Peter Nichols photographed by Adrian Kinloch
Peter Nichols literally shipwrecked. Hollywood bigwigs optioned screenplays of his that were never produced. Love came and went. And when he submitted a draft of The Rocks, a novel quite unlike the bestselling nautical nonfiction he’s known for (A Voyage for Madmen, 2001; Evolution’s Captain, 2003, etc.), his longterm literary agent left him.
“Bad things don’t happen to writers; it’s all material,” Garrison Keillor said—and The Rocks is so much richer for the delectable allusions to its author’s adventuresome ...
Margaret Lazarus Dean photographed by Christopher Hebert
Whether you’ve dreamed of donning a bright white suit for a zero-gravity spin, or simply stayed tuned to a shuttle launch on TV, Margaret Lazarus Dean will reignite your enthusiasm for American spaceflight.
“... I want to write about those places where the technical and the emotional intersect—like the smell of space, or the schoolchildren watching Challenger explode with a teacher aboard, or an adult woman hiding her tears in the cathedralic heights of [NASA’s] Vehicle Assembly Building, or a ...
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 ...
Barry Estabrook photographed by Kathleen Frith-Glynwood
As the author of Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit and, now, Pig Tales: An Omnivore’s Quest for Sustainable Meat, it appears Barry Estabrook is one exposé shy of taking down BLTs once and for good.
“You’re not the first one to observe that I have the makings of a trilogy,” jokes Estabrook, who’s the most affable award-winning investigative journalist I’ve ever met.
Estabrook won two James Beard Foundation Awards for food writing and ...
Elizabeth Alexander photographed by Rachel Eliza Griffiths
For the cover of The Light of the World: A Memoir, poet Elizabeth Alexander chose one of many hundreds of paintings by her late husband, Ficre Ghebreyesus. The buoyant abstract is titled “Solitary Boat in Red and Blue.”
“I chose that particular painting because I think there’s something that is haunting about it,” she says. “The boat is alone. There’s nobody in it. It’s an unpeopled picture. The boat is going somewhere. Maybe it’s going from one station ...
Emily Schultz photographed by Brian Joseph Davis
In The Blondes, a novel by Emily Schultz, a contagious disease afflicts only flaxen-haired females. Prior to death, victims of Siphonaptera Human Virus (SHV), popularly known as “Gold Fever” or “California Rabies,” are highly prone to violent attacks.
“ ‘Save it, Burroughs! Her brain’s bleached. She can’t hear you,’ ” one police officer shouts to another at John F. Kennedy International Airport, while subduing a flight attendant. The woman attempted to maul a toddler.
The airport scene ...
Troy Andrews photographed by Joe del Tufo
You’re going to want to know who Trombone Shorty is—just like Bo Diddley did.
During his performance at the 1990 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Diddley heard a horn in the crowd. “Who’s that playing out there?” he asked the audience.
“Everyone started pointing, but Bo Diddley couldn’t see me because I was the smallest one in the place! So my mom held me up in the air and said, ‘That’s my son, Trombone Shorty!’ ” writes ...
Mary Norris photographed by Josef Astor
Move over, Merriam, and watch out, Webster: Mary Norris is a logophile’s new best friend.
As a copy editor at The New Yorker, Norris became a doyenne of dashes and diaereses, those double dots over adjacent vowels that we (i.e., I) naïvely thought were umlauts. Over decades she’s corrected a remarkable roster of the world’s best writers, from Rushdie to Remnick.
“One of the things I like about my job is that it draws on the entire person: not ...