fb-pixel Skip to main content
new england literary news

Old South Meeting House knows history

Know your history

Whether or not you know much about Boston’s literary history, the Old South Meeting House promises a good time on April 1 at its quiz show “The Fife is Right.”

It’s a can’t-lose proposition as the price of admission includes a slice of Boston cream pie, courtesy of literary landmark Omni Parker House, and a selection of other desserts. The audience will play a key role, voting on answers and responding to lifelines. Quizmaster Susan Wilson is a longtime guide for local walking tours who has written numerous books about Boston history. Fifer Dan Moylan will make note of every correct answer.


Historian Richard Smith will be dressed as Henry David Thoreau. Jan Turnquist likely will show up as Louisa May Alcott or one of the other literary women she is known to portray. Smith and Turnquist, executive director of Alcott’s Orchard House in Concord, will be joined in the contest by walking tour guide Barry DeVincke; L’Merchie Frazier, curator of “Freedom Rising: Reading, Writing and Publishing Black Books” at Boston’s Museum of African American History; Larry Lindner, coordinator of the Boston Literary District; and Sharon Shaloo, executive director of the Massachusetts Center for the Book. The six experts will be divided into two teams competing against each other.

Advance tickets are $15, $18 at the door. Doors open at 6:30; the show starts at 7. Attendees will have a chance to win an overnight stay at the Omni Parker House, which counts Charles Dickens as one of its most famous guests.

Confederate soldier memoir

Confederate soldier John Wesley Bone, who at 18 in 1861 enlisted in a North Carolina regiment, fought in many battles. One time he awaited rescue for three days after a bullet pierced his chest. He recovered, rejoined his regiment, and stayed through the end of the war.

Years later, in his memoir, he wrote, “Everywhere it is believed that our brigade fired the last gun that was fired by the Confederates at Appomattox.” A new edition, “Record of a Soldier in the Late War: The Confederate Memoir of John Wesley Bone” (Chinquapin), includes annotations, details about Bone’s life before and after the war, battlefield maps, and illustrations. It is the work of Bone’s great-granddaughter, Julianne Bone Mehegan, and her husband, former Boston Globe staffer David Mehegan. They are returning to their alma mater, Suffolk University, to give a talk and slideshow at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Sawyer Library.


Mother and author reunion

Twenty-five years ago PEN New England hosted a panel of mothers who write to discuss the challenges and rewards. At 3 p.m. March 29 at Cambridge Public Library, a powerhouse panel will revisit the topic. The panelists are novelists Lily King, Claire Messud, Kim McLarin, and Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Megan Marshall. The moderator will be Heidi Pitlor, a mother of twins who managed to write a novel, which is being published in May, while reading 3,000 stories a year as series editor for “The Best American Short Stories” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

Coming out

 “The Stranger” by Harlan Coben (Dutton)

 “The Cavendon Women” by Barbara Taylor Bradford (St. Martin’s)

 “The Precious One” by Marisa de los Santos (Morrow)

Pick of the Week

Liberty Hardy of RiverRun Books in Portsmouth, N.H., recommends “An Exaggerated Murder” by Josh Cook (Melville House): “Private investigator Trike Augustine is rude, slobby, and irritatingly brilliant. He has been tasked with finding a missing billionaire, but will the stupid clues stump the smart man or will Trike manage to keep himself and his associates out of harm’s way and solve the case before it’s too late?”


Jan Gardner can be reached at JanLGardner@yahoo.com.