Channeling Jane Barnes


 

In August, Charlottesville author Jane Barnes published her third book, Falling in Love with Joseph Smith: My Search for the Real Prophet. She has written for films and publication and has two novels: I, Krupskaya, and Double Lives. Falling in Love with Joseph Smith is her first full length work of non-fiction. She describes the book as a spiritual memoir wrapped around a biography of Joseph Smith. Though the book has landed fortuitously in the middle of the “Mormon moment,” it has nothing to do with either Mitt Romney’s campaign or the Book of Mormon, the long-running Broadway musical. Her passions … Continue reading Channeling Jane Barnes

A Cover of Contempt


 

Just about the worst thing a book jacket designer can do is, in my opinion, depict any of the characters on the cover. It seems almost a cruel thing to do, like he’s stealing imaginative power from the reader before the reader even gets to open the book. Story writing, by its nature, engages the imagination, but the imagination loves shortcuts, and any cover-art with a character in it is like a pizza delivery guy showing up when the author has spent hours cooking up a gourmet meal of prose. (Now, if you’ll please forgive that … Continue reading A Cover of Contempt

Cultivating Obsession


 

  The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. So it’s time to come clean: I have an addiction to notebooks. I am a danger to myself if left in a stationery store. I buy them whether or not (most often not) I’ve filled the ones from previous purchases. There is an entire box in the closet of my study that is nothing but empty notebooks. This peccadillo is perhaps made all the more shameful considering I do most of my “real” writing on a computer. I am a creature of the … Continue reading Cultivating Obsession

The Poet’s Buzz


 

I recently took a short trip to the beach to escape “buzz.” Do you know that sensation I’m referring to? Not the hum of a summer fly trapped in your kitchen, more like a ubiquitous sensory and informational shower of input. There’s almost too much to process out there, and “out there” is bigger than ever before. We’re wired in and logged on; there’s a new image or report coming from every direction each minute. [frame align=”right”][/frame]Upon returning to the beach after 12 months away, my intense fascination with seashells swelled. I embraced my inner … Continue reading The Poet’s Buzz

What To Do in The Dark

Celestial Navigation, c. 1958
 

  Who knows what people will do in the dark. After several days of lights flicking off and on this summer, I was somehow reminded of the cigar boxes long stored on the laundry room shelf. I’d collected these boxes at least a decade ago with the fantasy that I would some day fill them with intriguing ephemera in the tradition of my inspiration, artist Joseph Cornell (1903-1972). Within the confines of small, graceful chambers, Cornell created intimate environments that were magical, mythical, playful, sensual, scientific and searching. They were also beautiful. Cornell’s imagery drew … Continue reading What To Do in The Dark

A Wider World


 

[frame align=”right”] [/frame]The first American best seller was Susan Warner’s Wide Wide World, a saga of tears and redemption that appeared in 1850. It was eventually outsold by Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but only just. It’s not surprising that this best seller – and many a follower – was written by a woman. While women had no foothold in the professions – law, medicine, college teaching, scientific research, indeed, higher education itself, were virtually closed to all but that remarkable few who had supportive and indulgent parents (which is to say, fathers) or other male protectors. … Continue reading A Wider World

Author Interview: Kristen-Paige Madonia


 

I first met Kristen-Paige Madonia two years ago. Her writing is forthright and honest. It is this earnestness that stands out the most, employed to great effect as a penetrating light to plumb the depths of her characters’ inner lives, motivations, and secrets. She was kind enough to sit down with me to talk about her debut from Simon and Schuster, Fingerprints of You, which will come out August 7. The novel centers around Lemon Williams, who has bounced from place to place, led by her peripatetic mother, Stella. After she becomes pregnant, Lemon buys a Greyhound … Continue reading Author Interview: Kristen-Paige Madonia

Derecho


 

[frame align=”right”][/frame]I missed the most recent big weather event in Virginia, the wall of wind storms that swept through several states, tearing down trees and power lines. As a child spending summers in the Mississippi Delta I was always perplexed when my uncle and aunt, cotton and soy bean farmers, would demand immediate quiet the minute the weather report came on the TV. A solemn silence, an almost sacred dread and expectation, filled the room. In recent visits, I have noticed a square computer like machine, called a data transmission network that relays weather pattern … Continue reading Derecho

The Internet: The Air Conditioning of the 21st Century


 

Up until a few days ago, when it was returned in a glorious shower of shooting stars and singing angels, the internet connection at my house had been out for about a month. I suppose its absence could have been an opportunity for reflection, an exploration of what life is like without an electronic leash, without an instantaneous connection to the larger world, but mostly it was just annoying. I couldn’t check my email … so I just did it at work. I couldn’t download things … so I just did it at a coffee shop. … Continue reading The Internet: The Air Conditioning of the 21st Century

Power Failures


 

On a wintry late afternoon in the early 1960s, I was driving from Providence, Rhode Island, where I studied at Brown University, to my apartment in Waltham, Massachusetts. I did this three days a week – a ride of anywhere from one-and-a-half to two hours, depending on weather and traffic conditions. Sometimes I took the train in the morning and my husband Darryl would come to pick me up in the afternoon. This seemed a reasonable accommodation to the fact that the one job he’d been offered was in Boston, while my one fellowship was … Continue reading Power Failures

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