Category: Writing

The Kindness of Strangers

The recently published anthology, “The Kindness of Strangers” (Wising Up Press), contains dozens of interesting perspectives on one of humanity’s best (and seemingly rarest) qualities. We’re quite fond of the prose-poem “Take Care of Each Other,” on page 59. But we find ourselves returning to the book’s introductory essay, by co-editor Heather Tosteson, whenever we...

Kasher in the Rye

Onstage, the celebrated stand-up comic Moshe Kasher is self-assured, commanding, and blazing with intelligence. So accomplished (and justly celebrated) is he as a comedian that it’s sometimes hard to reconcile the juvenile delinquent author-narrator of Kasher in the Rye, his 2012 recovery memoir, with the smooth-talking raconteur in performance. Can this really be Kasher’s childhood? Two...

Dying for a Cause: The Termite Squad

We all have  to die some day. Most of us will be completely forgotten not long after we perish, as though we never existed. Even by our families. How often do you discuss your great-great-grandmother? Your great-grandmother? Many of us don’t even know the names of these people, let alone their accomplishments/exploits/passions. Even with the...

The Leak You Weren’t Supposed to Hear About

Comb through Wikileaks carefully enough and you’ll stumble over United States Government documents that make you wonder, “Can this possibly be real?” You realize why the people who run our government want to keep their programs secret: when something is so outlandish that it makes the average citizen think “they’re making this up,” it’s probably easier...

Tenth of December

George Saunders writes stories about regular people who aspire to be better. Better fathers, better husbands, better achievers. They almost never succeed. Their heartbreak, their delusions — this is the crux of Saunders’ work, and although his stories are laugh-out-loud funny, they’re never cruel. He writes about America — about us — with unwavering compassion....

The Biology of Story

Warning: If you’re a literary-minded person, you must handle “Biology of Story” with care. The project, an interactive documentary that explores Story as a living being, is ambitious, enormous, and possibly comprehensive. Once you dip into the oceanic trove of filmed interview segments, it may be several hours (or days) before you emerge from the...

All the Light We Cannot See

Anthony Doerr’s sprawling 2014 novel “All the Light We Cannot See,” is the rare work of art that succeeds in being both transcendent and popular. The book has won several major prizes and sold phenomenally well to what’s left of the reading public, pleasing consumers and critics in equal measure. The plaudits are warranted. Doerr’s...

Advice to Self and Poets in General

When confronted with the immensity of the ocean crashing against La Jolla cliffs craggy like Ireland and the island of Islay refrain from attempting to describe the waves and sky and gulls and wind and salty spray as a poet might using nouns as verbs “the sea lips the shore” “the pelicans wing the coastline”...

The Areas of My Expertise

The short title of John Hodgman’s 2005 book is: The Perfect Bathroom Companion. True, as it lends itself to random visits of indeterminate length. The complete title is: An Almanac of Complete World Knowledge Compiled with Instructive Annotation and Arranged in Useful Order by myself, John Hodgman, a Professional Writer, in The Areas of My...

Katie Bull

On her fifth album, “All Hot Bodies Radiate,” Katie Bull continues to redefine the concept of “jazz vocalist.” She’s no chick singer. Bull’s instrument, her voice, isn’t extraordinarily powerful, plangent or peculiar, and she doesn’t project conservatory-trained technique and tuning. Yet her work mesmerizes and invites repeated listening. That’s because Bull is a singing poet, a writer...