Alum Book Signing Saturday – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Alum Book Signing Saturday

While back on campus for Reunion, authors John D’Agata ’95, Ellen Ecker Ogden ’76, Morton H. Redner ’61 and Dorothy Wickenden ’76 will host a book signing celebrating the release of their most recent titles. The signing will take place on Saturday, June 4, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the College Store.

D’Agata is the author of “About a Mountain” which debuted in 2011. The book explores the plan by the U.S. Federal Government to fill Yucca Mountain, located 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, with tens of thousands of tons of nuclear waste. D’Agata became interested in this topic when his mother moved to Las Vegas. 

“Once my mom became a part of that landscape, I was inevitably drawn to Yucca Mountain as a research project because now that preposterousness had become a personal threat,” D’Agata said when interviewed for the Pulteney St. Survey

In a recent New York Times review, D’Agata was cited as someone who “works by establishing a scene, introducing tangentially related elements, building layers of complexity and scope, then jump-cutting or circling back at just the right moment, guiding the reader safely – and unexpectedly – to a destination D’Agata had in sight the whole time.”

 D’Agata graduated from Hobart College summa cum laude with an individual major. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and earned High Honors in literary/non-fiction. He went on to earn two MFA degrees – in nonfiction and poetry – from the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. His other books include “The Lost Origins of the Essay” and “Next American Essay.”

Ogden is the author of “The Complete Kitchen Garden,” an inspiring collection of recipes and garden designs for the home gardener and cook. Ogden based her book on the seasonal cycles, with each chapter providing a new way for the reader to better his or her garden with themes and designs. “The Complete Kitchen Garden” features more than 100 recipes and 15 garden themes, revealing the best methods to grow and use vegetables, flowers and herbs in innovative ways.  Ogden, who believes that “every garden is a reflection of the gardener,” began writing and publishing her own cookbooks and garden books in 1984.  This is currently her fourth and favorite book. 

Graduating from William Smith with a B.A. in art, Ogden has become a nationally acknowledged kitchen garden expert and cookbook author. She co-founded “The Cook’s Garden” catalog, America’s prime source for seeds and plants, in 1984 introducing home gardeners to European and American heirloom lettuces and other salad greens. The catalog has grown to include a vast range of culinary specialties for the home gardener and Ogden has developed seasonal recipes for the catalog.

Redner is the author of “Getting Out: A Love Story of the Vietnam Draft” published by BookSurge, LLC in 2008 and first published by Simon and Schuster in 1972. The New York Times called the book, “So funny . . . so painfully accurate.” According to Redner, critics compared “Getting Out” with “The Graduate,” and “Goodbye Columbus,” and its main character to Holden Caulfield. Harlan Ellison described it as “a magical, entrapping web-footed wonder of a novel.” The Philadelphia Enquirer called it the “funniest reading since Catch-22.”


The publisher’s description of the book explains: “There were two wars in the 1960s. While the United States military was fighting in Vietnam, there was another battle raging here at home, a private war fought by ordinary young men who wanted no part of Vietnam. What was it like for those young people who came of age during Vietnam? Nothing tells it better than this painfully funny tale of one such young man. He’s in love, he’s been drafted, and he’s bent on getting out.”


Redner is a content developer, instructional designer and technical writer based in California. He has also written and produced TV, radio, and print advertising for clients including Chrysler, Revlon, Jell-O, General Electric and Oral-B. A recruitment poster he created for the Peace Corps hangs in the Smithsonian Museum of American Art.

Wickenden is the author of “Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West,” a true story about two Smith College graduates who left home in 1916 for the wilds of northwestern Colorado. Wickenden was the granddaughter of Dorothy Woodruff, one of the characters the book is based upon. After finding the letters that the two women had written while on their journey, Wickenden decided to turn their letters into a story. According to the book’s publishers Simon and Schuster, she “enhances the story with interviews with descendants, research about these vanished communities, and trips to the region, [creating] an exhilarating saga about two intrepid young women and the ‘settling up’ of the West.”

Wickenden graduated magna cum laude from William Smith and has been the executive editor of The New Yorker since January 1996. Prior to joining The New Yorker in 1995, Wickenden was the executive editor of The New Republic and the national affairs editor for Newsweek magazine. She has been a contributing writer for The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The Wilson Quarterly. In addition, she is the editor of “The New Republic Reader: Eighty Years of Opinion and Debate.”


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