Maureen Corrigan

Maureen Corrigan, book critic for NPR's Fresh Air, is a critic-in-residence and lecturer at Georgetown University. She is an associate editor of and contributor to Mystery and Suspense Writers (Scribner) and the winner of the 1999 Edgar Award for Criticism, presented by the Mystery Writers of America.

Corrigan served as a juror for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. Her book So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came To Be and Why It Endures was published by Little, Brown in September 2014 (paperback forthcoming May 2015). Corrigan is represented by Trinity Ray at The Tuesday Lecture Agency: trinity@tuesdayagency.com

Corrigan's literary memoir, Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading! was published in 2005. Corrigan is also a reviewer and columnist for The Washington Post's Book World. In addition to serving on the advisory panel of The American Heritage Dictionary, she has chaired the Mystery and Suspense judges' panel of the Los Angeles TimesBook Prize.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . Transcript TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Book critic Maureen Corrigan says that Elizabeth McKenzie, whose short stories have appeared in the New Yorker, has the kind of imagination that discovers hidden pockets of weirdness within the conventional marriage plot. Here's her review of McKenzie's new novel, "The Portable Veblen." MAUREEN CORRIGAN, BYLINE: Elizabeth McKenzie's novel "The Portable Veblen" makes me think of some...

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air .

There's so much to like about the classy Last Interview series, but one of the things I now like best about it is the heavenly trio who was recently added to the line-up: Ernest Hemingway, Philip K. Dick, and Nora Ephron. Can you think of three writers who, on the face of it, would have had less to say to each other at a dinner party? Hemingway would have knocked back the booze and gone all moody and silent; the notoriously paranoid Dick would have been under the table checking for...

This year, most of the best stories I read came in small-ish packages. Many books that were either big in size — like Garth Risk Hallberg's over-900-page opus, City on Fire , and Jonathan Franzen's 500-plus page Purity — ended up being just "OK." The same, in my opinion, went for some books that generated "big buzz," like Lauren Groff's Fates and Furies . Short stories and fragmented, intense memoirs dominate my best books list, along with the incredible true story of a...

Mary Gaitskill writes tough. Her characters are almost always "users" — users of drugs and other people; they're often mean and manipulative and flooded with self-loathing. In short, to quote the title of her debut short story collection, Gaitskill writes about people who are no strangers to "bad behavior." You have to write tough — and brilliantly — to pull off a novel like The Mare . The story opens on a dark-skinned, 11-year-old Dominican girl from Brooklyn named Velveteen Vargas...

I hate to make so much of Roger Angell's age, but he started it. Angell is 95, and he's written decades' worth of books and articles (many of them about baseball), humor pieces, profiles, and poems — some of which are gathered in this new collection called, This Old Man. The title comes from an essay he wrote for The New Yorker in February 2014 about what it's like to live into extreme old age. That essay knocked it out of the park the way only a stellar piece of writing...

Mention Oscar Hijuelos and most people think The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. And why not? It's his gorgeous second novel, the one that won him the Pulitzer Prize in 1990. More novels followed, as well as a memoir, but much of that work carried trace elements of the exuberance and melancholy that made Mambo Kings so distinctive. Hijuelos' sudden in death in 2013 was one of those literary deaths that genuinely seemed to sadden a lot of readers — his work was beloved for,...

Copyright 2015 Fresh Air. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/programs/fresh-air/ . Transcript TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. In this season of witches, a new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stacy Schiff re-examines the most famous witches tale of them all. Book critic Maureen Corrigan has a review of "The Witches." MAUREEN CORRIGAN, BYLINE: It's our national campfire story, the Salem witch hunts, of course. Specifically the nine months in 1692 when the town of Salem and...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Garth Risk Hallberg has been living every aspiring novelist's dream - a reported $2 million book contract with a major publisher for his debut novel. Hallberg's novel, "City On Fire," started generating serious literary buzz well before it was published last week. Here's what our book critic, Maureen Corrigan has to say about it. MAUREEN CORRIGAN, BYLINE: Back in the 1980s, I remember...

In Patti Smith's new memoir, the "M Train" figures as a Magical Mystery line. She rides it far off into Memoryland, and her snaking Mental trains of thought carry her into reveries on subjects as wide-ranging as her passionate appetite for detective stories and her surprising membership in an elite scientific society devoted to the subject of continental drift. Smith travels far afield geographically, too, in this memoir, making pilgrimages to the homes and graves of beloved writers and...

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