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 on … 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

After the Magician by Stephanie Milner


 

Jessie had worked at Meyers Auditorium for six years, by then. When she had started during her fourth year in college (it took five to finish her social sciences degree), she hadn’t planned to stay that long. It had just been a good arrangement. The job paid better than others on campus. She controlled her own schedule because crew members picked which shows they worked. But in any case, she had stayed. She didn’t regret it. She liked how physical the work was. There was equipment to push, pull, and carry. Ladders to clamber up. … Continue reading After the Magician by Stephanie Milner

Chairs by Andy Bockhold

Non-Fiction
 

Andy’s first canoe trip down the Little Miami River was the same day his mother was set to come home from the hospital after a major bowel resection. A week earlier surgeons had opened her up from navel to groin to remove necrotic portions of her lower intestines that had shriveled up like rotten calamari and blocked her from passing anything thicker than water. Once they were finished inside, they cinched her open wounds together and stapled them shut. She now had a train track-like incision complete with railroad ties running down her stretched pink … Continue reading Chairs by Andy Bockhold

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