By William O’Sullivan
Susan Vreeland, author of Girl in Hyacinth Blue, inspired by a Vermeer work, has written another novel based on a painting. This time it’s the Phillips Collection’s most famous Renoir, “Luncheon of the Boating Party.” Her book of the same name is out this month.
Also in May, DC novelist Thomas Mallon, who often weaves historical fact into his fiction—such as in Dewey Defeats Truman—does it again in Fellow Travelers. Set in McCarthy-era Washington, it centers on an affair between two men, a State Department official and a younger man. Real-life figures, including the late journalist Mary McGrory, have cameos.
For Mother’s Day, National Geographic Kids editor Melina Gerosa Bellows offers The Fun Book for Moms: 102 Ways to Celebrate Family, with ideas for bringing more playfulness to mothering.
Next month, former US Marine Josh Rushing—who captured attention in the Iraq War documentary Control Room and now is a Washington correspondent for the cable-TV network Al Jazeera International—tells his story in Mission Al Jazeera: Build a Bridge, Seek the Truth, Change the World.
DC’s Kate Blackwell has been publishing stories in literary journals for years while teaching at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda. Her first book, You Won’t Remember This, is out June 30. Most of the characters in these finely crafted stories are, like Blackwell, Southerners. In “My First Wedding,” a woman recalls being set up as a 12-year-old with an unappealing boy at a wedding reception:
“He managed in the course of ten minutes to crush my small right toe and spill punch down the front of my new dress. . . . In the midst of the sultry blooming night of Augusta’s wedding, my waist and hands clasped by the boy’s hot palms as we moved heavily to imitation Duke Ellington, I yearned more than I had ever yearned for anything in my life to be reading a good book."