Alexander Chee photographed by M. Sharkey
For all that is unknown of Lilliet Berne—her origins, her allegiances, her real name—there’s one indisputable fact: she has a once-in-a-generation voice. In Alexander Chee’s sophomore novel, The Queen of the Night, the tragic soprano narrates her legendary life, beginning with two memorable entrances to the Sénat Bal at Luxembourg Palace, Paris, in the warm autumn of 1882.
“Lilliet Berne, La Générale, newly returned to Paris after a year spent away, the Falcon soprano whose voice was so delicate it ...
Maria Konnikova photographed by Margaret Singer and Max Freeman
Maria Konnikova wasn’t born yesterday. She’s a successful journalist with a Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia University and the author of 2013’s Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, a New York Times bestseller. And yet, while watching the David Mamet film House of Games with her husband, she found herself identifying with a character who becomes the mark in a big-time con.
“Here’s a woman who’s kind of like me—she’s intelligent, skeptical, savvy,” Konnikova says. “She has ...
Helen Ellis photographed by Michael Lionstar
When Helen Ellis was in the eighth grade in Alabama, an algorithm determined she was destined to become a writer. Or, you know, something like it.
“When I was in the eighth grade in 1983, we were all doing the What Color Is Your Parachute? what-you-should-be test, and my result was I should be a writer or a mortician,” Ellis says. “I’m creative and I enjoy being alone, which also makes me a really good housewife.”
Today, Ellis ...
Sunil Yapa photographed by Gilbert Chong
When tens of thousands of people took to the Seattle streets to protest the globalization of corporate capitalism, Sunil Yapa was there in spirit.
“I was completely engaged on an intellectual level,” says Yapa, who was a Penn State undergraduate when the “Battle of Seattle” raged downtown during the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1999. The highly organized peaceful protest was met by Seattle Police with pepper spray, tear gas, stun grenades and mass arrests—tactics that ultimately led ...
Harrison Scott Key photographed by Chia Chong
A funny thing happened to Harrison Scott Key when a publicist sent out press kits for his debut memoir, The World’s Largest Man: he wound up on Southern Living’s “50 Best-Dressed Southerners 2015.”
In one photo, Key mimes reading aloud to a mounted wildebeest head. He wears a square-patterned bow tie, plaid shirt, blue blazer with a red banana for a pocket square, and mustard-colored jeans.
“My wife hates the way I dress and so basically her disgust ...
Authors of LEO: A GHOST STORY
Barnett and Robinson by Irene Kim
Lonely Leo longs for a friend—someone who sees and accepts him for who he truly is. The seeing part is the problem.
“This is Leo. Most people cannot see him,” Mac Barnett writes at the beginning of Leo. The accompanying illustration, by Christian Robinson, is of a windowed, wallpapered room with a table holding books and a candlestick phone. No Leo.
Turn the page, and that image gets a notable addition: a bow-tied boy sits under the table, reading ...
We talk to some of the masterminds reinventing cookbooks
Mario Batali just took me on a guided tour of his latest cookbook, America Farm to Table—and he’ll happily do the same for you.
“All the recipes in this book are inspired by farmers in appreciation of the incredible amount of work they do to bring quality food to our table,” Batali says. “Let’s take a walk through this amazing interactive ebook and explore the tools I’ve developed to guide your cooking.” He ends with an ...
Kelly Link photographed by Sharona Jacobs.
Unlike most story collections, Kelly Link’s Get in Trouble does not take its title from a short story therein. But that’s only the first way it’s unlike most collections.
Link (Magic for Beginners, 2005) is the celebrated author of wonder-filled short stories for adult and YA audiences. Her books have been categorized as fantasy, horror, mystery, magic realism, slipstream and science fiction. They’ve been creatively shelved at bookstores.
“Occasionally I get email from people that say that they’ve seen Magic ...