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Alumni
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About the Author: Harold Varmus '61

Name
Harold Varmus
(view alumni profile - log in required)

Current Home
New York City

Place of Birth
Long Island, NY

Education
Freeport NY public schools, from grade 1 to 12.
Amherst College, 1961
Harvard Graduate School 1961-62,
Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons 1962-66

Why did you choose to come to Amherst
I thought I'd have small classes and attentive faculty (and that was true).

Favorite PROFESSOR
at the time: Ben DeMott
over the long haul: Bill Pritchard

and favorite CLASS
Most challenging: English 1-2
Most enjoyable: English novel with Ben DeMott 

Favorite Book

RE: Amherst Reads Features Hold Tight by Harlan Coben '84
From my Amherst thesis work: Bleak House and Great Expectations
From a lifetime of reading: Anna Karenina
From the past year:  Sea of Poppies (Amitav Ghosh)

Favorite Author
depends on the time of day.

Tips for aspiring writers
If I had some, I'd have written more  books.

Tell us about your path to becoming a writer
I've written a lot of scientific papers and a few books about the work I do; this is my first book for a truly general public.  Why did I write it?   In 2004 I naively signed a contract with WW Norton to give three lectures at the New York Public Library; in dense print was an obligation to turn the lectures into a text.    I didn't realize how hard that conversion would be.  Four years later, I delivered a manuscript to Norton that had only occasional paragraphs from the lectures.   Despite the stresses of writing it, I have gotten a lot of satisfaction from the finished product---enough to think I might do something like it again!

 
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