Monday, February 2, 2009

A "Sunny Scrapbook" and Save Book World!

It was startling to come across the following in a Washington Post Book World review of Scrapbooks: An American History, by Jessica Helfand:

“Helfand explains that she chose scrapbooks that, above all, “tell a story worth telling.” Take, for example, the one kept by a 19-year-old girl who eloped from her Boston home. On one page is a faded color photograph of the achingly young couple lounging on beach chairs with the caption “us,” along with the taped-in key to their Virginia Beach hotel room. Two pages later comes a telegram from her forgiving parents: “Two such sweet young people should make a fine combination.” The young bride pastes in laundry lists, gin rummy tallies, her husband’s apology note after their first fight. She also starts to write poetry: romantic rhyming couplets and letters, ripped from a magazine, that spell “Bleat, Bleat.” The sunny scrapbook belonged to Anne Sexton, years before she found fame as a poet, her marriage imploded in abuse and infidelity, and she committed suicide.”

The review was written by Caroline Preston and can be found here.

Here’s a link to "Lament," an Anne Sexton poem that I love; I used several lines from it as an epigraph to my novel A Year and a Day:

The supper dishes are over and the sun
unaccustomed to anything else
goes all the way down.


And speaking of Book World—which, regrettably, the Washington Post is about to shutter—Women’s National Book Association (WNBA), Washington Chapter President, NC Weil urges readers and writers to protest the decision:

"Less than a week after Ron Charles received the Nona Balakian Citationfrom the National Book Critics Circle for excellence in reviewing, the Washington Post announced the end of Book World as a stand-alone Sunday supplement. Book reviews will be incorporated into a re-formatted Style and Outlook section starting Feb. 22nd.

Protest this decision!

Katharine Graham, long-time publisher of the Washington Post, said, "sales be damned, because the mark of a good newspaper was its book section." Amen to that!

The Washington Post needs to hear from readers, right away, if they are to reconsider. Send your comments to and put "Save Book World" in the subject line."

NC Weil ( is the President of the Washington, DC Chapter of the Women's National Book Association (, a network of women and men devoted to books and literacy for over 90 years.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.