MediaMonday for July 16, 2012: A View from the Critics Seat, by New York Times opinion editor Arthur S. Brisbane, July 14, 2012.
A good novel is like a nautilus shell. It appears to be one thing from the outside, smooth, luminous, alluring, but inside its hard shell are chambers of characters, situations, and secrets that flow from the fantastic to the finite. On Wednesday we’ll discuss novels that examine friendships or other relationships that are cloaked in deceit or masked by secrecy. Then on Friday, July 20, Nichole Bernier joins us to discuss her debut novel, The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.
How much do you want to know your friends? Really know them—their secrets, failures, personal prejudices? Would you really want to know what they think of your mutual friends, your children, your husband? You? Bernier’s novel, The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D, takes readers into the private live of Elizabeth D through journals she bequeaths to her best friend Kate after she is killed in a plane crash. Elizabeth asks Kate to read the journals and then decide what to do with them. Inside the journals that go back dozens of years, Kate discovers an Elizabeth quite different than the friend with whom she’d shared her intimate thoughts, a woman with secrets as fresh as where she was going and with whom she was meeting the day her plane crashed. Confronted by Elizabeth’s pointed observations of herself, Kate reads and recoils through the pages, taking to heart what is true and sloughing off what isn’t.
Nichole has written for magazines including Elle,Self, Health, Men’s Journal, Child and Yankee. A 14-year contributing editor to Conde Nast Traveler magazine, she was previously on staff as a features writer, golf and ski editor and television spokesperson. After she married and moved to Boston, she joined Boston Magazine as a senior editor, where she supervised restaurant reviews, the annual Best of Boston feature, and wrote an investigative piece about environmental toxins in the suburbs that won the magazine a City and Regional Magazine Award. She is one of the founders of the literary blog Beyond the Margins, which features daily essays on the craft and business of publishing, and received her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, where she received the 1993 award for literary journalism. She is at work on her second novel, and lives outside of Boston with her husband and five children.
Follow Nichole Bernier on Twitter: @NicholeBernier.