Maureen Corrigan

Maureen Corrigan, book critic for NPR's Fresh Air, is a critic-in-residence and lecturer at Georgetown University. She is an associate editor of and contributor to Mystery and Suspense Writers (Scribner) and the winner of the 1999 Edgar Award for Criticism, presented by the Mystery Writers of America.

Corrigan served as a juror for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. Her book So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came To Be and Why It Endures was published by Little, Brown in September 2014 (paperback forthcoming May 2015). Corrigan is represented by Trinity Ray at The Tuesday Lecture Agency: trinity@tuesdayagency.com

Corrigan's literary memoir, Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading! was published in 2005. Corrigan is also a reviewer and columnist for The Washington Post's Book World. In addition to serving on the advisory panel of The American Heritage Dictionary, she has chaired the Mystery and Suspense judges' panel of the Los Angeles TimesBook Prize.

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Book Reviews
1:51 pm
Thu July 23, 2015

Infidelity Is Steeped In Suspense In 'Among The Ten Thousand Things'

lydia Thompson NPR

Originally published on Thu July 23, 2015 5:00 pm

Talk about opening with a bang: at the beginning of Julia Pierpont's debut novel, Among the Ten Thousand Things, an 11-year-old girl named Kay Shanley enters the lobby of her New York City apartment building. We readers have already been clued into the fact that Kay is the kind of awkward, shy, pre-teen other girls ridicule. We just want her to get safely into her family's apartment and back to watching the Harry Potter movies she loves. But, just as the elevator doors are closing, the doorman signals for her to hold up.

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Book Reviews
12:52 pm
Mon July 13, 2015

Harper Lee's 'Watchman' Is A Mess That Makes Us Reconsider A Masterpiece

Cover detail from Go Set a Watchman.
Harper

Originally published on Mon July 13, 2015 3:11 pm

As another Southern writer once said, "You can't go home again." In Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman, which takes place in the mid-1950s, a 26-year-old Scout Finch takes the train from New York City home to Maycomb, Ala., and finds the familiar world turned mighty strange.

TV and air-conditioning have changed the landscape, and beloved childhood friends like Dill and her brother Jem have vanished. Others, like Calpurnia, look at Scout, here called by her grown-up name of "Jean Louise," as though she were, well, a white lady.

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Book Reviews
1:23 pm
Mon July 6, 2015

Dead-Cinch Thrillers: 4 Books To Get Your Heart Pounding

Lydia Thompson NPR

Originally published on Mon July 6, 2015 6:37 pm

I've just spent much of the past two weeks on my couch, reading suspense fiction. The result of all that heavy lifting is this list of recommendations — four thrillers, very different in style and MO, but all deadly accurate in their aim to entertain.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

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Book Reviews
2:46 pm
Wed June 24, 2015

'Patience And Fortitude' And The Fight To Save NYC's Storied Public Library

Cover detail of Scott Sherman's Patience and Fortitude.
Melville House Books

Originally published on Mon June 29, 2015 12:55 pm

Since it opened in 1911, the building has become a New York City landmark, praised not only for its beauty but also for its functional brilliance. In the words of one contemporary architect, the main branch of The New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street is "a perfect machine for reading." The grand Reading Room sits atop seven levels of iron and steel books stacks whose contents could, at one time, be delivered to anybody who requested a book within a matter of minutes via a small elevator. Those stacks also support the floor of the Reading Room above.

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Book Reviews
3:37 pm
Mon June 15, 2015

Morally Messy Stories, Exquisitely Told, In Mia Alvar's 'In The Country'

Lydia Thompson NPR

Originally published on Thu June 18, 2015 5:00 pm

The initial "selling point" of Mia Alvar's debut short story collection, In the Country, is its fresh subject matter: namely, Filipinos living under martial law in the 1970s in their own country and in exile, working as maids, engineers, teachers, health care workers and hired hands in the Middle East and the United States.

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Book Reviews
1:26 pm
Mon June 8, 2015

Bombs Blast And Time Marches On In 'A God In Ruins'

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

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Books
1:16 pm
Tue June 2, 2015

Four Books That Deliver Unexpected And Delightful Surprises This Summer

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. Travel near and far, literary souvenirs and the cruise ship companionship of an animal are the subjects of the novels and works of nonfiction on Maureen Corrigan's list of early summer book recommendations.

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Book Reviews
1:55 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

Misadventures And Absurdist Charm Take Root In 'George Orwell's House'

Emily Bogle NPR

Originally published on Thu May 14, 2015 11:31 am

In 1946, reeling from the death of his wife and seeking an escape from the demands of London literary life, Eric Blair, aka "George Orwell," moved to a cottage on the isle of Jura off the west coast of Scotland. What the place lacked in modern conveniences like electricity and running water, it perhaps made up for in misty views of the Atlantic and samplings of the local whiskey.

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Books
1:56 pm
Fri May 8, 2015

Remembering Ruth Rendell, Master Of Smart And Socially Aware Suspense

Ruth Rendell wrote more than 60 books, some under the pseudonym Barbara Vine.
Max Nash AP

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 4:23 pm

When the news of Ruth Rendell's death broke last weekend, I searched for some of her novels on my mystery bookshelves. Rendell, 85, wrote more than 60 novels, so I should've been able to find a few, but no dice. I'm forever giving Rendell's novels away to people who need a good book.

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Book Reviews
1:20 pm
Tue May 5, 2015

'One Of Us' Examines The Damaged Inner Terrain Of Norwegian Mass Shooter

Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Wed May 6, 2015 8:08 am

Columbine; Port Arthur, Australia; The Sikh Temple of Wisconsin; Newtown — the list goes on and on. And, by now, the elements of this type of massacre have become ritualized: usually one, but sometimes more than one, deeply disaffected person, almost always male, who is heavily armed with guns and/or explosives, targets the innocent. In the aftermath, which sometimes includes a trial, the crucial question of "Why?" is never really answered. Instead, most of us are left to wonder how any human being, however twisted, could be capable of such horror.

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Book Reviews
3:25 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Revisiting A Suburbia-Gone-Sour In Ross Macdonald's Crime Fiction

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 4:54 pm

Ross Macdonald had a smart answer to the tedious question of why he devoted his considerable talents to writing "mere" detective stories: Macdonald said that the detective story was "a kind of welder's mask enabling writers to handle dangerously hot material." Like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler (the great hard-boiled masters whom he revered), Macdonald set out to excavate the dark depths of American life, but to find his own "dangerously hot material" Macdonald descended into uncharted territory.

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Book Reviews
2:29 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

'The Children's Crusade': A Heavily Plotted Family Saga To Dive Into And Savor

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 5:13 pm

Ann Packer's new novel, The Children's Crusade, opens in California, on a scene that's so bedrock American, it's borderline corny.

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Book Reviews
3:38 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Open A Critic's 'Poetry Notebook' And Find The Works That Shaped Him

Clive James — an author, critic, broadcaster, poet, translator and memoirist — was diagnosed with leukemia a few years ago.
Courtesy of Liveright

Clive James' most anthologized poem is commonly known by its first two lines: "The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered/And I Am Pleased." Those lines tell the uninitiated almost all they need to know about the pleasures to be found in reading James: chief among them, his wit and his appreciation of the underlying absurdity of so much literary effort — including his own.

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Book Reviews
2:37 pm
Wed March 25, 2015

Do You Believe In Ghosts? You Might After Reading This Book

Originally published on Thu March 26, 2015 6:13 pm

Who doesn't love a good ghost story? The unseen hand moving a cup or the shadow climbing a staircase promises an existence beyond our mundane realities. Hannah Nordhaus' new book, American Ghost, is an offbeat mishmosh of memoir, cultural history, genealogical detective story and paranormal investigation, but it opens in the classic manner of spooky tales — with a sighting.

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Book Reviews
3:39 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

How We Deal With Loss In Different Ways In Two Beautifully Written Memoirs

Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 7:16 pm

Loss is the rough tie that binds two memoirs that, otherwise, are as different as day and night. What Comes Next and How to Like It is a sequel of sorts to Abigail Thomas' best-selling 2006 memoir, A Three Dog Life, which chronicled the one-two punch death of her husband — by her account, a sweetheart of a guy who took their dog out for a walk one afternoon in New York and was hit by a car. He suffered brain injuries and lingered for five years. Even after that catastrophe, more losses now loom for Thomas.

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Book Reviews
2:09 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

In 'The Buried Giant,' Exhausted Medieval Travelers 'Can't Go On,' But So 'Go On'

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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Book Reviews
2:19 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

'Welcome To Braggsville' Isn't Quite 'Invisible Man,' But It's Close

Emily Jan NPR

Here's only a partial list of great American writers whose names came to mind as I was reading T. Geronimo Johnson's new novel, Welcome to Braggsville: Tom Wolfe, Mark Twain, Toni Morrison, H.L. Mencken, Don DeLillo, David Foster Wallace, Norman Mailer and Ralph Ellison, Ralph Ellison, Ralph Ellison. Johnson's timely novel is a tipsy social satire about race and the oh-so-fragile ties that bind disparate parts of this country into an imperfect and restless union.

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Book Reviews
3:09 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Victorian Romance Meets 'House Of Cards' In 'Mr. And Mrs. Disraeli'

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 5:11 pm

A climb "to the top of a greasy pole" are the immortal words coined by 19th century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli to describe his rise to political power. Disraeli was two-time prime minister under Queen Victoria, as well as a novelist and famous wit whose way with a catchy phrase was rivaled in the 19th century only by his younger admirer, Oscar Wilde. But when he entered politics in the 1830s, Disraeli was burdened by debt and, even more seriously, by his Jewish parentage.

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Book Reviews
2:54 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

Funny If It Weren't So True: A Farce About 'The Importance Of Beauty'

Amanda Filipacchi is also the author of the novels Nude Men, Vapor and Love Creeps.
Marion Ettlinger Courtesy of W. W. Norton & Company

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 4:54 pm

"Does this obituary make me look fat?"

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Book Reviews
2:21 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

In 'Outline,' A Series Of Conversations Are Autobiographies In Miniature

The narrator of Rachel Cusk's new novel Outline is a novelist and divorced mother of two who has agreed to teach a summer course in creative writing in Athens. The novel itself is composed of some 10 conversations that she has with, among others, her seatmate on the plane flying to Greece, her students in the writing class, dinner companions and fellow teachers.

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