Author Archive

The Furious Finish: On Deadlines

Author: | Categories: Uncategorized 1 Comment
It’s 1979 and the Mad Men-esque execs were in a cab, on the way to present a corporate identity theme to the bigwigs at GE. The current version was pretty clunky and they knew it: We make the things that make life good.” Their agency teams had spent weeks

And Then We Came to the End: One Year & Fourteen Books Later

Author: | Categories: Uncategorized No comments
I suck at endings. But that’s something a lot of people say, isn’t it? As if everyone else is really good at quitting a job or relationship or saying goodbye or ending a story. (I’ve never met anyone who claims special talent at this. Ever.) So much rides on

The Internet: Savior of the Short Story?

Author: | Categories: Uncategorized No comments
When my daughter was in her first few months of life, I made a sort of peace with the nighttime feedings by reading through a short story collection. One story usually lasted the amount of time she needed to feel satiated, and I had something to look forward to

Finding the Formula in a 20th Century Fiction Factory

Author: | Categories: Reading No comments
I was only a few pages in when I understood I wouldn’t be finishing The Outdoor Girls In a Motorcar, a 1913 book from a series called, appropriately, The Outdoor Girls. I’ve already written about not finishing good books, and that wasn’t the issue this time. In fact, it

The Little Dictionary That Could

Author: | Categories: Uncategorized 1 Comment
It’s a skinny thing, Gustave Flaubert’s Le Dictionnaire des idées reçues, not even 100 pages. And The Dictionary of Accepted Ideas also isn’t the source you’d turn to when someone peppers a conversation with a few big words. It is, however, the dictionary you could pick up and read during, say, a

On Reading Diaries: It’s Not Just for Pesky Little Brothers

Author: | Categories: Uncategorized No comments
We were in our green Ford Aerostar, my high-school self trying to engage my parents in a serious discussion, when my brother began quoting, softly at first, lines from my diary. The kinds of lines you write for yourself, lines that are embarrassing and incriminating when recited out loud

Self-Help Seduction

Author: | Categories: Uncategorized 2 Comments
There are certain books we all hide. You know them. The ones purchased late at night when no one we know is in the bookstore. Or better yet, ordered from Amazon for further anonymity. These are books we don’t want anyone to know we read, certainly not our literary

Between Centuries: A Six-Month Perspective

Author: | Categories: Uncategorized No comments
The year is more than half over, which means those of us who attempted New Year’s resolutions have either mastered, given up, or heavily revised them. It also means my year of reading 100-year-old books is halfway finished. It all started, in February, with a dead poet and a

Raising ’em right: Fiction & Parenthood

Author: | Categories: Uncategorized 1 Comment
Within the next few weeks, I’ll be officially responsible for introducing another human being to a sense of ethics—of how to be in this world. Granted, she and I will be initially concerned with a few other things, but the time will come when we will talk about right

Series Junkies: We Are All “Loving Tyrants”

Author: | Categories: Uncategorized 2 Comments
What to do when, as a writer, you’re ready to move on from a world you’ve created, but your fan base is not? L. Frank Baum, the originator of the Oz world and all its charming characters, had exactly that experience. It goes like this. Beginning in 1900, he