Marion Winik

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University of Baltimore Professor Marion Winik writes Bohemian Rhapsody on the first Wednesday of the month. She is the author of "First Comes Love," and, forthcoming in fall 2018, "The Baltimore Book of the Dead." She is the host of The Weekly Reader on WYPR. Sign up for her monthly email at marionwinik.com.

A Cat Named Bruce

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“Bruce The Cat Is AWOL: We haven’t seen our cat Bruce (gray and white with a big belly) since yesterday. If anyone spots him, please let me know.” -Evergreen Community listserv

The email list in our neighborhood is an active one, what with people getting rid of furniture and gadgets, looking for plumbers and electricians, and calling for crews to pick up litter at Stony Run, the creek that runs along the edge of our three-block enclave. This posting about Bruce the Cat, complete with framed oil portrait, appeared one day in late February and turned out to be the first in a rather riveting series. But before we follow the drama of Bruce’s recent disappearance, let us begin with his origin story.

Q&A with Baltimore cartoonist turned literati, Tim Kreider

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In Baltimore, Tim Kreider is known primarily for two things: his comic strip in the City Paper, The Pain: When Will It End?, which ran for fifteen years, and an essay called “My Own Private Baltimore” that he published in The New York Times. For the former, he is beloved. For the latter, the reaction was more complicated. (Sample sentence: “Ernest Hemingway famously described Paris as a moveable feast; Baltimore is more like a permanent hangover. Once you have lived there, you will never be entirely sober again.”)

Q&A with Baltimore novelist Laura Lippman about her latest book, ‘Sunburn’

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Laura Lippman wanders downy shore.

If you love Laura Lippman, as so many Baltimore readers do, she’s kept you busy in the seventeen years since she left her job as a reporter at “the Sunpaper” and devoted herself full-time to fiction. Her series featuring detective Tess Monaghan debuted in 1997 with “Baltimore Blues.” “Hush, Hush,” the twelfth in the series, came out in 2015. Her latest book, “Sunburn,” is the tenth of her off-series novels; many of these have hit the New York Times bestseller list in a big way. Just released this week, “Sunburn” may be heading there to join them; starred pre-pub reviews are now joined by raves all in the daily papers and on websites.

Scrabble, and Other Secret Languages

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Because am I knee-deep in writing The Baltimore Book of the Dead, we’re reposting a column from the very early days of Bohemian Rhapsody — the third, in fact. The Baltimore Fishbowl was just a month old. My ex and I were having a little post-divorce relapse, as we learn at the end of the piece. That does seem like a long time ago. Since I wrote this, four new two-letter words have been added to the “secret language” of Scrabble: DA GI PO TE, appended to the official word list in 2014. I can only imagine what my mother would have to say about it. These days, it’s her namesake, my seventeen-year-old daughter Jane, who is kicking my butt. There’s no one I’d rather lose to.

Originally published June 22, 2011 – I was brought into the fold of Scrabble players in the mid-90s by a food writer boyfriend who kindly scooped me up and resuscitated me after my first husband died of AIDS. In addition to viciously competitive Scrabble playing, the food writer’s recovery program for dazed widows included extravagant piggery both at home and in restaurants, gin martinis, Camels, wave-tossed waterbed sex and the occasional brisk morning walk.

Q&A with Baltimore Writer Timmy Reed, Author of ‘Kill Me Now’

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Kill Me Now, by local author Timmy Reed, is the journal of a skateboarder named Miles Lover kept over the summer between 8th grade and high school. Miles has divorced parents who live on opposite ends of Roland Park, younger twin sisters, and no friends —  though he does see a fair bit of his pot dealer, whom he calls the Beaster Bunny. Midway through the summer, he develops a relationship with an old guy from the neighborhood named Mister Reese, along with his health aide, Diamontay, and their giant boa constrictor, Tickles.

Just Like Star Wars, I Got a Sequel

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Good news: A couple of days before Christmas I received word that Counterpoint, the press that published The Glen Rock Book of the Dead in 2008, will bring out a companion volume in the late fall of 2018. Like its predecessor, The Baltimore Book of the Dead is named for the place where it is being composed and will contain about 60 brief portraits of people who have died, all who have crossed my path in one way or another. (While it will contain some allusions to the terrible violence we have suffered in the city in recent years, it will not be the focus of the book.) I could not be happier about this much-wished-for turn of events and have spent the past two and a half months traveling in the world of the departed. Now I will spend several more.

Hook, Line, and Sinker: How the Phishermen Reeled Me In

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I’ve been reluctant to tell the story below: it’s too embarrassing, even for a blurter like me. However, I just read that one of the secondary dangers of being scammed is that the victim feels so much shame about falling for the con that they are unwilling to talk about it, leading to depression and PTSD. So spill I shall.

Baltimore Writers Club #9: More UB Alums with Books, plus Events This Weekend!

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Last month, we looked at new and forthcoming books from four alums of the University of Baltimore MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts. This month, we’re sampling work from two alumni-founded publishing houses, Mason Jar Press and Ink Press.

Too Young, Too Soon: Remembering E-Dubble

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E-dub and Vince at work.

As part of our Throwback Thursday series, we republish Marion Winik’s essay in memoriam of E-Dubble, the local rapper who died last February. His new video was released this week. 

View the video, below.

How to Celebrate the Day of the Dead

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It seems to have become a tradition to re-post this 2013 column on November 1. At my house, Day of the Dead season opened a couple of weeks ago when I started a new book project: a sequel to The Glen Rock Book of the Dead. It will be called The Baltimore Book of the Dead, again named after the place it was written, again containing very short lyric essays, each a portrait of someone who has died. The first one is my mother, The Golfer, who left us right after I finished the first book, and I’ve got a handful of others already. I can picture the two little books standing next to each other, so maybe it will actually happen and you will read it someday. If I continue to be swept up in the writing, you might be reading essays from the archive for a couple of months, but I’ve been digging around and there are some very ancient ones that I bet most BFB readers have never seen. Happy Day of the Dead, shots of tequila all around. 

Drape a small table with a cloth in the favorite color of the person you loved who has died. Adorn it with candles, flowers (marigolds are traditional) and framed photographs. Set out some favorite foods: a slice of pie, a bottle of beer, a Milky Way. Add the instruments of their hobbies and vices: a pack of Newports, a deck of cards, a banjo. A People magazine, a racquet, a Terrible Towel. A copy of Peter Pan, of The Joy of Cooking, of the Bible.

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