Each of the sixteen chapters of Nom de Plume tells the story of how one author came to write under a different name, from how Samuel Clemens became Mark Twain to how Sylvia Plath became Victoria Lucas. Ciuraru constructs each story as part biography, part psychological profile. The tacit argument of Nom de Plume is that you can learn a lot about somebody by who they say they are, and why they say they are not.
Engaging without being breezy, informative without being pedantic, these essays offer insightful, fascinating literary portraits without the solemness and heft of so many literary biographies. By giving us a specific angle on the lives of these complex figures, Ciuraru gets to the essence of their lives efficiently and evocatively, which makes for pleasant and piquant summer literary non-fiction.
I am pleased to be giving away a copy of Nom de Plume this week, courtesy of HarperCollins. Send an email to readingape AT gmail DOT com by Friday, June 10th, 11:59pm EST. Also this week: my daily Literary Fact of the Day on Twitter will come each day from Nom de Plume. So check that out too.
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