CategoryBlog

Four Years Pass

Here’s a three-word sentence from Philip Roth’s American Pastoral that has always stuck with me: Five years pass. He opens several sections with it. This comes after we find out that Swede Levov’s teenage daughter has just murdered a bystander while setting off a bomb at their hometown post office. The line doesn’t jump things forward, though. It stops you when you first...

On resistance and fiction

We just wrapped up watching The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel.  The show is gripping, stressful to watch, and full of great performances (none more so than Elizabeth Moss as Offred/June).  The early episodes in particular are just brutal. [Spoiler alert, by the way, for anyone who hasn’t watched the show or read the book.] I’ve never...

Fellow travelers

Last week I was in Vermont for the MFA winter residency.   Halfway through the residency I got sick–with the flu, as it turned out, and I think the adjective I’m looking for here is “virulent”–and I was pretty exhausted, physically and otherwise, by the end of the trip.  I was just simply lonely, too, and missed Abbe.  It’s great to hang out with friends and...

Hallelujah

When we talk about something being in the wake of something else, we’re alluding to the waves behind a ship moving along the sea.  To be in the wake of the ship is to be left behind, to be caught up in the disruption of its passage. Of course wake can mean other things.  It’s also the ritual of putting someone or something to rest.  Or it’s the rising from a dream, or a...

A post-election wish

Like everyone else I’m looking forward to the election being over.  In my life I don’t think there’s a been an uglier campaign season, or one that’s made me more disheartened by the American electorate.  I don’t think I’m in the minority here. I’m a Clinton supporter.  I voted for Obama in 2008.  I think Clinton is the best candidate this year...

Saunders on Trump, and writing

This is from George Saunders’ latest New Yorker piece, chronicling his days on the campaign trail talking with Trump supporters and protestors: The tragedy of the Trump movement is that one set of struggling people has been pitted against other groups of struggling people by someone who has known little struggle, at least in the material sense, and hence seems to have little empathy for...

July in Vermont

Actually June and July.  Just got back yesterday from the 10-day MFA residency at Vermont College of Fine Arts.   Exhausting but fun. Montpelier is tiny.  I went running almost every day — partly because I like to run, partly because the dorms are hot and the beds are punishing in the cruel-and-unusual kind of way.  I’m pretty sure I covered every street in Montpelier by the second...

Irrational inspiration

Recently Abbe and I went to the beach for the week.  It was wonderfully and kind of terrifyingly remote.  A good place to write, I hoped (although it was really a working vacation). Sometimes I think I’m a loon.  Three years ago we went to the Outer Banks and I wrote one story (“Jellyfish”) and came up with the idea for another (“Grandfather Vampire”).  They...

America, First

Others, more eloquent than I, have called out Donald Trump for invoking the “America First” slogan on the campaign trail.  The slogan was a prominent cry among WW II isolationists, including Charles Lindberg, who (in particular) stoked anti-semitic rhetoric as an excuse for staying out of the war. I’m anti-war myself, on principle.  But I get that there are times when we have a...

The dystopian non fiction world

Reading tonight, in the Washington Post, about people in Denmark being prosecuted for giving rides to migrant asylum seekers.   Just the latest in what seems to be an endless string of stories about European countries — mostly driven by far-right politicians who have seized control — turning away from those fleeing oppression in Syria and elsewhere. And obviously the stories...

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