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The Word on the Street

Word on the Street: News on New England books and authors

Glass to preview new novel

Julia Glass will offer a sneak preview of her new novel on Thursday, as part of the Winter Reading Series at Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill.

The effervescent Marblehead resident is the painter-turned-writer whose first book, “Three Junes,” won the National Book Award in 2002.

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She’ll be reading from her fifth novel, “And the Dark Sacred Night,” scheduled to be published by Pantheon early in 2014.

“The book is about a middle-aged man searching for the identity of a father he never knew — so, once again, it’s a story wrapped around family secrets,” Glass wrote in a recent e-mail. “Though the hero is a new character for me, he emerged from a tiny subplot of ‘Three Junes,’ so readers will re-encounter familiar faces from that book as well as ‘The Whole World Over.’

Also reading that night will be David Yoo, author of two young-adult novels and the essay collection “The Choke Artist: Confessions of a Chronic Underachiever,” and Amy Hoffman, author of “Hospital Time,” about caring for a friend who died of AIDS; “An Army of Ex-Lovers,” about working at Gay Community News in Boston; and a third memoir, “Lies About My Family” (University of Massachusetts), to be published in May. On Thursday she’ll read from a novel in progress set in Provincetown.

The reading will begin at 7:30 p.m., with a cash-bar reception to follow.

Another window into Styron

The late William Styron, who lived on Martha’s Vineyard and in Roxbury, Conn., had a wide circle of friends, among them Norman Mailer, James Baldwin, and President Kennedy. In letters to pals and family members, Styron gossiped and wrote about what was going on in his life and with his novels, “The Confessions of Nat Turner” and “Sophie’s Choice,” and his memoir of depression, “Darkness Visible.” Of the latter, he wrote, “Curious to think that a slender little volume about lunacy may provide a meal ticket for my superannuated years.”

In a letter to his father, William Styron (left) characterized President Kennedy’s literary tastes as ‘rather square and conventional,’ and called Kennedy’s mind ‘an enormously sharp one,’ though not profound.

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The recently published “Selected Letters of William Styron” (Random House) was edited by his wife, Rose Styron. She and their daughter Alexandra will discuss the collection with Scott Simon of NPR on Jan. 28 at the JFK Presidential Library and Museum in Dorchester.

In one letter, Styron recalled for his father an encounter he had with President Kennedy and Jackie on the Vineyard in the summer of 1962. In that letter,
Styron characterized Kennedy’s literary tastes as “rather square and conventional,” and called Kennedy’s mind “an enormously sharp one,” though not profound.

The JFK Library’s series of forums continues on Jan. 31 with a conversation between two highly successful novelists and screenwriters, Tom Perrotta and John Irving.

Both forums begin at 6 p.m. Register at www.jfklibrary.org.

Coming out

 “Making Habits: Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick” by Jeremy Dean (Da Capo)

 “The Universe Within: Discovering the Common History of Rocks, Planets, and People” by Neil Shubin (Pantheon)

 “The Husband List” by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly (St. Martin’s)

Pick of the week

Tova Beiser of Brown University Bookstore in Providence recommends “Truth in Advertising” by John Kenney (Touchstone): “This funny first novel is an accomplished mix of snark and pathos. Finbar Dolan is nearly 40 and has little to show for it. He is ambivalent about his Madison Avenue advertising job, has a failed engagement behind him, and is emotionally distant from his fragmented and dysfunctional family. What he does have, however, are loyal friends, a good heart, and a razor-sharp wit.”

Jan Gardner can be reached at JanLGardner@yahoo.com. Follow her on Twitter @JanLGardner.
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