The memoir of Leon Fleisher, the brilliant pianist who at the height of his career lost the use of his right hand; who reinvented himself as a teacher and conductor; and who, after thirty years, got his hand back. Leon and I wrote this book just after I arrived at the Washington Post; conveniently, he lives in Baltimore, just down the road.
This book fell into my lap when I was fairly new at the New York Times, and I was worried I would ruin my reputation working with Luciano Pavarotti's infamous manager. Instead, Herbert Breslin became a dear friend, and we had a lot of fun working on this book, which I still think is a hoot to read for opera-lovers.
Classical music writers don't always get a chance to play in this arena, so I was very flattered when my piece on big voices in opera got picked up for inclusion in this engaging compendium, edited that year by the novelist Mary Gaitskill, with Daphne Carr. See "Selected Articles" for a link to the piece itself.
For several years, my main source of income was translating and writing travel guidebooks. I oversaw translations of more than 25 of them, and wrote a few myself, often based on incorrect presumptions of knowledge, which is how I found myself driving through Michigan because I "knew" the USA; writing about Scotland because I was at home in the north of England; or spending ten weeks traveling through the Greek Islands because I had studied ancient Greek in college. Someone once said to me, in astonishment, that I was unlike other travel guidebook writers of her acquaintance because I actually went to the places I was writing about.