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About the Author

Melissa H. Pierson is the author of four works of nonfiction: The Perfect Vehicle, Dark Horses and Black Beauties, The Place You Love Is Gone, and The Man Who Would Stop at Nothing. She writes on books and culture for a number of publications. Her new book, The Secret History of Happiness, will be published in 2015.

How to Change Your Mind

SCIENCE

How to Change Your Mind

Reviewed by Melissa H. Pierson ×

Tune in, turn on and turn off the "default-mode network": Michael Pollan takes a trip into the neuroscience of psychedelics.
Acid West

ESSAYS

Acid West

Reviewed by Melissa H. Pierson ×

"Everything gets connected" in Joshua Wheeler's freewheeling journey through American extremes.
The Afterlives

FICTION

The Afterlives

Reviewed by Melissa H. Pierson ×

Romance and philosophy mix in Thomas Pierce's paradox-fueled debut novel.
Up the Masthead

AMERICAN LITERATURE

Up the Masthead

Essay by Melissa H. Pierson ×

A writer takes a turn in Herman Melville's chair -- or the next best thing -- to find inspiration, and courage against the blankness of the page.
Silence, s’il vous plaît!

BEYOND CATEGORY

Silence, s’il vous plaît!

By Melissa H. Pierson ×

The discovery of a cache of Marcel Proust's letters -- and a new translation by Lydia Davis -- help give us a portrait of the easily-distracted writer at work. Essay by Melissa H. Pierson.
There’s a Mystery There: The Primal Vision of Maurice Sendak

BEYOND CATEGORY

There’s a Mystery There: The Primal Vision of Maurice Sendak

Reviewed by Melissa H. Pierson ×

In the books of the late Maurice Sendak, each haunting page represented a doorway into a world of imagination -- one that contained trauma and delight in equal measure....
Mary McCarthy, Natural Rebel

REDISCOVERY

Mary McCarthy, Natural Rebel

By Melissa H. Pierson ×

The genius of Mary McCarthy's fiction, writes Melissa H. Pierson, is that she let no one off the hook....
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

FICTION

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

Reviewed by Melissa H. Pierson ×

The new novel from the author of "The Good Thief" propels a father and daughter through a set of thrilling ordeals with mythic resonance. Review by Melissa H. Pierson.
Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness

SCIENCE

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness

Reviewed by Melissa H. Pierson ×

What is the self? Ask an octopus, suggest Peter Godfrey-Smith. Review by Melissa H. Pierson.
Emerson’s Heirs: Joyce Carol Oates and Mary Oliver

ESSAYS

Emerson’s Heirs: Joyce Carol Oates and Mary Oliver

Essay by Melissa H. Pierson ×

Melissa Holbrook Pierson reads two new books on the writing life from Joyce Carol Oates and Mary Oliver and finds two wildly different stylists who are both "latter-day Transcendentalists."
Nutshell

FICTION

Nutshell

Reviewed by Melissa H. Pierson ×

In Ian McEwan's new novel, an extremely young narrator delivers a tale with Shakespearian ambition. Review by Melissa Holbrooke Pierson.
Making and Unmaking the American Soldier

HUMAN NATURE

Making and Unmaking the American Soldier

By Melissa H. Pierson ×

There's a science to making the modern soldier. Do we need a science for turning them back into civilians? Melissa Holbrook Pierson reads new books from Mary Roach and Sebastian Junger.