A fresh look at Duras, a tour of ‘Little Women,’ and an historic class at Harvard


Providence-based translator and co-owner of Riffraff Books Emma Ramadan’s most recent translation, with Olivia Baes, is a collection of nonfiction by the French writer and filmmaker Marguerite Duras who died in 1996 at age 81. “Me & Other Writing” (Dorothy) collects short and long essays as well as journalism by Duras. Best known for her novel “The Lover,” Duras’s work is intimate, charged, personal, political, and deeply intelligent. “Women have a real wildness in them, men are the victims of influential thinkers, they are plagiarists of learned behaviors, sexual, intellectual, etc. Now that women go into the forest, they are infinitely freer than men.” Ramadan and Baes capture her electricity in their sentences, and the selection highlights not just Duras’s primary concerns, but her range. In a note from the translators, they write of allowing “the mysterious [to] remain mysterious,” in Duras’s work. “Our guiding light throughout Duras’s sentences, which turn tauntingly opaque when isolated from the rest, was her rhythm. Her incantatory rhythm that distracts you from any literal meaning, carrying you into the deep flow of her text, that inner current of genius.”



Bowing to Greta Gerwig’s new film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women,” the Boston by Foot tour company has created a Little Women Scavenger Hunt, with clues that lead hunters to spots where the film was shot, as well as to significant locations in the life of Alcott and her family. For example, in Beacon Hill, one clue references a scene in which Meg March borrows a gown from Annie Moffat to line up on a grand staircase. In the movie, the scene was shot “in this Federal style historical house owned and operated by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America [in a] five-story brick home which is located across from the Boston Common.” A downtown church, built in 1754, was where Alcott’s parents got married in 1830, and one clue further afield leads to a park/research institution used as a setting in the film for a carriage ride through a Parisian park. Learn more about Louise May Alcott, Boston, and Gerwig’s acclaimed new movie. The sites are centered around the Back Bay, Theater District, Beacon Hill, and downtown Boston. For more information and to get the full list of clues, visit www.bostonbyfoot.org/little-women-scavenger-hunt-guide.



Kent Garrett left a long career in network television news and took up organic dairy farming in retirement. One afternoon, feeling the toll of farming on the body, he got the Harvard alumni magazine in the mail —he’d graduated in 1963 — and he was struck with an idea. In a new book The Last Negroes at Harvard: The Class of 1963 and the 18 Young Men Who Changed Harvard Forever” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), (due out early next month), Garrett and his partner Jeanne Ellsworth tell the story of the 18 young black men Harvard recruited for the class entering in the fall of 1959, exploring their lives at Harvard and afterwards. Garrett and Ellsworth write of the back-slapping white privilege at the university, and what it meant to exist within, and outside, this world. The book offers intimate mini-biographies of these men, and explores, with candor, verve, and a documentary journalist’s precision, a historic crossroads between the elite echelons of higher education and the civil rights movement.


Coming Out

In the Land of Men: A Memoir by Adrienne Miller (Ecco)

Dawoud Bey: Two American Projectsby Corey Keller and Elisabeth Sherman (Yale)

The Conservation Revolution: Radical Ideas for Saving Nature Beyond the Anthropoceneby Bram Buscher and Robert Fletcher (Verso)

Pick of the Week

Brad L at Harvard Book Store recommends “The Infernal Bestiary” by Justine Ternel and Matthieu Hacklère (Gingko): “I love a d book of imaginary beings, and this one is just beautiful. Based on an early 19th century text, and focused on the minions of hell, the artist has re-imagined the mostly unheard of (at least by me) demons and fallen angels into something crossed between ‘The Babadook’ and something from a Miyazaki film.”

Nina MacLaughlin is the author of “Wake, Siren: Ovid Resung.” She can be reached at nmaclaughlin@gmail.com.