“Each morning I would strike out for this temple of learning in the crisp autumn air . . . with a sense of purpose and the conviction that this was where I belonged.”—Marilyn Stasio from “My Research Project”
Inspired partly by Richard Altick’s The Scholar Adventurers,
the thirteen writers in Curiosity’s Cats
offer powerful arguments for the value of hands-on research, be it chasing documents, cracking mysteries, interviewing long-lost subjects, or visiting exotic and not-so-exotic locales.
Alberto Martinez explains how diligence with dates can provide clues to unlock the most difficult historical puzzles. Jan Reid explores the difference between research for an epic novel and research to write the epic biography of a friend. Margot Livesey suspects that she continues to write novels simply to do the research. But every essay testifies to the fact that research is valuable not only because of the product that may result from it, but because the process itself fulfills a basic human need.
Contributors include: Philip J. Anderson, Annette Kolodny, Theodore Kornweibel Jr., Margot Livesey, Alberto A. Martinez, Bruce Joshua Miller, Katherine Hall Page, Jan Reid, Ali Selim, Marilyn Stasio, Ned Stuckey-French, Bruce White, and Steve Yates.Bruce Joshua Miller
has edited two books and written for public radio, the Chicago Tribune,
and other publications. He has worked in the book industry for thirty-five years.
“Research has always seemed a bit like homework to me. Whatever the topic, I feel like a naughty schoolboy who’s cramming for an exam. What a relief to realize I am not alone. Through a variety of methods and circumstances, the writers in this fascinating collection demonstrate that research, like exploration, is challenging, maddening, frustrating, and exhausting. But like any great explorer (or naughty schoolboy), we know we cannot reach our goal without it, and the journey is often more rewarding than the destination.”
Alan Cumming, actor and author
“In our age of the Twitter and the Internet, it’s such a joy to see the art of the essay so alive and strong. Read this book and rediscover that real knowledge and connections still reside at the source: out in the field and inside the human condition.”
Dan Buettner, National Geographic Fellow and New York Times best-selling author of The Blue Zones
“No book has better portrayed the intimate, sometimes exasperating relationship between writer and research. It’s all here, and it’s never dull—the thrill of the chase, the unexpected discoveries, the crushing setbacks, the exhilarating ‘Aha!’ moments. There’s even a stray bookworm—yes, a real one—that literally wriggles off the page.”
Patricia T. O’Conner, author of Woe Is I and, with Stewart Kellerman, Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language
“If you have ever sensed a marvelous story or a startling emotion hidden within a historic document, photo, artifact, or place, you'll find many kindred spirits in this inspiring book. It made me want to drop everything to set out on a grand intellectual adventure in the nearest archive.”
Jack El-Hai, author of The Nazi and the Psychiatrist and Non-Stop: A Turbulent History of Northwest Airlines.