It’s hard to say where stories come from. It’s a sort of archaeological game that we tend to play if we’ve ever taken a literature class and made the wildly speculative assumption that such origins exist. The online journal Failbetter.com published my novella @SharkGirl79 earlier today, so I guess if there’s a moment to spendContinue reading “Searching for Shark Girl”
Category Archives: Fiction and Books
The Steeple Chase – part I
I’m going to share the best thing I learned in graduate school. It’s an exercise called the Steeple Chase and and it’s tailor-made for dilettantes.
Five fictional villains endlessly more fascinating than Donald Trump
Michael Shannon is an actor known for his talent for playing complex and often malevolent characters, so it was interesting to consider his response when he was…
Old books and ecosystem services
How libraries are like coral reefs.
Five books that helped me survive 2016
Five books that I read in the past year that changed the way I think.
A visual storyteller’s guide to active consumption
How to keep yourself on the active side of the consumption equation.
What to read this summer: recommendations from writers who teach
A pair of fiction writers and teachers offer their summer reading picks.
Zester Daily – Burgundians dig deep to face climate change
I returned to Burgundy for the first time since writing my novel Vintage.
Libraries are awesome
“I’m waiting to check your book out at the library,” someone once told me. I wanted to tell him to just go out and buy it. But I didn’t. And I’m glad. Here’s why.
Balancing career and calling: insights from three writers
Balancing writing and literary careers can be precarious and challenging. Here three writers give their take on how they wrangle a “bi-vocational” existence.
Three books to read in celebration of Véraison
You’ve heard about summer reading lists, but what about books to celebrate véraison? Here’s my take on them.
“Nostalgic” is a short story I wrote as background when brainstorming ideas for a music video collaboration for the song The Wind Kept by Brave Julius, which we produced in 2012-2013 and premiered at the Whiteside Theatre on March 16, 2013. Santiago Uceda directed the video and more artfully and imaginatively executed the concept in a wayContinue reading “Nostalgic”
Writing in strange places
Patricia Ann McNair holds some measure of responsibility for the fact that I still write stuff. I’m not sure that she deserves praise or derision for this dubious honor. But in all truth, she’s the sort of selfless writer who can be a mentor, friend and teacher, all the while passionately pursuing her own craft.Continue reading “Writing in strange places”
They slouch across oceans, across borders, have been for years, leaving a trail of footprints, litter, hope, the occasional corpse. They descend on our fields, neck-deep in crops dusted with pesticides, the spore of new construction, bringing life to otherwise dying small towns in Kansas. Many have the audacity to bring their families, to stay,Continue reading “The Immigrants”
About six years back I figured I’d stumbled across the great secret to writing fiction, in particular to writing a novel. I remember I was sitting at a cafe on the north side of Chicago with my friend Bill, another struggling writer-type. He’d just read a draft of a novel I’d completed and had someContinue reading “Plowing Through”
A bullshit artist looks at forty
Here I am back in my hometown of Chicago, slouching toward the birth of the new year, the year in which I’ll hit the big four-oh. Maybe it’s too soon to start in with the hand-wringing that usually accompanies the reaching of the rough middle point of one’s journey across this great green and blueContinue reading “A bullshit artist looks at forty”
Gutenberg, iPhones and “Far Beyond the Pale”
Update – 08-11-10 – ReadWriteWeb offered 5 reasons why paper books are better than eBooks. Kobo offers a host of free eBooks including every classic you’ll ever need to read. It’s been at least ten years since I first started thinking seriously about eBooks and getting excited about the idea. I had a Palm PilotContinue reading “Gutenberg, iPhones and “Far Beyond the Pale””
Thief of Books: A review, sort of
I just finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, which was a runaway success a few years back that I somehow missed. But then I’ve always been a few steps out of tune with pop culture. It was recommended to me by my sister, who has outstanding taste in books despite being a Republican. WeContinue reading “Thief of Books: A review, sort of”
The Foster Child
She’s six years old and has three failed adoptions and suffered a number of smaller atrocities, but now she’s sprinting up the beach against the wind, clutching the pink leash of a borrowed Labrador, the wind swallowing the frantic shouts of her foster mother and the dog’s owner. She strains cold air through her teeth,Continue reading “The Foster Child”
Why he writes: Part II of a Q&A with novelist J. Adams Oaks
Any reader who is also a writer understands that questions will rattle in your head as you wend your way through a work of fiction. Unlike regular readers, you can’t simply be subsumed by story, sinking into the world that the author has labored to create. Like a retired engineer you have to kick theContinue reading “Why he writes: Part II of a Q&A with novelist J. Adams Oaks”