Katharine Weber

Katharine Weber’s novel, The Music Lesson, is published by Phoenix House. She teaches fiction-writing at Yale.

Tired of Being Boring: Murder at Harvard

Katharine Weber, 4 February 1999

Harvard, murder. How much more intriguing that sounds than, say, Harlem, murder. When the story broke, in spring 1995, Melanie Thernstrom was assigned to cover it for the New Yorker. She had graduated from Harvard in 1987, and had lived in Dunster House, where the murder took place. Teaching creative writing at the University in 1992, she briefly met the future murderer, whom she did not select for a seminar. Halfway Heaven is an expanded version of her original piece of reportage, with some autobiographical passages and a certain amount of philosophising: the book opens with a description of the 1996 Harvard Commencement in order to make the point that there are no references ‘throughout the long commencement day, to two girls who are not there to graduate with their class, and whose fate reflects … the problem of evil’.‘

In his review of my novel The Music Lesson (LRB, 15 April), Theo Tait criticises my depiction of the dramatic actions of an IRA splinter group on the grounds that ‘the fit with contemporary Irish politics’ is ‘offensively loose’, adding that in the late Nineties the narrator’s aim – ‘to force powerful people to pay attention and take decisive action at last’ – is a ‘curious objective’...

In his unfortunate account of a Ter Borch brothel scene, Goethe earnestly identifies the leering john as a ‘noble, knightly father’ admonishing his wayward but honourable daughter...

Read More

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences