I’m pleased to report that the 2013 Swim for Clean Water went off as planned on Tuesday August 20th, in the very clean waters of Pleasant Lake near Casco, ME. Of course, Diana Nyad’s heroic 110-mile open-water swim from Cuba to Florida last week puts our 1.24 miles into perspective, but a swimmer has to start somewhere! The Swim for Clean Water has netted $15,425 for UNICEF’s Water, Hygiene and Sanitation programs so far, and donations are still coming in. I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who has contributed so generously. Many thanks to Louise Fritts Johnson, Anne Fritts and Jess Vogel of Camp Arcadia for their enthusiasm for the project, and to our able lifeguard Rhys Green. I would like to give credit as well to my husband, who trains with me and inspires me, and to friends old and new at Camp Arcadia Family Camp, who took part in the swim.

Every day, over 4,100 children around the world die from lack of sanitation, poor hygiene practices or contaminated drinking water. But UNICEF is on the case: in 2012 alone, UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene programs helped over 18.8 million vulnerable people gain access to clean water. Thank you for your consideration of the project.



PS: There is no deadline to support this cause —contributions to UNICEF are always welcome! You can make a check out to “US Fund for UNICEF,” and send it to Chelsea Peters, Swim for Clean Water, US Fund for UNICEF, 125 Maiden Lane, New York, NY 10038. Or contact Chelsea Peters to donate by credit card: telephone: 212-922-2514; email:

“An entertaining winner.”Publishers Weekly

“Tartly clever … Block’s zesty take on love, life and the pursuit of rent-controlled nirvana is an especially smart and cunning romp.” Booklist

"A funny, smart and beautifully written homage to movies, New York, love and all the other things that make life tolerable." – Gary Shteyngart, author of The Russian Debutante’s Handbook and Absurdistan

Don't Make A Scene is a frothy, witty delight that stealthily delivers some very healthy ideas about love, real estate, Cuba, and the movies, and surprises you into frequent sharp fits of laughter. Valerie Block is that comic sensibility for whom fans of Mitford, Spark, and Waugh have been waiting.” – Alice Elliot Dark, author of In the Gloaming and Think of England

"Don't Make a Scene is an amusing, sophisticated novel with two interesting major figures and a nicely developed cast of supporting characters." - Diane White, The Boston Globe

What's your favorite movie? The one that still speaks to you years after you first saw it? As a lifelong cinema fan, I've always been intrigued by how the movies shape and haunt us. In my new novel, Don't Make a Scene, I wanted to explore what happens when the eternal allure of classic movies collides with the daily indignities of contemporary life. Take a look, read an excerpt or an interview, check out the list of films that make a cameo appearance in the novel. I hope you enjoy the book, and if you have strong opinions of any kind, I hope you'll get in touch to let me know. Thank you for visiting, and happy reading!


CVS Revisited, From Across the Pond

Is there anything more humiliating than explaining medical issues of a personal nature in a foreign language? Perhaps I was a bit hasty recently when I compared CVS to a vertically integrated hydra of world domination. Last week, on vacation to Italy, I had reason to feel nostalgic for the US model of self-service, as poor packing meant several visits to farmacias for basic over-the-counter products…
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