Category Archives: Datebook

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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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“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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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Happy Birthday, Jane Gardam!

Happy birthday to Jane Gardam, born in North Yorkshire in 1928, and still going strong at age 86. I’ve left plenty of traces of my own Gardam fandom, with a piece in Bloom and a note in Open Letters Monthly’s Year in Reading for 2013. But for years she felt a bit like a secret-handshake […]

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In Search of Lost Fireworks

July Fourth is one of those Rorschach holidays—it’s pretty much whatever you want to make it. If you’re patriotic, bless your heart, you can celebrate it that way. If you want to go to a party and drink beer and grill, there’s plenty of opportunity for that. You can just kick back and enjoy the […]

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The Resurgence of Poem in Your Pocket Day

I’m enormously gratified to be celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day once again on this bright and blustery spring day. Not that it ever went away—it’s been happening cheerfully every year, with or without my participation. But the stresses of academic life had distracted me for the past couple of years, and I managed to […]

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Yes, D.E.A.R.—Drop Everything And Read Day

You didn’t actually have plans for the weekend, did you? Saturday is the birthday of Beverly Cleary, author of Henry Huggins, Ribsy, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, and the Ramona the Pest books, among many, many others. And yes, she’s still with us—going strong at 97, and an honest-to-goodness national treasure, if you ask me. […]

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