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Home > Author > Deborah Lee Luskin
Deborah Lee Luskin

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Deborah Lee Luskin is a writer by vocation and a Vermonter by choice. Into the Wilderness is her first published novel.

Background Information

Deborah Lee Luskin’s idyllic childhood in Teaneck, New Jersey, ended in 1966, when her family moved to Weston, Connecticut. But it’s possible that adolescence would have been miserable anywhere. Deborah mitigated loneliness by reading novels; Jane Austen became her best friend.

She graduated from Oberlin College in 1978. With High Honors in English but few life skills, Luskin moved to New York City, where her first job as an editorial assistant for a small imprint involved enduring fairly constant sexual harassment. Not knowing any better, she just thought it was normal.

Rather than suffer ill treatment and worse pay while crawling her way to an assistant editorship, Luskin decided she’d rather read good books and become an assistant professor. She earned a PhD in English Literature at Columbia. In Jane Austen and the Limits of Epistolary Fiction, Luskin argues that Austen uses letters to teach her characters—and her readers—the importance of close reading.

The good things about graduate school included reading great books, teaching, and living in New York City. The bad thing about New York City was summer. In 1983 Luskin attended the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, where she made one lifelong friend and decided to spend summers in Vermont. The following year, she rented a house even smaller than her New York apartment, where she wrote her first novel and met her Fitzwilliam Darcy. Two years later, they married.

With her newly awarded doctorate, Luskin became the office manager of what she called “The Mom and Pop Doc Shop,” bore three children, gardened, and dreamt of order, quiet, and time to write. But even in the noise and disorder of family life, she managed to write essays, features, and fiction.

Luskin retired from health care administration in 2003 and has focused on her twin passions of reading and writing ever since. She continues to teach writing and literature-based humanities classes to inmates, healthcare workers, children, adults and elders. She writes for a variety of publications, and is a regular commentator on Vermont Public Radio.

When not reading or writing, Luskin enjoys hiking, keeping bees, raising fruits, vegetables and chickens, sculling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and heating with wood. She lives with her husband, three children, two cats, and a dog in southern Vermont.

Into The Wilderness is Luskin’s third completed novel, and the first published.


"Into The Wilderness" was one of the 60 books published in 2009-2010 to receive a Rapid Review at the May conference of the Vermont Library Association.
According to Jerry Carbone, Director of Brooks Memorial Library in Brattleboro, "During a two hour session, librarians hear three voracious readers provide sound-bite reviews of 60 of their favorite books published in 2009 and 2010. These titles are not the bestsellers, but quality fiction and nonfiction that rise to the top of critics' lists, not just the titles with the largest advertising budgets."
"Into the Wilderness" was one of just five books listed in the category "Sense of Place".

Additional Information

Luskin's essay, "The Mom and Pop Doc Shop" was just published in the anthology, "The Country Doictor in the 21st Century" (Kent State University Press, 2010)

Favorite Links

Into The Wilderness
In 1964 Rose Mayer buries her second husband and wonders what she is going to do with the rest of her life. Shes sixty-four and homeless, but about two things shes clear: shes never going to marry again, and she isnt going to visit her son in Vermont. But Rose does go to Vermont likes it and stays. At the Marlboro Music Festival she meets Percy Mendell, a born and bred Vermonter who has never married, never voted for a Democrat, and never left the state. Percy is struggling with his long-held political beliefs: Goldwater is too extreme even for the party faithful, and in the November election, Vermonters vote for LBJ. Meanwhile, Rose finds herself living without a Jewish community for the first time in her life, forcing her to examine her faith. She survives her first hunting season, celebrates her first Christmas, and enjoys her first taste of maple syrup. Percy takes up gardening, begins piano lessons, and falls in love. Between Good Friday and Easter, Rose and Percy celebrate Passover with their neighbors, ready to start a new life together in the Vermont spring.

Vermont Public Radio
Luskin has been a regular commentator for Vermont Public Radio since 2006. Her commentaries are archived on the vpr website.

Vermont Humanities Council
Luskin can be booked to speak about the shift in Vermont politics in 1964 through the Speaker's Bureau. Vermont can be booked to facilitate literature-based humanities programs through the Connections and Community Reading programs of the Vermont Humanities Council

Editorial Columnist
Luskin is a regular editorial columnist for Windham County's independent newspaper

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