Category Archives: Books and Arts

Capturing the Struggles of Military Families In Blue Stars, a Novel

Emily Gray Tedrowe ’95

Emily Gray Tedrowe ’95

When Emily Gray Tedrowe ’95’s brother, a Marine, was serving in Iraq in 2006, she ignored news of the war and tried to stay focused on caring for her newborn baby: “I was just so focused on getting through the experience that for a long time I didn’t want to read or write about war at all,” she says.

But after her brother’s safe return, she found herself thinking about the lives of those who remain behind when their loved ones go to war. Drawing on her own experiences and extensive research about military families and veterans, Tedrowe wrote Blue Stars, a novel about the struggles of families coping with a wounded soldier returning from war.

Tedrowe introduces readers to two women: Ellen, a bookish literature professor who sends short stories to her adopted son during his deployment; and Lacey, a wayward young mother who marries a soldier for stability and struggles to play the dutiful Army wife. When both soldiers are injured, the women relocate to apartments near Walter Reed Army Medical Center, enduring months of unresponsive doctors and bureaucratic mismanagement as they fight for better care for the men, who have psychological wounds. Continue reading

For Busy Adults, a Hands-on Approach to Becoming More Creative

Danny Gregory ’82

Danny Gregory ’82

Who has time for art these days? “You don’t have a second to catch your breath. To smell the roses or the coffee. Your life is getting more and more full and crazy,” Danny Gregory ’82 writes in Art Before Breakfast: A Zillion Ways to Be More Creative No Matter How Busy You Are. Gregory believes that art can make people “saner and happier,” and help them be present and really see the beautiful things they already have. He offers pages filled with striking illustrations, accompanied by instructions for drawing activities that readers can do in a few minutes every day.

Readers learn how to make “art with a small ‘a’,” starting on the first day by drawing the contours of their breakfast. Next, Gregory encourages them to draw their medicine cabinets, their reflections in the coffee pot, their napping children, passing strangers, and animals in a zoo. There are activities to do during traffic jams, at the doctor’s office, and with groups of friends. Ultimately, Gregory writes, “Creativity can become a habit that fits into your life, like Pilates or flossing, only a lot more fulfilling.” Continue reading

Heather Butts ’94 Chronicles the Lives of African American Health Care Workers During the Civil War

Heather Butts ’94

Heather Butts ’94

In African American Medicine in Washington, D.C: Healing the Capital During the Civil War Era, Heather Butts ’94 chronicles the largely unsung service of African American health care workers during the Civil War.

Obtaining health care training was a difficult task for African Americans. Alexander Augusta learned to read in secret and had to leave the United States to study at a medical school in Canada, Butts writes. Augusta wrote to President Abraham Lincoln and the secretary of war, seeking an appointment as a physician in an African American regiment, and eventually was appointed surgeon of the United States Colored Troops. But even as he provided care for soldiers, Augusta faced racism. While traveling from the D.C. area to Philadelphia, he was surrounded by an angry mob that threatened his life. Continue reading

Q & A: Maya Rock ’02 on Her Novel Scripted

Maya Rock ’02

Maya Rock ’02

Q: What is your novel about?

A: The book is set on an island whose inhabitants are on a reality show that’s filmed 24 hours a day. They’re all aware of it. If characters get poor ratings, they’re cut, and no one knows what happens to them.

Scripted explores identity using the lens of reality television.  The people on the show — the characters — have to figure out how much of their identity is self-generated and how much comes from performing for an audience.

Q: You worked as a literary agent. How did that background help you?

A: Having been a literary agent kept me from romanticizing publishing. It was easier for me to believe that rejection and criticism weren’t personal because I had rejected and criticized so many manuscripts.

9780399257339_large_Scripted (1)Q: Your book is for young adults, a category that has soared in popularity recently and has lots of adult readers. Why did you want to write a YA book?

A: When I was growing up just outside New York, I had access to the New Rochelle Public Library, which has a great children’s and young adult collection. I started writing as a hobby, and I experimented with writing in a lot of different genres, but this was the only one I’d managed to write a novel in. On a gut level, YA always felt fun to me.

Kardos ’92 Pens Psychological Thriller

Michael Kardos ’92

Michael Kardos ’92

In 2012, The New York Times Book Review wrote, “Michael Kardos’ first novel, The Three Day Affair, is so disturbing it makes you wonder what he might have in mind for his second book.” That novel, Before He Finds Her, takes readers to a small town on the Jersey Shore where, 15 years before, Ramsey Miller murdered his wife and three-year-old daughter. Everyone in the town of Silver Bay knows the story, but the story they know isn’t correct. Ramsey’s daughter, Melanie Denison, wasn’t murdered. She is living in a witness-protection program and, at 17, is pregnant.

Driven by the hope of providing a normal life for her child, Melanie returns to Silver Bay to find her father before he finds her. Kardos intertwines the story of Melanie’s search with an account of the days leading up to the murder. Probing the complex psychology of his characters, Kardos investigates a fundamental question: Can people really change? Filled with characters who have gone down dangerous paths, the novel explores relationships distorted by blind faith.  Continue reading

From Ballet to B-Boying: Margaret Fuhrer ’06 Writes a History of American Dance

Margaret Fuhrer ’06

Margaret Fuhrer ’06

Famed choreographer Jerome Robbins originally conceived the plot of the musical West Side Story as a tale between rival Italian and Irish gangs on the Lower East Side, so the show would have been called East Side Story. Breakdancing, the 1980s street dance phenomenon, actually was called “b-boying” by its practitioners. These are a few of the nuggets unearthed by Margaret Fuhrer ’06 for her book American Dance: The Complete Illustrated History.

Fuhrer explores the history and evolution of dance, from Native American rituals that are hundreds of years old to the hip-hop move known as the Dougie. Fuhrer, who is editor-in-chief of Dance Spirit magazine, trained as a classical ballerina until a knee injury in high school derailed her dreams of a career as a dancer. After graduating from Princeton, she earned a master’s degree at New York University in cultural reporting and criticism so she could combine her passions for writing and dance. “Having been inside dance, having felt the way it feels, really does inform the way you write about it,” she says.

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