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…

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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.

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.

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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Book Reading to Support KGB Bar’s famous lit series

Online January 17, 2021 at 7pm

“On Sunday, January 17 at 7 pm, play pretend “let’s meet at KGB” to raise a little money to keep KGB going. Click below to register, throw $10 to one of the greatest, long-running literary venues in the city that gives a stage to writers just starting out and often to my writer heroes. Get your cocktail or mocktail ready and join three of the most fascinating writers I know: Ada Calhoun, Laurie Gwen Shapiro and Darcey Steinke on zoom for some brief readings on Beginnings in Real Life, then conversation and your questions. Ada will be reading from her recent beloved bestseller, Darcey from the book Maggie Nelson called an “instant classic,” Laurie is going to give us a glimpse of her upcoming, highly anticipated nonfiction book about Amelia Earhart and I’m going to read a bit about the scary days leading to an inauguration…in 1861. Please join us! Talk, joke around and imagine we are in that glorious space up the staircase at KGB.” – Biz Mitchell

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My Interview on WFUV’s Cityscape

I did a 30-minute radio interview on WFUV Public Radio – (WFUV’S CITYSCAPE) – hope you’ll listen on a coffee break. 📻 I was joined by Kevin Fitzpatrick of The Dorothy Parker Society. (And host George Bodarky) It was so fun to tell this tangled tale together.

More than 53 years after her death, Dorothy Parker’s ashes were interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.

It’s a tale only our guests on this week’s Cityscape could tell well. Kevin C. Fitzpatrick is the head of the Dorothy Parker Society. He’s also a professional tour guide and author. He along with The New Yorker Writer, Laurie Gwen Shapiro, brought Parker’s cremains to the Bronx from Baltimore, where they had been interred at NAACP headquarters. It’s quite the story!

Hear the interview on

I’m excited to share my story for The New Yorker on how I helped bring Dorothy Parker back to NYC.

The Improbable Journey of Dorothy Parker’s Ashes

Dorothy ParkerOn February 6, 1965, Dorothy Parker signed her last will and testament in her small suite at the Volney Hotel, on East Seventy-fourth Street, in Manhattan. A friend named Pauline Kraft signed as a witness, as did an employee at the Volney named Richard M. Moyer. Parker’s French poodle, Troy—short for Troisième, because she was the third of her litter—was by her side. Her second husband, the writer and actor Alan Campbell, had died two years earlier, of an overdose of alcohol and barbiturates. Parker was seventy-one, small and thin with big dark eyes, and suffered from a weak heart, bursitis, and reduced eyesight. Widowed, with no heirs, she had spent months mulling what to do with her estate. After her debts were paid, her assets amounted to some twenty thousand dollars, but her estate also included future royalties and licensing fees for her body of literary work, which was substantial.

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Big News: Viking Welcomes Shapiro’s ‘Amelia’

From Publishers Weekly, Oct 11, 2019

Viking Welcomes Shapiro’s ‘Amelia’

After a five-house auction, Emily Wunderlich at Viking won a narrative nonfiction book titled Amelia and George for a rumored mid-six-figure sum. The author, Laurie Gwen Shapiro, was represented in the North American rights deal by Peter Steinberg at Foundry Literary + Media. The title documents the decade-long relationship between Amelia Earhart and George Palmer Putnam (a publishing magnate) and focuses not on the whereabouts of her plane but on why she died. As Steinberg explained, the book shows that her death was caused, in part, by “her clandestine lover turned husband’s disregard of danger in the face of maintaining financial success during the Great Depression.” Steinberg added that he feels the book will “change history’s view on Amelia Earhart’s life and death.” Shapiro is a documentary filmmaker.

That Day I Went Time Capsule Hunting in City College

As a lifelong Lower East Sider, there are swaths of northern Manhattan that were once undiscovered to me, like the 35-acre City College of New York campus in Hamilton Heights. I had read that the college’s Gothic revival buildings were filled with gargoyles and grotesques that evoke a “Noo Yawk” version of Oxbridge, where even Harry Potter might feel at home. It was long on my New York bucket list.

Recently, Untapped Cities was offered a glimpse into many of the secrets of the Hamilton Heights campus, including forgotten tunnels and bell towers. On a simmering weekday evening in July when students were out of session, we were greeted by the 138th Street and Amsterdam Avenue gate by 25-year-old Dalton Whiteside, a cheery City College alum and enthusiast, in a straw hat and snappy outfit that suggested he was a time traveler from another century.

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