Author Archive

The Zippo Museum in Bradford, PA and Zippo Sightings in Literature

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I admire a story the way I admire a Zippo lighter—perfectly, even simply engineered to do what is required to do, with nothing extra tacked on.  I’m thinking of an unadorned lighter here, simple brushed steel, not one with a Harley Davidson logo on the side.  Wick, flint, wind

On the Road with “The Lady of Shalott”

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On long drives, I’ve found various ways to occupy myself. Like choreographing tap dances to “Annabel Lee,” working out how to sing the “Brady Bunch” theme song to the tune of “Ode to Joy,” and attempting to memorize Tennyson’s “Lady of Shalott,” my project as I drove from PA

Borne Back Ceaselessly into the Past: Visiting Authors’ Graves

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I’ve always liked cemeteries. Not in a morbid or macabre way. I’m not really a graver, a tombstone tender, stone stroller, death hag, or taphophile, I just like the quiet peace of cemeteries, those simple records of lives that came before. My daughter has spent much of her childhood

A Victorian Legacy in the Midwest: Hair in Art and Literature

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Leila’s Hair Museum occupies an unassuming building in Independence, MO along a busy street of strip malls. I sought it out last summer on a visit to the Midwest, intrigued by its website. According to it, Leila Cahoon, a retired hairdresser who has made collecting hair art her life’s

On the Trail of L. Frank Baum

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Many people’s notions of Kansas, my home state—which once issued license plates that said “Land of Ahs”— come straight from The Wizard of Oz. A pen-pal from Ohio once told me that she envisioned Kansas as a beautiful, colorful place bisected by roads made of pure gold. I had to