Miss Pym Disposes
By Josephine Tey
Selected by Kristin Henley, Managing Director
You can find Miss Pym in our library
I’d heard of the crime writer Josephine Tey, but other than loving the sound of her name, I knew basically nothing about her, so I decided to pick up one of her stand-alone novels, Miss Pym Disposes. The novel takes place at the Leys Physical Training College in England (where else??), where a bunch of young women do gymnastics and take tests about anatomy, physiology, and whatever else young, athletic women studied back then. Into the students’ lives comes Miss Lucy Pym, the latest pop psychology bestseller who visits the College at the invitation of her old school chum, the headmistress, Henrietta. The crime of this crime novel doesn’t take place until the book is almost done, but the reader has gotten a quaint yet pointed snapshot of this microcosm, along with delightful sentences like, “She concealed the existence of the pork pie, which she privately considered a barbarism.” I admit that I’m a sucker for a) books about boarding schools and b) English books written in a sort of forthright and proper tone that are actually scathing exposes of society a la The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. If you’re that sort of sucker too, read Miss Pym Disposes (disposes what? I’m waiting to find out.).
Noreen Tomassi, interviewed by Tracy Young
The Center’s Executive Director talks about our popular bibliotherapy program: Based on a 45-minute personal conversation about your reading tastes, your lifestyle, and the issues you’re facing, you'll get a list of a dozen hand-picked novels to offer insight, solace, and inspiration
When did you start to think, wow, bibliotherapy could work for people?
In October 2012, a board member suggested we try this, and I began to talk to people about the idea. So many people reacted enthusiastically that I thought it was worth a try and might be especially good to roll out in advance of the holidays with the option of giving it as a gift.
Were you surprised that it caught on so quickly?
Not really. I think people who read a great deal believe that books can have a real impact ...READ MORE
To order a session, click here.
The Best International Journals
We've culled 16 of the best English- language journals from around the world—from Canada to England and Ireland, from Australia and Tasmania to the Middle East, from Spain to Sweden, and more—with stories for you to sample.
"At the heart of each of Xhenet Aliu's eleven stories in Domesticated Wild Things is a powerful sense—a smell, a taste, a sound—that isn't always positive. The stories in this debut collection center around the ugliness that can penetrate all, surrounded by the biting humor and absurdity that makes life bearable. Aliu herself is a native of Waterbury, Connecticut, an area whose brass industry attracted large waves of Eastern European immigrants, her parents being two..." READ MORE
Stephen King on his first brush with horror
I guess the book that really made me a reader was The 500 Hats Of Bartholomew Cubbins, by Doctor Seuss. It was my first encounter with a horror story, because poor Bartholomew was going to get his head chopped off if he couldn't take off his hat for the king. Every time he doffed one, there was another beneath. Of course I didn't understand the existential nature of his dilemma...READ MORE
Quote of the Week
“The book was in her lap; she had read no further. The power to change one’s life comes from a paragraph, a lone remark. The lines that penetrate us are slender, like the flukes that live in river water and enter the bodies of swimmers. She...
On December 12, at 12:15 p.m., our Executive Director, Noreen Tomassi, will be leading The Literarians' group discussion of Jonathan Lethem's novel, Dissident Gardens. The Literarians is a free discussion group open to members of The Center. If you are not a regular member of the group but would like to attend this meeting, please call us at 212-755-6710 and RSVP (limited space available).
Roxana Robinson on the Nobel Laureate
I think I started reading Alice Munro in the early 1980s. I think the first book was The Lives of Girls and Women. It was an odd title, but I was drawn to it, because, if you’re a woman, that title reminds you that your own experience is different from others—by others I mean men, whose experience dominates the literary world—and suggests that your experience merits its own book... READ MORE