On the Re-Reading Life and Vivian Gornick’s ‘Unfinished Business’

Looking over my reading list this past year I saw stellar book after stellar book. Bam, bam, bam, nearly all excellent reads. And then I got to the past few weeks and realized that things lately have been merely fine—good but not great, decent but not deepening. And then I picked up Vivian Gornick's Unfinished … Continue reading On the Re-Reading Life and Vivian Gornick’s ‘Unfinished Business’

Totems

Emerald green leaves with darker stripes like paint splotches, called calithea lancifolia, in a specked, sky-blue pot; a rippled peperomia, the other houseplant I've managed not to kill, purpley green leaves and magenta stems; a beeswax candle that smells of pine; a framed thistle I carried home with me, pressed into a book, from Scotland. … Continue reading Totems

Going Off Book: Quarantine Celebrity-ing, + Notions, Late April Edition

Celebrity-ing While Quarantining During the COVID-19 pandemic, while most of us #shelterinplace, celebrities have been putting out elaborately orchestrated videos to entertain the troops, as it were, and keep up morale. And generally speaking, call me "curmudgeon" if you must, I loathe what feels to me like being pandered to by rich and famous people. … Continue reading Going Off Book: Quarantine Celebrity-ing, + Notions, Late April Edition

Where the Sidewalk Ends: Four Writers on Climate Change and Understanding the Overarching Crisis of Our Time

Exactly one month ago, the sustainability teams at UO hosted WOHESC, a regional sustainability in higher education conference. Attendees included a mix of professionals and students, spending two days talking about everything from putting social justice into practice to the feasibility of widespread nuclear power in the US. That conference moment happened right before everything … Continue reading Where the Sidewalk Ends: Four Writers on Climate Change and Understanding the Overarching Crisis of Our Time

Introducing “Here Today” + New Books

A couple of quick items. First, meet "Here Today," a Medium site devoted to reflecting on daily life during the novel coronavirus pandemic and related social distancing. It features several writers, including myself. Second, if you have the means, throw some love to your favorite local indie bookstore (as opposed to that decidedly not indie … Continue reading Introducing “Here Today” + New Books

Memory, Family, Trauma: The Deep and The Yellow House

On the podcast Still Processing hosts Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham discuss pop culture and life in America circa now. On a recent episode while discussing Wortham's tour of Thomas Jefferson's plantation Monticello, alongside Bong Joon Ho's film Parasite and the HBO series Watchmen, Morris says, "[Black people,] as a people, we are allergic to … Continue reading Memory, Family, Trauma: The Deep and The Yellow House

With a Monkey on Your Back: Patti Smith’s ‘Year of the Monkey’

I finished Patti Smith's newest memoir, Year of the Monkey, within earshot of the Crooked River in, fortuitously enough, Smith Rock State Park. Several birds and an airplane added to the river's babbling. In the morning, M and I climbed, then he went for a run and I hunted up this sheltered spot to finish … Continue reading With a Monkey on Your Back: Patti Smith’s ‘Year of the Monkey’

Inescapable Inheritance: On Dani Shapiro and Complicated Fathers

This post contains spoilers for Dani Shapiro’s memoir Inheritance. “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." — Leo Tolstoy My father filled my childhood with music. An accomplished guitar player, he performed during church worship services and parties, led his brothers in singing around campfires, provided an instrumental constant throughout evenings at … Continue reading Inescapable Inheritance: On Dani Shapiro and Complicated Fathers