Welcome

This website is a bit of a catch-all for me. It’s a commonplace book where I jot down quotations I like. It’s a place for posting photos. And it’s a digital file draw for writing of various sorts, some of it humorous.

If you’d like to learn a little about me, read my About page.

For a links to publications, read my Writing page.

And to give you a sense of my interests and whimsy, here’s a consideration of Denise Levertov’s poems about St. Thomas the Doubter, and here’s an improvisation I wrote blaming the last recession squarely on poets. (I like poets and poetry. Some of my best friends are poets, and I read and write about poetry a lot. This is simply a humorous sketch.)

Oh, and here’s a collection of recipes from Julia Child’s cookbook from her days in the OSS.

Comments? Drop me a line.

Looking Back

Late spring to summer and now into late summer. How quickly it goes. Plunging again and again into weeks. The shoreline changes. Clouds arrive. The temperature drops. The beach tapers to a cliff.

Mise en place

It occurred to me the other day that doing research for fiction is like setting out a mise en place. You’re laying out ingredients so that you can use them at a moment’s notice, without fuss. There’s no rooting around, no hunting. Everything you need is right where you need it, ready for use, during the moment of creation.

Peter Schjeldahl on Goya

“Rarely consummate in the ways that we associate with great art—Goya cranked out lots of so-so pictures—he is an outlier’s outlier in the canon. His legacy isn’t a commanding body of work but a homing beacon for worried people in worlds that are subject to unpredictable changes, perhaps suddenly and soon. Goya knew the problem and let slip the solution, which is to keep in mind that there is no solution, only an immemorial question: Now what?”

– Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, “Goya and the Art of Survival

Parul Sehgal on the Work of a Critic

I love this. It makes me think of not only Sehgal herself but also Cynthia Ozick, Dwight Garner, and V.S. Pritchett.

I don’t think about criticism in terms of authority. I think about it in terms of charm and persuasion, which anybody can possess. Your authority is in your sentences, in your lede, in how attractive your own prose is. To be a critic is to say, “Try sitting next to me.” That’s the conspiratorial nature of criticism. If you love particular critics, it always feels like they’re talking to you.


The Cut: How I Get It Done: Parul Sehgal, Book Critic