← 1981 | 1983 →


Hard to believe our 40th is upon us. Big thanks to fundraising superstar Joe Barrett and Virginia Pye for hosting a happy hour to reconnect us before we saw each other IRL at the reunion (yay!).

You sent some great book recommendations. I’ve already devoured Elizabeth Feigelson’s suggestion, We All Need New Names by Zimbabwean NoViolet Vulawayo, and Ginny Pye’s, Still Life by Sarah Winman, set in Florence. Ginny has a new book coming out, but that’s hush-hush til the deal is inked.

Charita Brown’s memoir, Defying the Verdict: My Bipolar Life (2018), is particularly relevant now because of the uptick in mental-health illness diagnoses during the pandemic. Charita is on the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) board of directors, was featured in a NAMI short doc, Shattering Racial Stereotypes to Defy the Verdict (on YouTube), and was awarded the Baltimore group’s 2021 Marcia G. Pines Lifetime Advocacy and Service Award. Congratulations!

The wait is almost over: The novel Peter Blauner started writing in 2002, Picture in the Sand, will be out early next year from Minotaur/St. Martin’s Press. Meantime, he’s writing shorter pieces for the New York Daily News and Nancy Rommelmann’s ’83 website Paloma Media. He says Christ in Concrete by Di Donato is an overlooked knockout read.

Speaking of the devil, Matthew Capece writes that while he and his wife Alexis were sipping port and eating nata in Portugal, he read Blauner’s Highway—“a disturbing and gutsy novel.”

David S. Parker, too, has a book out in May: The Pen, the Sword, and the Law: Dueling and Democracy in Uruguay (McGill-Queen’s Press). Yes, he says, it’s a history book from an academic press about a faraway place, but it’s written for the nonexpert with a good mix of jaw-dropping storytelling to balance out the historical-legal explanation of why Uruguay was the only country in the world to legalize dueling, between 1920 and 1992. I must know!

Maya Sonenberg’s third collection of short stories, Bad Mothers, Bad Daughters, received the Richard Sullivan Prize and will appear in August 2022 (University of Notre Dame Press). Her daughter is a freshman at Wes, and she met up with Sam and Ellen (Friedman) Bender at Homecoming/Family Weekend in October, when she also picked apples at Lyman Orchards, ate at O’Rourke’s, and hiked at Wadsworth Falls. She recommends In Memory of Memory by Maria Stepanova.

Jonathan Weber is back from Singapore with a new job, editor in chief of an ambitious online news start-up called The San Francisco Standard. He’s delighted to have teamed up with executive editor Heather Grossmann ’98 to reinvigorate local news.

Congrats to Rachael Adler, who married twice this year (to the same guy)—a COVID wedding at a clerk’s office during the pandemic, then August with the whole family. They moved to Oakland, launched her daughter to college, and she just completed her first semester of graduate school in psychology at the Wright Institute. Whew!

Rob Lancefield retired early from a 27-year career in museum work, most recently as head of IT at the Yale Center for British Art. While continuing some service with professional organizations, Rob is enjoying a simpler life with very little Zoom. He looks forward to reacquainting himself with his favorite guitar.

No sooner did Karen Paz move permanently to her summer house in Maine than she was elected a town selectperson. She recommends The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

Patty Smith was appointed to Virginia Governor Northam’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Board. She and her wife Cindy married on April 4, 2020, in an early Zoom wedding. She recommends Brian Castleberry’s Nine Shiny Objects, and Stephanie Grant’s ’84 memoir Disgust.

Other book recommendations:

Emilie Attwell: The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish. (“She was told as a girl she could either see a psychiatrist or go to a comedy camp!” says Emilie, who, being the former, had to laugh.)

Karen Wise:  Amor Towles’s A Gentleman of Moscow.

Jim Dray: The Prince of the Skies by Antonio Iturbe, based on the extraordinary life of Antoine De Saint-Exupery (The Little Prince).

Dena Wallerson: Kliph Nesteroff’s We Had a Little Real Estate Problem: The Unheralded Story of Native Americans and Comedy.

Susan Cole: The Warmth of Other Suns and Caste by Isabel Wilkerson.

Paul Meltzer: Japanese movies from the 1950s, especially those directed by Ozu, Kinoshita, Naruse, Ichikawa, and Kobayashi.

Jon Philip Rosenberg (who just finished writing the second edition of Atlas Shrunk): Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III and Red Notice by Bill Browder.

Finally, a shout-out to my co-secretary Michael Ostacher, for exceptional achievement in macaroon making (especially the ones dipped in dark chocolate). My husband Peter Eckart ’86 pronounced, “Everything in the world that is perfect is encapsulated in a macaroon by Michael O!” Indeed.