The Alexandria Papers Newsletter #99


Use mindfulness to improve well-being | Mayo Clinic Health Systems
Mindfulness is a growing trend. Learn how being fully present in the moment can be incorporated into your daily routine.
Mindfulness Matters: Can Living in the Moment Improve Your Health? | National Institutes of Health
Trying to enjoy each moment may actually be good for your health. Studies suggest that the ancient practice called mindfulness may help people manage stress, cope better with serious illness and reduce anxiety and depression.


Migraines: Steps to head off the pain | Mayo Clinic
Learn how these self-care strategies may lead to less frequent and less severe migraines.
How to Relieve Migraine Quickly (and Stop it From Worsening) | Healthline
Try these strategies that can help treat migraine pain early and prevent it from getting worse – or even help prevent migraine altogether.

Trauma and Sexual Abuse

Therapy for childhood trauma: Types and more | Medical News Today
Various types of therapy can help a child recover from and cope with a traumatic event. Learn more here.
Treatment and support for trauma |
If you’re looking for treatment, what you’re offered will depend on your symptoms and diagnosis (if you have one), and on your needs. It also depends on what services are available in your area.

Mental Health

How Are You Feeling? : Taking Care of Your Mental Health | CDC
The pandemic has taken a toll on many of us. Learn how you can cope.
8 Emotional Stress Symptoms: Warning Signs & Coping Tips | Better Up
Find out how to identify emotional stress symptoms and understand what causes them. Plus, learn how to apply eight healthy coping techniques.


Women Behaving Badly: A Reading List | Crime Reads
I’ve always liked my women a little bad. Give me the imperfect, the wrathful, the vindictive. In my opinion, those are the women who have the most fun.
Crime Novels for People Who (Think They) Don’t Like Crime Novels | Crime Reads
I don’t think of myself as a reader or writer of crime novels, and yet (knocking on my own skull to see if anyone’s inside) almost all of my novels do have a crime-or a strange disappearance or a person concealing their identity or a similar mystery.

Cooking and Baking

The 100 Greatest Home Cooks of All Time | Epicurious
They’re pianists, academics, novelists, and cookbook writers. A few of them are even movie stars. But these 100 food-obsessed Americans didn’t just cook incredible dinners for themselves-they changed the way we cook ours.
The 100 Best Cookbooks of All Time | Southern Living
Looking for cookbook recommendations? Peruse this list and discover new favorites. Whether you’re interested in baking, dinner ideas, cocktails, historical recipes, or all-purpose guides, there’s something on this list for everyone.

The Alexandria Papers Newsletter on Substack is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts by email and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber. I’m committed to having the entire archive free, but paid subscribers help cover the costs of research each week.

My Books

This is how the plan to kill your husband could begin. You come home early from work. You have a headache. A terrible headache. The worst headache of your life. You have this grant proposal to write. It’s not finished, and it was due yesterday. Your boss is gone for a week, so you bring the proposal home with you. After you open the door, you hear a noise.

“George?” you say.

Head throbbing, you wander into the living room. No one’s there, but you hear another noise. Upstairs. You find your husband in the hallway which leads to the bedroom. He’s naked, but he’s wearing his glasses. To see you better. He’s pale. He’s sweating.

“George,” you say, genuine concern in your voice, “what are you doing home in the middle of the day? Are you ill?”

He makes a movement, backward, toward the door. Too late. A young woman steps from the bedroom. She’s also naked, but she’s not wearing glasses. She doesn’t have to: she can see you perfectly well. You can see her, too. She is young. Lovely. Thin. George introduces her.

“This is Monica,” he says. “My assistant.”

This is Monica. That is just like George. Naked, wearing glasses, saying to his wife, “This is my girlfriend.” You say nothing. Your headache, however, suddenly gets worse. That is how the plan to kill your husband could begin.

Or perhaps it begins like this:

Naked, with Glasses (short stories)

Edgy, memorable, and engagingly written, these award-winning stories display another aspect of Szeman’s talent — that for short fiction. Filled with distinct voices, unique characters, surprising plot-twists, and successful experimental writing innovations (such as “Sorry, Wrong Number, Redux,” which is entirely in dialogue), this prize-winning collection secures the author’s critically acclaimed reputation in this genre as well, adding to the accolades she has already garnered for her novels, poetry, and non-fiction.


• Grand Prize
UKA [United Kingdom Authors] Press
International Creative Writing Competition
• “Naked, with Glasses,” 3rd Prize, Story Magazine “Seven Deadly Sins” Contest

The Kommandant’s Mistress, (a novel)

Part One: The Kommandant, Chapter One

“Then I saw her. There she stood, in the village store, her hair in a long braid down the center of her back, her skin white in the sunlight, and my hand went to my hip, seeking the weight of my gun. As the girl spoke, I stumbled back against one of the shelves, my fingers tightening at the leather around my waist. While the shopkeeper arranged the food in the bag, the morning sun glinted on the storefront windows, illuminating the girl. The wooden shelves pressed into my shoulders and back. Sweat dampened my forehead and ribs. Another shopper spoke, frowned, pushed aside my arm to reach a jar on the shelf behind me, but I didn’t move. My hand slid down over my hip and leg. No, I’d forgotten that I no longer wore my gun…”


The rumors spread by the Camp’s inmates, other Nazi officers, and the Kommandant’s own family insist that she was his “mistress,” but was she, voluntarily? Told from three different perspectives – that of the formerly idealistic Kommandant, the young Jewish inmate who captivates him, and the ostensibly objective historical biographies of the protagonists – this novel examines one troubling moral question over and over: if your staying alive was the only “good” during the War, if your survival was your sole purpose in this horrific world of the Concentration Camps — whether you were Nazi or Jewish — what, exactly, would you do to survive?  Would you lie, cheat, steal, kill, submit?

Flashing back and forth through the narrators’ memories as they recall their time before, during, and after the War, and leading, inevitably, to their ultimate, shocking confrontation, “Szeman’s uncompromising realism and superb use of stream-of-consciousness technique make [this novel] a chilling study of evil, erotic obsession, and the will to survive” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

New York Times Book Review “Notable Book” and one of its “Top 100 Books of the Year,”  Winner of the University of Rochester’s Kafka Prize for “the outstanding book of prose fiction by an American woman,” the tales told by the Kommandant, his “mistress,” and their “biographer” will mesmerize and stun you, leaving you wondering, at the conclusion, which, if any, is telling the complete truth about what happened between them.


• New York Times Book Review “Notable Book”
and “Top 100 Books of Year”
• University of Rochester Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize
“the outstanding book of prose fiction by an American woman”
• Publishers Weekly (* review) “Outstanding Merit”
• Talmadge McKinney Award “Excellence in Research”

(originally published by HarperCollins / HarperPerennial NY)

My Other Books

created in Publicate



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