State by State

Where are you from? Well, if you're not of the "born and raised in?" variety, you know the question is complicated and emotional. Is it where you live presently, the place you were born, or perhaps where you spent the most time? I suspect that the answer lies deep in the soil of the place that one feels most "at home," where folks are not only familiar but share a common view. Sean Wilsey and Matt Weiland, the editors of State by State, inspired by the WPA Guides written during the Great Depression, have taken the notion one step further: to answer that question in a compilation of personal essays that distill the essence of each state, defining home through quirks, curiosities, and, of course, people. Venturing beyond the WPA Guides' sometimes stuffy summaries, Weiland explains that he asked each writer (an illustrious bunch of naturalized citizens and native sons and daughters, such as Jhumpa Lahiri, Anthony Bourdain, Jonathan Franzen, and Dave Eggers) to mine their personal archive of memory and produce a view of their home state that is "more personal, more eccentric and more partial." Opening with a tale describing Wilsey's own road trip foibles, the resulting patchwork of memoirs unfolds like the countryside before a windshield, at times shadowy and strange, at others comforting and familiar. Taken together, they act as a road map for a magical armchair journey winding through every state and spanning several decades. It's a memorable sojourn in one great big movable feast of a book filled with laughter and tears, nostalgia and hope, and a strong sense of place.

July 29: On this day in 1878 Don Marquis was born.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.


When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).