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bill bryson
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  Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951, but went to England as a young man and stayed for nearly 20 years. After working for two years in a psychiatric hospital, he went into journalism, eventually becoming chief copy editor of the business section of the Times and then deputy national news editor of the business section of the Independent. In 1987, he quit newspapers to become a full-time writer.

His books include travel memoirs (Neither Here Nor There, 1993; The Lost Continent, 1990) and two books on language, Made in America (1995) and Mother Tongue (1990), a bestseller in the United States and a Main Choice of the Book of the Month Club. His books have been translated into about a dozen languages, and all have been bestsellers in Britain, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and Canada. His most recent book, an affectionate farewell to England, Notes from a Small Island (1996), was a runaway bestseller across the Atlantic. As of October 1997, it had spent 57 weeks on the Sunday Times (UK) paperback nonfiction bestseller list, most of the time at number one, making it one of the bestselling travel books ever published in the United Kingdom.

Asked about why he wrote A Walk in the Woods, Bryson explains: "I lived overseas for 20 years, in England, and so this was my way of getting back in touch with the country I grew up in. It's a book, in short, about rediscovering America by going out into an America that most people scarcely know is there. It was a wonderful experience, the most important of my life, and I hope readers will find that that comes across in the book."

Bryson contributes regularly to National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler, and writes a weekly column on American affairs for the London Mail on Sunday newspaper. He has also written for Esquire, GQ, Granta, Outside, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, Bon Appetit, Sports Illustrated, the New York Times Magazine, and many other publications throughout the English-speaking world.

He now lives in Hanover, New Hampshire, with his wife and four children. He is a good father and a nice guy.
 
 
jonathan lethem
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  Jonathan Lethem was born in New York City in 1964, and spent his childhood in Kansas City and Brooklyn. He studied painting at the High School of Music and Art in New York, and was briefly a student at Bennington College in Vermont, but left without a degree.

His is the author of the novels Gun, with Occasional Music, Amnesia Moon, As She Climbed Across the Table, and most recently, Girl in Landscape. He has also published a collection of stories titled The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye.

He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.
 
 
lisa carey
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  Lisa Carey grew up in Brookline, MA, and received her BA in English from Boston College, and her MFA in writing from Vermont College. Though she tends to avoid any type of permanent employment, she worked at the independent bookstore, Brookline Booksmith (Publisher Weekly's bookstore of the year), spending most of her paycheck on novels. The Mermaids Singing, her first book, was written on a remote island off the west coast of Ireland.

She lives alternately in New England and Ireland, and spends more time reading than she does writing or sleeping.
 
 
dalia pagani
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  "There's no such thing as a short bio though one can pilot oneself back to one's origins and say I was born, schooled, and was left alone long enough to become peculiar. That should suffice. But here are details: I was never a couch potato, I never look out airplane windows, I know how to make friends fast because I know I may never see them again, and I am a bit trembly when it comes to saying grace, and touching hands. I take great pleasure in swimming, in anything that has the substance of water. I take zen-like care in carrying a pitcher of well-drawn water into the house, and I am fond of the dangerous unmarked curves on country roads. The other day my 7-year old son asked me what I meant by jubilation. He'd been watching me lay a fire and after setting a piece of wood down just right I had said, Oh Joy, Oh Jubilation. Jubilation, I said, look it up in Websters. When he didn't, when he sat and stared at me, I too sat and then poked the fire and waited for the fine blue flame to spark, and when it did, I said, That is jubilation. Reason for joy. It's just a fire mom, he said. Yeah mom, echoed my 11-year old daughter, what's the big deal? That little piece of wood is pouring its little heart out to give us heat, I said, and we all stared at the irregular shapes of wood burning, waiting for the little blue flame, waiting as if for some enormous and miraculous revelation.

"For years I have lived either at sea, on boats, or in rickety old farmhouses with goat barns and well water and wood as our only source of heat. Log by log, we carry it in, stack it, burn it. The daily chore is eight months long, it is a tiresome and weary task, staying warm, staying alive, but it has its compensation. A short bio then must include the little acts that make up life in the rural north, where trees and crows outnumber people, where joy means a little wilderness, some warmth, and where one preserves what is wild and alive in a single night, night by night."
 
 
jesse may
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  Jesse May first discovered poker as a teenager growing up in suburban Madison, New Jersey. Obsession may have been a better word for the weekends that May and his high school buddies would spend dealing cards in someone's den or on trips down to Atlantic City in attempts to sneak into the casinos. In 1988 he enrolled in the University of Chicago, but Tuesday and Thursday morning classes and Monday and Wednesday night poker games soon presented May with irreconcilable differences. He dropped out. The next six years were spent in a haze of poker games and traveling. Jesse traveled from New York to New Orleans, from California to Las Vegas, and followed the trail of new poker rooms in locales as mundane as Connecticut and as exotic as Katmandu. Recently married, May finds spending time with his new wife infinitely preferable to time spent at the poker table. The couple now splits their time between New York and Copenhagen.  
 
gordon grice
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  Gordon Grice's writing about the black widow spider has appeared in High Plains Literary Review and Harper's. It has been anthologized in Houghton Mifflin's Best American Essays 1996 and in college readers. Grice teaches humanities and English at Seward County Community College in Liberal, Kansas. He lives in rural Oklahoma with his wife and their three-year-old son.  
 
jon krakauer
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  Favorite beer: Guiness, drawn correctly from a tap.

Favorite food: Pizza Margherita.

Historical event I would liked to have witnessed:
The Lewis and Clark expedition that opened up the West.

Favorite Magazines: Harper's, Outside, The New Yorker.

Writing space:
I have a tiny, eight by ten foot office. Books stacked everywhere, threatening to avalanche down, so cramped it's unbelievable. It just looks like a bomb went off.

Dream vacation:
I would go with my wife to Northern Italy or Patagonia. But the first place I would go would be to the Alaskan Arctic, to the Brooks Range, the first place I ever went in Alaska. I've been back there three times and it's still one of my favorite places.

Jon Krakauer recently won the 1997 National Magazine Award for the Outside magazine article on Everest.
 
 
michael pollan
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  Michael Pollan is the author of the award-winning Second Nature: A Gardener's Education which received the QPB New Visions prize in 1991. He is editor-at-large of Harper's Magazine, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, and a columnist for House and Garden, where he writes about architecture. Pollan lives in Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut, with his wife, the painter Judith Belzer, and their son Isaac.  
 
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    Photo Credits: Bill Bryson: Jerry Bauer; Lisa Carey: Matthew Swig; Jesse May: Mickey K. May; Jon Krakauer: Linda M. Moore; Michael Pollan: John Peden.