Jeanne Marie LaskasJeanne Marie Laskas is the New York Times best-selling author of Concussion (Penguin Random House, 2015) and the 2009 GQ article “Game Brain,” which inspired the Golden Globe-nominated movie, Concussion, starring Will Smith and Alec Baldwin. She is the author of six other books, include the award-winning Hidden America (Putnam, 2012) and a trilogy of memoirs: Fifty Acres and Poodle (Bantam Dell, 2000), The Exact Same Moon (Bantam Dell, 2003), and Growing Girls (Bantam Dell, 2006). Formerly a contributing editor at Esquire, and a syndicated weekly columnist (“Significant Others”) at The Washington Post Magazine, she has been writing for national magazines for 20 years, with work appearing in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine, Allure, Ladies Home Journal, and many others. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, including Best American Magazine Writing 2008 and Best American Sportswriting 2000, 2002, 2008, 2010 and 2012. She has won more than a dozen Gold Quill awards for Excellence in Journalism, and her piece about coal mining, “Underworld,” was a finalist in feature writing for the 2007 National Magazine Awards. Her earliest essays and features are compiled in The Balloon Lady and Other People I Know (Duquesne, 1996). Laskas writes regularly for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and GQ, where she is a correspondent. She is a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, where she is director of The Writing Program, and founding director of The Center for Creativity. She lives on a horse farm with her husband and two daughters.
The 2017-2018 Common Reading Program Selection is Hidden America by Jeanne Marie Laskas. In Hidden America, award-winning journalist Jeanne Maries Laskas dives deep into her subjects and emerges with character-driven stories about the people who make our lives run every day—yet we barely think of them. Hidden America intends to fix that. Like John McPhee and Susan Orlean, Laskas dives deep into her subjects and emerges with character-driven narratives that are gripping, funny, and revelatory.
Laskas spent weeks in an Ohio coal mine and on an Alaskan oil rig; in a Maine migrant labor camp, a Texas beef ranch, the air traffic control tower at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, a California landfill, an Arizona gun shop, the cab of a long-haul truck in Iowa, and the stadium of the Cincinnati Ben-Gals cheerleaders. Cheerleaders? Yes. They, too, are hidden America, and you will be amazed by what Laskas tells you about them: hidden no longer.