When Cecily Von Ziegesar '92 was a teenager at Nightingale-Bamford, a private school on Manhattan's Upper East Side, she wasn't into the party scene.
Photo by Mary Schwalm '99
Name Reactions and Reagents in Organic Synthesis, Second Edition
Bradford P. Mundy (chemistry, emeritus), Ellerd, and Frank G. Favaloro Jr. "96
This compendium of organic chemistry name reactions and reagents ushers the 1988 first edition into the contemporary laboratory, says the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. The new edition offers references to current literature and provides an update of the application of reagents for organic synthesis—a meaningful contribution to the field.
The Casco Bay Tummlers, including Carl Dimow (music)
This popular Maine-based ensemble, including Dimow and Colby visiting artist Julie Goell, takes klezmer music into the 21st century, picking up Greek, Celtic, and Latino influences along the way. The selections range from new interpretations of traditional tunes to a piece written by Dimow as he listened to the news of U.S. troops marching into Baghdad. The journey lasts a little more than an hour but spans centuries. Available at www.cascobaytummlers.com.
Annie Proulx "57
This unexpected love story explores the relationship between Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist, two ranch-hands caught up in a relationship they can neither fully understand nor relinquish. Originally part of the 1999 short story collection Close Range, Brokeback Mountain was recently released as a film directed by Ang Lee, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, with a screenplay by Larry McMurtry.
The Birth of the Khalsa: A Feminist Re-Memory of Sikh Identity
Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh (religious studies)
State University of New York Press (2005)
A feminist critique of the creation of the Khalsa in 1699, the pivotal event in Sikh history. Singh examines the texts and tenets of Sikh religion and reveals the feminine aspects of rituals and tradition—and their implications for the Sikh community today. She drew inspiration from her father, eminent Sikh scholar Harbans Singh, to whom she dedicated this work.
Fame Without Fortune
Jordan Messan Benissan (music)
African drummer Benissan"s fourth CD includes the title track, a jazz piece inspired by an exchange with a fan. Benissan, a native West African who now teaches drumming at Colby, has gained a following in world-music circles. More at www.jordanbenissan.com.
Hanna M. Roisman (classics)
This companion edition gives context and illumination to Sophocles"s timeless play about Philoctetes and Odysseus, who abandoned his comrade on a deserted island. Now Odysseus must convince Philoctetes to join him in the war against Troy. This introduction, for students and lay readers, offers background on the issues that the play explores, making the work accessible to modern readers.
%book%left%Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery
Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jenifer Frank
Ballantine Books (2005)
The authors, all staffers at The Hartford Courant, turn their investigative spotlight on a remarkably well-kept secret: that the merchants of New England were heavily involved in, and profited handsomely from, the slave trade. Of particular note in this revealing examination is a subchapter on Colby alumnus Elijah Parish Lovejoy, Class of 1826, the abolitionist newspaperman who died at the hands of a pro-slavery mob in Illinois. Lovejoy, who is remembered via Colby"s annual journalism award, is recalled for his protest of the horrific burning of a black man by a mob in 1836. No one was prosecuted for either murder, but the black man who dug Lovejoy"s grave refused to be paid for his work, the book reports.
Alex Lear "01
Guitarist/composer Lear weighs in with a CD of original music, including "Mayflower Hill— ("We were all Waking the Neighbors then/And painting our lives on the rising sun/Serenading the campus from a worn out window sill—). Alumni who remember the serenades will be glad to hear that Lear plays on.
Willard Wyman "56
University of Oklahoma Press (2005)
Willard Wyman's novel High Country is a compelling journey through the trueAmerican West.
As it turns out, this distance served her well. It is, in part, her working knowledge of the nasty-nice world of teens that has made Von Ziegesar, 35, a big success. "I had close friends who were incredibly wealthy and got to be part of their world," she said. "We were well off, but not"well, let's put it this way. One of my friends would fly on the Concorde to Paris to get fitted by Yves Saint Laurent."
Von Ziegesar is the creator and writer of the Gossip Girl novels, a hugely popular series of books that has attracted a near-cult following amongst its loyal readers, namely teenage girls. Her books have sold over two million copies, according to her publishers, mainly through word of mouth, with two recent titles making their debut atop the New York Times children's bestseller list.
With titles like All I Want is Everything, You Know You Love Me, and Because I'm Worth It, the series depicts the not-always-glam life of privileged teenagers"think Sex and the City for the junior set. "These books are all about living vicariously," said Danica Lo, a New York Post reporter who writes about fashion and trends.
"They're for the aspiring queen bee in all of us. These are like the teenage years you wish you had"for those of us who barely made it out of our teenage years alive."
"Welcome to New York's Upper East Side," begins the first book's first entry. "Where my friends and I live and go to work and play and sleep, sometimes with each other. We all live in huge apartments with our own bedrooms and bathrooms and phone lines. We have unlimited access to money and booze and whatever else we want, and our parents are rarely home, so we have tons of privacy. We're smart, we've inherited classic good looks, we wear fantastic clothes, and we know how to party."
Even though most of the characters are wealthy and not exactly your average everyday teen, they deal with the same problems teens deal with nationwide. One character is grappling with bulimia, while another just can't seem to kick his pot habit. But part of what sets the series apart from other young-adult novels is the tone; there's no moralizing or preaching. For all the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, the characters all turn out okay in the end.
"It's completely unrealistic to have a group of kids who are constantly reforming or who are being punished because they're 'naughty,'" Von Ziegesar said. "And I always resented that quality in books I'd read. I was terrified that the grown-up world would be horrified by my books, but all the parents hug me because their girls are reading. I don't know what it is that redeems the characters, exactly, but deep down, they're still good kids. They're not selling drugs to their little sisters."
Von Ziegesar came up with the idea for the series five years ago, when she was working as an editor at a book production company called Alloy Entertainment. At Alloy, she said, editors were responsible for generating concepts for books, writing out the proposals, and pitching them to publishers. She wrote the proposal for what would become the Gossip Girl series, and the people at Little, Brown liked the way the proposal was written"so much that they asked her to write the books herself.
With the October publication of the eighth book in the series, Nothing Can Keep Us Together, Von Ziegesar is hanging up the Gossip Girl reins and heading in a new direction in her writing career. From now on, the byline on the continuing series will read, "Created by Cecily Von Ziegesar."
With two children under five, Von Ziegesar gets her writing done when she can, "They're out of the house from ten until three, so I write furiously during that time," she said.
She had considered writing about motherhood for her first non-Gossip Girl book, but she quickly dismissed
this idea, deciding she was too new to the maternity scene to write convincingly about it. "I think I'll be funnier about early motherhood five or ten years from now," she said.
Instead she's elected to focus her narrative on college.
Which means her book could feature one strangely familiar New England liberal arts college with a blue light inthe library tower. "I might visit Colby to refresh my memory," she said. "I don't think I could write about a college that isn't similar. I mean, that was my experience. I couldn't write about Columbia."