ancestors] everyone is looking for something that will help them either confirm or deny part of what they believe about themselves.” Her memoir is worth reading for her thoughtful description and analysis of her birth parents’ behavior and her own reactions.

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