Kate Tuttle

Writer & Critic

Kate Tuttle

Writing on books and authors, race and politics, family and childhood.


In 'Unfollow,' a memoir about leaving a brutal church

Many people in Topeka, Kan., first became aware of the Westboro Baptist Church in the early 1990s, when members began what would become their trademark public action: picketing to protest what they saw as the ills of an ungodly world. Megan Phelps-Roper was 5 years old when it began; as a little girl, she stood with her parents and other family members — for that's what the church was at the time, one extended family — holding picket signs warning of gay people in the city's Gage Park.

On the braided history of schools and courts

For Justin Driver, his book’s topic is personal. “I grew up in Southeast DC, in the less privileged segment of Washington,” said Driver, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School. His parents, who stressed educational achievement, enrolled him in a better public school far from their own struggling neighborhood.
The Boston Globe Link to Story

Emory professor examines how school desegregation went wrong

For decades the story of school desegregation has been told as a heroic narrative starring NAACP lawyers and brave African-American students, in which the Supreme Court victory in Brown v. Board of Education marked the beginning of a new era of equality for black and white schoolchildren. In a new book, Emory Professor Vanessa Siddle Walker introduces readers to previously little-known actors in the drama: the Southern black educators who worked, often in secret, to help African-American students and their families both before and after Brown.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Link to Story

Salman Rushdie on the opulent realism of his new novel, 'The Golden House'

“I’m on the Technicolor end,” said Salman Rushdie. He was talking about the kind of realism you’ll find in “The Golden House,” his new novel. “If realism goes from Raymond Carver to James Joyce,” he explained, “It’s realism, but it’s kind of amped up, boosted.”. Interviewed in the Manhattan office of his longtime agent, Andrew Wylie, Rushdie was jovial and charming, a voluble conversationalist not only about the art of fiction but also on topics as diverse as the politics of place names and the different ways to grip the paddle when playing ping-pong.
Los Angeles Times Link to Story

Patricia Lockwood likes to write in bed. 'Priestdaddy' is her memoir

Patricia Lockwood became a famous poet on the Internet, a statement that raises many questions: Is “famous poet” even a thing? Isn’t poetry a stodgy and dignified endeavor, more suited to print magazines like the New Yorker than ephemeral, frivolous spaces like Twitter? And how was it that some of the smartest, most original poetry was being written by the daughter of a Catholic priest, a woman who never went to college, married at 21, and does her writing from bed in Savannah, Ga.?
Los Angeles Times Link to Story

VP Pence's No-Lady-Company Policy Is Not About Respecting His Wife

I lost my good friend, Denis, two weeks ago. He and I are both straight, and never became romantically involved. I am married, and during our friendship, he got divorced and began dating another woman (whose grief right now I can’t even imagine). The world has lost a brilliant man, his children have lost a loving father, and so many of us have lost a great friend.
DAME Magazine Link to Story

In Brief: Review of The Firebrand and the First Lady, Two More

THE FIREBRAND AND THE FIRST LADY: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice. While Eleanor Roosevelt is one of the most famous and respected public figures of the last century, writer and activist Pauli Murray is much less well known. This thrilling new book by Patricia Bell-Scott ought to change that.
The Boston Globe Link to Story

Story Behind the Book: ‘The Vatican Prophecies’ by John Thavis

John Thavis arrived in Italy in the 1970s as an archaeology and classics student. Times were turbulent. “They had kidnapped the Italian prime minister the day after I arrived in Rome, so I walked into the English-language newspaper and got a job,” he said. A new life and career began that day. Thavis, who has covered the Vatican full time since 1982, said it’s a tough beat to crack: “It requires a lot of effort, years of developing sources, and learning the language, learning the theological language as well as the Italian language.”.
The Boston Globe Link to Story

I'm Happy to Be An Atheist Parent

My son M, 8 years old, is growing up in Atlanta. This is a fine thing: Atlanta has wonderful food, glorious natural beauty, and some of the most genuinely friendly people you will ever meet. It’s also the Bible Belt, and even though we live in a relatively progressive community here, the entire atmosphere is much, much more religious—especially Christian—than where I raised M’s sister A, now 21, who grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
DAME Magazine Link to Story

Can You Have Your Menorah and Your Christmas Tree, Too?

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah. My friend Ann put up a new picture on her Facebook page: her two little girls lighting the Menorah while wearing matching sweaters bearing the smiling face of … Santa Claus. “The tops are from their Nana,” Ann explains, her non-Jewish mother-in-law. Ann’s family celebrates Christmas and Hanukkah each winter; they are hardly alone.
DAME Magazine Link to Story

You're a Creepy One, Elf on the Shelf

An enumeration of everything that's wrong with the holiday toy. You may have heard of the Elf on the Shelf, or you may not have. If you're unfamiliar with the phenomenon, this is what you need to know: It's a doll that parents place around the house during run-up to Christmas. Parents warn their kids that the Elf is watching them to be sure they're being good.
The Atlantic Link to Story


Kate Tuttle

I'm on the executive board of the National Book Critics Circle. My reviews and articles about books have appeared in the Boston Globe, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Salon,, and elsewhere. Native Kansan, longtime Cantabrigian, lately of Georgia, now in New Jersey. Mother, wife, pal.

Feel free to email me at