Wednesday, January 25, 2012


But now I have come to see that [belonging] proposes an enormous labor. It is a spiritual ambition, like goodness. --Wendell Berry, "The Long-Legged House"

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thank you enhabiten for leading me here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Today's Menu

Today's Menu: "what the world will look like when all the water leaves us," stories by Laura van den Berg

Drinking: said water that will someday leave us

Thinking: why is it that some books snag our hearts the very first time we glimpse them? I first saw this book a year ago while browsing on-line, and without having read a word, wanted it. Needed it. Kept thinking about it. Added it to every book wish list I scribbled in random places. I loved the cover photo, and the searing intensity of the title. But what else was it? How did I know it was the one I needed to read?

Here's what Benjamin Percy says on the back cover: "There is a special magic in the writing of Laura van den Berg, a damp-eyed sorceress who blends the mythological with the everyday, bouyant playfulness with lacerating sadness. Each sentence reads like a beautiful bruise smeared across pages as pale as the bodies that so often strip off their clothes and tangle together in these tender, elegant stories." I couldn't have said any of that better. The key words: mythological, lacerating, sadness, beautiful, bruise, pale, tangle, tender.

And because I read these stories between the bookends of The Best American Short Stories of 2011, it brought me additional insight. There were many stories in that collection I did not love. These ones? I loved. Continue to love. And when we find the things we love, shouldn't we try our damndest to to learn from them? Here is the list I scrawled in pencil on the inside of the back cover of Laura's astonishing book while reading:

What I want in a story:

things unsaid
things unknown
questions that sprout
political relevance

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Margaret and I

I'm most happy to say that a story about Red Heart the Ticker's new album, "Your Name in Secret I Would Write," aired on NPR's Weekend Edition this morning.

You can listen to the story here.

And you can read various pieces I wrote about Margaret and the recording process here at woodbird: just click on the subject heading "Margaret MacArthur" at the bottom right of this page.

Thank you so very much.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

Today's Menu

Reading: Best American Short Stories of 2011, edited by Geraldine Brooks

Drinking: Chai

Thinking: I'd love to read these stories with others. So far (I'm five stories in) I've been slayed by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi's "Ceiling," Megan Mayhew Bergman's "Housewifely Arts," and Nathan Englander's "Free Fruit for Young Widows." They're the ones I can't get out of my head. Rich with time and place.

And my dear teacher Jess Row's story "The Call of Blood" is coming up: one I already know I love.

But what I find myself craving? A little more quiet, subtle beauty. Transporting tenderness.