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The Story Prize 2016: A Tremendous Empathy

March 4, 2016 – 7:12 am | 0 views
The Story Prize 2016: A Tremendous Empathy

I recently reviewed a couple of books about patterns; similar subjects, different approaches. One dealt with patterns found in nature, in utilitarian objects, in random occurrences. The other examined the lore behind classic patterns—why the polka in polka dots, the etymology of “seersucker” (from the Hindi śīrśakkar, meaning “milk and sugar,” for the fabric’s alternating […]

The Story Prize 2016: A Tremendous Empathy

March 4, 2016 – 7:12 am | 0 views
The Story Prize 2016: A Tremendous Empathy

I recently reviewed a couple of books about patterns; similar subjects, different approaches. One dealt with patterns found in nature, in utilitarian objects, in random occurrences. The other examined the lore behind classic patterns—why the polka in polka dots, the etymology of “seersucker” (from the Hindi śīrśakkar, meaning “milk and sugar,” for the fabric’s alternating […]

Shirt Pocket Reviews: Best of 2015

January 2, 2016 – 5:56 pm | 0 views
Shirt Pocket Reviews: Best of 2015

Spending between 10 and 15 hours on public transportation a week isn’t good for much, but it’s been excellent for my reading life. The downside, of course, has been a lack of free time to write about it. I can usually juggle a book or iPad on a train sardine-packed with my fellow commuters; less […]

Pocket Review: Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann

December 31, 2015 – 11:36 pm | 0 views
Pocket Review: Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann

Thirteen Ways of Looking Colum McCann HarperCollins, 2015 I can’t very well talk about my best books of the year until the year’s over, and I had one last book to finish up on the last day of 2015. So imagine my delight when I opened up Colum McCann’s Thirteen Ways of Looking this afternoon […]

Jeanette Winterson on Not Cursing the Darkness

November 2, 2015 – 8:27 am | 0 views
Jeanette Winterson on Not Cursing the Darkness

If you ask me, the first day of winter doesn’t fall on the Solstice. Rather, it comes on the first Monday after Daylight Saving time ends, when you look up from your desk at 5:00 and it’s dark out—that moment you realize that you’re not going to see much of the sun until March, except […]

An Unhaunting

October 31, 2015 – 5:50 pm | 0 views
An Unhaunting

It’s easy enough to get in. There are no locks; you can enter as you like. Once you’re inside, though, there’s something unsettling. Everything looks to be in order, but you get an uneasy sense of abandonment. Someone used this place, once, on a regular basis—loved it, even. But now there’s a pervasive pall of […]

Pocket Review: Talk by Linda Rosenkrantz

July 30, 2015 – 6:49 am | 0 views
Pocket Review: Talk by Linda Rosenkrantz

Talk Linda Rosenkrantz New York Review Books, 2015 Summer reading lists, the midyear staples of literary sites, blogs, and review pages, are necessarily the stuff of fantasy: what we will pack to read on the beach in between dips in the azure ocean, what we will take on that plane trip to exotic lands or […]

Pocket Review: Talk by Linda Rosenkrantz

July 30, 2015 – 6:49 am | 0 views
Pocket Review: Talk by Linda Rosenkrantz

Talk Linda Rosenkrantz New York Review Books, 2015 Summer reading lists, the midyear staples of literary sites, blogs, and review pages, are necessarily the stuff of fantasy: what we will pack to read on the beach in between dips in the azure ocean, what we will take on that plane trip to exotic lands or […]

Pocket Review: The Sunken Cathedral by Kate Walbert

July 16, 2015 – 7:32 am | 0 views
Pocket Review: The Sunken Cathedral by Kate Walbert

The Sunken Cathedral Kate Walbert Scribner, 2015 Here is an interesting, almost Oulipean, challenge: How does one write a modern, urban novel without referencing technology? Maybe modern is the wrong word, with its connotations of sleekness and smooth surfaces. How does one write a contemporary novel, then, set in—say—New York City, without mentioning cell phones, […]

Pocket Review: The Sunken Cathedral by Kate Walbert

July 16, 2015 – 7:32 am | 0 views
Pocket Review: The Sunken Cathedral by Kate Walbert

The Sunken Cathedral Kate Walbert Scribner, 2015 Here is an interesting, almost Oulipean, challenge: How does one write a modern, urban novel without referencing technology? Maybe modern is the wrong word, with its connotations of sleekness and smooth surfaces. How does one write a contemporary novel, then, set in—say—New York City, without mentioning cell phones, […]

Dreaming of a Cold and Rainy Fourth

July 3, 2015 – 11:01 pm | 0 views
Dreaming of a Cold and Rainy Fourth

Confession time: I’m hoping it rains tomorrow. I know, I know—that’s a terrible thing to say. People have beach plans and grilling plans and fireworks-viewing plans. Me, I have a very beloved ten-year-old dog who is absolutely terrified of anything percussive, and I live in a neighborhood of obnoxious dumbass teenagers who like to blow […]

Dreaming of a Cold and Rainy Fourth

July 3, 2015 – 11:01 pm | 0 views
Dreaming of a Cold and Rainy Fourth

Confession time: I’m hoping it rains tomorrow. I know, I know—that’s a terrible thing to say. People have beach plans and grilling plans and fireworks-viewing plans. Me, I have a very beloved ten-year-old dog who is absolutely terrified of anything percussive, and I live in a neighborhood of obnoxious dumbass teenagers who like to blow […]

The PEN Literary Awards: Picking The [Under] Dog

June 9, 2015 – 7:00 am | 0 views
The PEN Literary Awards: Picking The [Under] Dog

I fully intended on going to the PEN Literary Awards last night, I really did. I RSVP’d, for one thing, and anyone who knows me knows I’m compulsively polite on that count, because the PEN people certainly must have set aside those two plastic cups of Merlot and a couple of cheese cubes with my […]

The PEN Literary Awards: Picking The [Under] Dog

June 9, 2015 – 7:00 am | 0 views
The PEN Literary Awards: Picking The [Under] Dog

I fully intended on going to the PEN Literary Awards last night, I really did. I RSVP’d, for one thing, and anyone who knows me knows I’m compulsively polite on that count, because the PEN people certainly must have set aside those two plastic cups of Merlot and a couple of cheese cubes with my […]

“The Most Mundane and Human Holiday”

January 1, 2015 – 2:30 pm | 0 views
“The Most Mundane and Human Holiday”

My relationship to New Year’s Day has changed as I’ve gotten older. It’s funny; you’d think that as a younger person I would have been more concerned with looking ahead, at all the untapped energy of those blank calendar pages. But maybe because they were so abundant I could take them for granted, I was […]

“The Most Mundane and Human Holiday”

January 1, 2015 – 2:30 pm | 0 views
“The Most Mundane and Human Holiday”

My relationship to New Year’s Day has changed as I’ve gotten older. It’s funny; you’d think that as a younger person I would have been more concerned with looking ahead, at all the untapped energy of those blank calendar pages. But maybe because they were so abundant I could take them for granted, I was […]

You Don’t Tug on Superman’s Cape

December 30, 2014 – 7:00 am | 0 views
You Don’t Tug on Superman’s Cape

I don’t imagine everyone dreams exclusively of a full-time job doing whatever it is they love best. There are probably plenty of artists who want to make art on their own terms, in their own time, thank you very much, and are happy to work at something completely unrelated in order to pay the rent. […]

Pocket Review: The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel

November 17, 2014 – 7:00 am | 0 views
Pocket Review: The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories Hilary Mantel Henry Holt & Company, 2014 The worth of a book is in the reading, obviously, but there’s also a value to the conversation it creates. To the Lighthouse, Ulysses, On the Road—the aggregate comments they generated took on a life of its own. And a book doesn’t […]

Pocket Review: The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel

November 17, 2014 – 7:00 am | 0 views
Pocket Review: The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories Hilary Mantel Henry Holt & Company, 2014 The worth of a book is in the reading, obviously, but there’s also a value to the conversation it creates. To the Lighthouse, Ulysses, On the Road—the aggregate comments they generated took on a life of its own. And a book doesn’t […]

Happy Birthday, Theodore Roosevelt

October 27, 2014 – 11:42 pm | 0 views
Happy Birthday, Theodore Roosevelt

Today is Dylan Thomas’s birthday, and Sylvia Plath’s, and Zadie Smith’s… the book blogosphere is practically melting from all those virtual candles. Happy birthday to those literary lights, and thanks for all the good writing. But Theodore Roosevelt was also born on this day, 156 years ago: police commissioner, governor, president, soldier, naturalist/hunter, explorer, one […]

Fifty Scary Short Stories from Flavorwire

October 26, 2014 – 10:44 pm | 0 views
Fifty Scary Short Stories from Flavorwire

I am not, as a rule, a big fan of holidays—especially the ones with stuff. The thought of having to get things down from the attic and out of boxes and put them all around my house and then put them back in the boxes and take them back up to the attic in short […]

Fifty Scary Short Stories from Flavorwire

October 26, 2014 – 10:44 pm | 0 views
Fifty Scary Short Stories from Flavorwire

I am not, as a rule, a big fan of holidays—especially the ones with stuff. The thought of having to get things down from the attic and out of boxes and put them all around my house and then put them back in the boxes and take them back up to the attic in short […]

The Birth of the Trailer

October 4, 2014 – 9:30 pm | 0 views
The Birth of the Trailer

The history of book trailers dates back to the arrival of broadband Internet access and personal computers, for good reason—how else would you watch them? But there were a few outliers: TV spots for mass market blockbusters back in the early days of cable, and, apparently, some on film as well. Remember those odd shorts […]

The Birth of the Trailer

October 4, 2014 – 9:30 pm | 0 views
The Birth of the Trailer

The history of book trailers dates back to the arrival of broadband Internet access and personal computers, for good reason—how else would you watch them? But there were a few outliers: TV spots for mass market blockbusters back in the early days of cable, and, apparently, some on film as well. Remember those odd shorts […]

On Getting Self-Reliant

September 1, 2014 – 11:40 am | 0 views
On Getting Self-Reliant

Sometime around the middle of this month, I tossed a piece I’d been writing on and off for a while. That’s not something I generally do. Part of what I love about essays is the process of writing myself into—and then out of—a corner. Or to work with a slightly more claustrophobic image, since that’s […]

Open Letters Monthly, August 2014

August 26, 2014 – 5:29 pm | 0 views
Open Letters Monthly, August 2014

It’s the last week of August, the last week (perhaps) of unstructured summer reading, and the perfect time to investigate the August issue of Open Letters Monthly, if you haven’t yet. Or even if you have. It’s a fine way to say farewell to the month, the summer, maybe a long stretch of unemployed indolence… […]

A Brief Respite from Longlist Fatigue

August 23, 2014 – 10:22 pm | 0 views
A Brief Respite from Longlist Fatigue

Right around this time of year, I run out of things to say about book awards. By now all the big literary competitions have either come and gone or at the very least announced their finalists. Some, like the PEN fiction awards, have already voted in winner sbut like to ramp up the suspense by […]

Letterforms Outside the Box

August 13, 2014 – 10:08 pm | 0 views
Letterforms Outside the Box

I discovered hand lettering in sixth grade, one rainy day poking through my mom’s studio in the attic. She had a little graphic design business on the side—on the side of what I was never sure, but between that and the darkroom in the basement it gave her every excuse not to engage with my […]

Letterforms Outside the Box

August 13, 2014 – 10:08 pm | 0 views
Letterforms Outside the Box

I discovered hand lettering in sixth grade, one rainy day poking through my mom’s studio in the attic. She had a little graphic design business on the side—on the side of what I was never sure, but between that and the darkroom in the basement it gave her every excuse not to engage with my […]

Beyond “Ass in Chair”: Poets & Writers’ “Writers Recommend”

August 12, 2014 – 12:17 pm | 0 views
Beyond “Ass in Chair”: Poets & Writers’ “Writers Recommend”

Well, hello. We’re back from a brief midsummer break—thanks eternally to Terry Weyna for holding down the fort—recharged, we hope, and refreshed, with all sorts of good things to share. As much as the labor-of-love aspect of blogging can feel like a liability, it’s unquestionably nice to be able to walk away from something for […]