Alice McDermott's characters can often be described as average, and Marie, the heroine of her latest novel, is no exception. But critic Maureen Corrigan says the power of McDermott's writing is that she can make even Marie's run-of-the-mill life one for the record books.
Poet, editor, and novelist Seamus Deane. His first novel, Reading in the Dark," (Knopf) came out earlier this year, a chronicle of a boy growing up in Northern Ireland in the 1950's. Deane recounts the story of a family haunted by a missing uncle and his tie to the greater Troubles surrounding them all. "Reading in the Dark" was short-listed for the United Kingdom's esteemed literary prize, the Booker. Deane is the editor of the Norton "Field Day Anthology," the definitive collection of Irish literature.
Novelist Frank Conroy. At 57, he's just published his first novel, "Body & Soul" (Houghton & Mifflin). He is currently the director of the prestigious Iowa Writers Program, and this novel has been long awaited by fans of his 1967 autobiography "Stop Time". Conroy has one other book, a collection of short stories called "Midair"; he's worked as a jazz pianist in Greenwich Village and Nantucket for many years.