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Free at last, the West Memphis Three's Damien Echols is trying to start over... in Salem, Massachusetts

Life after death row
A year after his release from prison, Echols has chosen to settle in Salem for a reason: he feels a kinship with the history of the place. He knows what it's like to be the object of a witch hunt.
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  December 14, 2012


With his new restaurant almost ready, chef Will Gilson mulls heritage, humility, and his year in culinary purgatory

The Puritan Ethic
The door to the kitchen is open, and inside, Will Gilson is getting ready.
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  October 12, 2012

carpentry 5

On carpentry and college

Finding reward - and real learning - in the ivory tower
Age 30, I quit the Phoenix and ended up with a job as an apprentice to a carpenter. Sawing, chiseling, hammering, nail-gunning, tiling, sanding, slotting, framing, hauling, measuring, and sweeping are less obvious outcomes of an undergraduate career in the liberal arts. College, in strange and unexpected ways, prepared me for this sort of work. And in others, did not prepare me at all.
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  October 20, 2011



Worried about writing that thesis? Turns out writing could be the least of your problems.
I knew a man pursuing a PhD in literature. His dissertation had to do with humor as a form of dissent in 20th-century literature. And how enthused he was at first! How passionate and excited.
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  April 27, 2011

PK list2

David Foster Wallace's The Pale King

Final words
All I can do is tell you how I read the book.
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  April 13, 2011


The house that House of Sand and Fog built

Son of a famous-author father, novelist Andre Dubus III had to write his own way out of a violent youth
Andre Dubus III collected me at the Newburyport train station last month when the snow piles were already high. We stopped first for a coffee for the road; he asked all the questions: siblings, hometown, are you married?
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  February 25, 2011


Don't be an idiot

What we wish someone had told us about making the best of the college experience
We're all idiots when we're 18. We're all idiots for the first half of our 20s, and longer, for some. By saying so, we're not trying to insult anyone.
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  January 27, 2011


Unlocking knowledge

From OpenCourseWare to co-ops, area schools are taking their learning outside the classroom
Back in 2000, when Google was two years old and the all-for-naught panic over a worldwide Y2K meltdown had subsided, the MIT faculty had to answer two questions: how is the Internet going to change education? And what are we going to do about it?
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  January 12, 2011


Holiday survival guide

Stress is just another present we open this time of year
It used to be so easy. It used to be all egg nog and hanging your favorite ornaments, sugar cookies and Yule logs, candle-lighting and leaving carrots for Santa's reindeer fleet.
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  December 08, 2010


Getting Your Hands Dirty

A few basic skills could help you survive the apocalypse — and reconnect to the real world
It's easy to get apocalyptic. Worst case scenarios can be conjured in a few broad strokes — oil crisis, poisoned reservoir, terrorists murder the Internet.
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  October 13, 2010


Sleep when you're dead: A guide to late-night Boston

Think Boston shuts down at midnight?
Here's how to stuff your face, roll gutter balls, binge on cult cinema, and dance your ass off all the way to sunup.
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  September 02, 2010


Informal ed

When you swap memorizing for learning, sparks fly and tuna rolls
In college, there was Aeschylus. There was the Battle of Gettysburg, chiaroscuro, the second law of thermodynamics.
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  August 04, 2010


Escape from Soccer City

Outside the World Cup, seeing South Africa in black and white
The FIFA complex here is a swishy maze of a mall, all upscale shops and unrelenting fluorescent lights, attaching the hotels to each other before spilling out into Nelson Mandela Square, which is right now dominated by a Sony tent — a 3D World Cup viewing pavilion — and circled by tourist restaurants.
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  July 15, 2010


Ghana baby Ghana

A Letter from South Africa
Florida Road is a crowded strip of bars and clubs in Durban, a city on the eastern coast of South Africa.
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  June 30, 2010


Grave Spotting

Spooky? A bit, but Massachusetts's cemeteries are also the bucolic, final resting places of many great American writers.
I asked the question this way: "Where would you want to be buried?" Not "do," but "would." That is to say if, by chance, you were to die, unlikely as that might be, where would you want to spend all of nonexistence?
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  June 16, 2010


Bang Ganger

The explosive lives of pyrotechnical professionals
Fireworks in summer — gazing to a blazing sky, mouth wide, sparkle-eyed, the "ahh"s and "oh man"s passing your lips unbidden.
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  June 16, 2010


Review: On the road with David Foster Wallace

David Lipsky’s Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself  treads lightly in the footsteps of a literary giant
David Foster Wallace had a crush on Alanis Morissette. He drank Diet Rite soda by the case. David Lynch changed him.
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  May 17, 2010


Harvard virginity conference pops its cherry

Roe v. Wait Dept.
At what moment are you no longer a virgin? When you get a blowjob? Give one? Give 30 ? When someone fingers you? Oral sex? Anal sex? Enjoyment? Orgasm?
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  May 07, 2010


Words around town

Our fair city is chock full of people who write well and are willing to teach you their trade.
“Every writer I know has trouble writing,” said Joseph Heller. Let that serve as comfort.
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  April 30, 2010


Walkin' and talkin'

Unguided Zen-like tours through NYC
It counts as some small death, the blinders-on result of routine, when instead of noticing how the light hits the river or the man in front of the noodle shop crouches as if he'd got no bones, your thoughts pinball from your sandwich to an e-mail you want to write to a ticking of your to-do list.
By: NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  March 09, 2010
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