Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Closing the Book

In a new essay for The New York Times, biographer Robert K. Massie admits that breaking up is hard to do

March 5, 2012 Critically acclaimed biographer Robert K. Massie, who grew up in Nashville, has logged a lot of library hours in the course of writing four bestselling biographies. And somewhere, deep in the stacks, he always falls in love. In a new essay for The New York Times, he explains:

I began with visits to libraries, reading and reacting to different accounts and perspectives. Then came travel to faraway places, discussions with editors, followed by more libraries. I did this for eight years. By the time I had reached the halfway point, I felt both momentum and reticence: momentum because author and publisher both want a book to be finished; reticence because most biographers don’t want the writing to end. You don’t want the subject to die; you don’t want to lose the friend you have made, the companion you are accustomed to, and perhaps you also don’t want to see the whole cast of supporting characters, and the historical and cultural environment in which they all lived, vanish with them.

Read the rest of the essay here.

Massie’s latest book, Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman, is the latest installment in his series of exhaustively researched narrative masterpieces focusing on Russian history. It was recently shortlisted for the 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Award in biography, and it made the 2011 year-end lists of The New York Times Book Review and BookPage, IndieBound, and The Boston Globe. To read Fernanda Moore’s interview with Massie for Chapter 16, click here.