Writers on Research
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: Minnesota Historical Society Press
Title Page, Copyright
Bruce Joshua Miller
This remarkable collection of thirteen original essays presents an engaging mix of writers—novelists, historians of science and literature, journalists, and a filmmaker—who explore, in a personal and informal way, the excitement or disappointment of scrutinizing books, periodicals, photographs, and other documents in libraries, conducting face-to-face interviews, or wandering obscure and lonely...
Stay Here as Long as You Like
One Sunday morning in the fall of 1990, I read a story in Picture Magazine, a supplement to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. I was drawn to the story because on the contributors’ page there was a photo with the caption “Minnesota Author Will Weaver.” He was bearded and windblown, clearly standing on the plains somewhere looking upward to the place where good...
To Understand You Must Break In
In the last forty minutes of wakefulness there comes without fail a bitter drift of self-loathing and doubt. Especially in the days before taking my first published novel, Morkan’s Quarry, back to readers in my home place, Springfield, Missouri, this anxiety crept up from the floor, from around bookshelves, from the grout in bathroom tile. Often it was as fleeting as gray vapor...
Dating Albert Einstein
Alberto A. Martínez
Bait and switch—no I won’t talk about Einstein’s secret girlfriends or the brazen socialites who visited the married man to briefly say hello to his German wife, his cousin, gifting her some chocolates or pastries, only to then leave her there and take the celebrity away on a sailboat...
Research Can Be Murder
Katherine Hall Page
I have had a lifelong love of research. Possibly it started junior year in high school with the little dark green metal box I meticulously filled with 3x5–inch index cards for a very wordy final paper about the creation and development of the US Foreign Service— each lined card corresponding to my detailed outline with source...
He Liked Custard
I drive along the track, past the lake with its many swans, and park at the foot of Mount Helgafell. A narrow sheep path zigzags up the hillside through the long grass. Despite its name, Mount Helgafell is only a little over three hundred meters high, but it is famous as the home of Gudrun, a heroine of the Sagas. I climb slowly...
Prospecting the Past
Theodore Kornweibel, Jr
I’m a historian, and a prospector. I dig for buried veins and pan for specks of the past which, when patiently collected, yield lasting treasures. If you Walter Mitty me, I wouldn’t choose to be a heart surgeon or a rock star. Too prosaic. Amazonian explorer or astronaut? Not exciting enough. For real thrills, give me history, raw history...
A Good Turn Every Day
The official Boy Scout Diary for 1926 had a red cover with black lettering and was a little over two and a half inches wide and five and an eighth inches long. It contained 240 pages, including almost 120 pages of useful information on scoutcraft, weights and measures, and the population of regions in the United States with Boy Scout councils...
Curious Encounters in My Search for Vinland
In 1961, while still an undergraduate English major at Brooklyn College in New York, I won a scholarship for summer study abroad. Eager to experience life in a country about which I then knew next to nothing, I used the scholarship to enroll in the literature program at the University of Oslo in Norway...
Comanches, Cowboys, and a Political Rock Star
I learned not long ago that I’ve exceeded the average life expectancy of alligators and great horned owls. I sure haven’t had to work as hard for my dinners, and my history of wise choices is not compelling. But I take some satisfaction in my belief that my two best books came after I qualified for Social Security...
The Mad Bomber Guy
Bruce Joshua Miller
During the week of January 21, 1990, I received a letter from George Peter Metesky, serial pipe bomber, injured utility worker, devout Catholic, paranoiac, Marine veteran, inventor, and compulsive letter writer, who had been arrested at his home in the Brooklyn section of Waterbury, Connecticut...
Philip J. Anderson
In the early spring of 1977, I visited an old high school classmate who was pursuing a PhD at an elite midwestern university. Late in the evening he told me that the next morning he had an appointment with a reference librarian with whom he had met earlier in the week to discuss his newly approved dissertation...
An Essayist’s Guide to Research and Family Life
When you have two writers in the house, research becomes a family project, a way of life. It seeps into everything the family does—the whole family. Family vacations, dinner parties, birthdays are all bound up with our research. My wife and I give each other old books for Christmas. In the summers we have taken our kids...
Your Research—or Your Life!
Let me tell you about a research project that literally saved my life. This would be going back, oh, quite a few decades, when I was fresh out of Columbia University with a useless master’s degree in comparative literature, granted in those days by the philosophy department, further guaranteeing...
Publication Year: 2014
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