My Upcoming Piece for Columbia Magazine

Portrait of Billy Gawronski

“The Tale of the Stowaway who Traded Antarctic Adventures for a Columbia Classroom”

Funny backstory! I wrote it three years ago, got paid, and I forgot about it. I was promised it would run eventually but it wasn’t getting canceled.

Well they finally found the right place for it on the back page which will now have a series of quirky stories. This short piece is launching that series.  Enjoy the read!

Read the article on Columbia.edu

Talking Dorothy Parker with Malachy McCourt and John McDonagh of Radio Free Eireann.

I recently appeared on WBAI 99.5 FM New York to talk about Dorothy Parker with Malachy McCourt and John McDonagh.

The interview starts around 19:30 mark – and goes a good while (40 minutes) so grab a cup of coffee. I love hearing Malachy talk and he knew Dorothy! Time goes quickly when Malachy tells stories!

We also talk about Frank, and Malalchy’s own Algonquinish group of wits, The First Fridays club (Frank and Pete Hamill were in that too), and Malalachy’s gold smuggling days in India. Etc…!

Listen to the interview here

I’m so thrilled and honored to be the first recipient of a new popular history award for longform history articles called the Damn History Article Award

I got this announcement today from popular historian Jack El-Hai who has a fascinating site, el-hai.com, that focuses on popular history and often links to interesting articles.

Announcing the Winner of the 2021 Damn History Article Award

Last year, I grew frustrated by the scarcity of recognition for writers creatively telling nonfiction history stories for non-academic and non-scholarly readers. So I started the Damn History Article Award to honor an engagingly conceived, thoroughly researched, and superbly written popular-history article published during the previous year. Between March and May 2021, a competitive group of submissions poured in, and a judging team made up of Tim Brady, Anika Fajardo, and Pamela Toler went through them. The judges deliberated and decided on a winner and two recipients of honorable mentions.

The winner of the 2021 Damn History Article Award: “The Improbable Journey of Dorothy Parker’s Ashes” by Laurie Gwen Shapiro, published in The New Yorker, September 4, 2020.

The judges’ comments: “Laurie Gwen Shapiro takes a curious lead and develops it into a rich story with an unexpectedly poignant conclusion. It was like reading one of those long footnotes that becomes more interesting than the book itself.”

Congratulations to Laurie, who receives a $250 gift card from bookshop.org and a genuine certificate of excellence from Damn History.

My latest on Untapped Cities: Secret Pop-up Gourmet Restaurant in Brooklyn

I’m here to talk about Armenia in Bed-Stuy, by way of a guy who once chatted up Prince in Minneapolis.

Which is, of course, so New York.

Two Saturdays ago, I was hot and thirsty and hungry in Brooklyn. I was there to look at pretty historic architecture on Hancock Street, and the architecture was nice, but it’s hard to concentrate on Romanesque Revival when you’re dying for a mushroom calzone…

Read the full story at Untapped Cities

I’ll be moderating a panel discussion on Agatha Christie at the BIO Conference

May 15, 2021 at 11:30am

One Subject, Three Ways: Agatha Christie

What can biographers who work in different media learn from one another—and teach the rest of us? Join a documentary filmmaker, a print biographer, and a graphic biographer as they explore how they addressed the same fascinating subject, the “Queen of Crime,” Agatha Christie.

Moderator
Laurie Gwen Shapiro’s writing has appeared in The New YorkerNew YorkThe Daily BeastLapham’s Quarterly, and SlateThe Stowaway: A Young Man’s Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica was her best-selling first full-length work of nonfiction, and was an Indie next selection in 2018. She has also won an Independent Spirit Award as a documentary director. Her 2020 New Yorker article on sneaking Dorothy Parker back to New York City was recently nominated for best NYC essay or article by GANYC’s Apple Awards. Shapiro’s next nonfiction book will be Amelia and George, about Amelia Earhart’s decade-long marriage.

Panelists
Laura Thompson is the award-winning author of Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life, which was nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe award in 2019 and is the first Christie biography to have been written with access to all her letters and papers. Thompson is also the author of the 2016 New York Times best seller The Six, a group biography of the Mitford sisters, and of the true-crime A Tale of Two Murders. Her memoir of her grandmother, The Last Landlady, a three-time book of the year in the U.K., was released in the U.S. in 2020.

Matt Cottingham has 20 years of experience making documentaries for prime-time British television. From traveling the globe to meet the world’s most advanced robots to filming polar bears in the Arctic, Cottingham has directed dozens of history, science, and arts programs for the BBC, ITV, Channel 5, and international broadcasters. Cottingham began his career working on the BBC’s flagship current-affairs program Panorama, interviewing members of Al Qaeda. His passion to understand what makes humans tick continues with his most recent documentary, Inside the Mind of Agatha Christie.

Editor at French crime publisher Éditions du Masque for more than 10 years, Anne Martinetti is a specialist in the worlds of Anglophone cinema and literature. A contributor to the definitive edition of Agatha Christie’s works, she wrote a worldwide best-selling cookbook based on Christie’s novels, entitled Creams and Punishments, as well as a documentary about Christie’s adaptations in movies, The Inheritance Crime, for Canal+. She is co-author of the graphic biography Agatha: The Real Life of Agatha Christie. Martinetti is also the author of a literary guide to London and more than a dozen other works—novels, cookbooks, and essays.

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