Category: Writing

A Secret I’ve Been Keeping

Most of the people I’ve not met who recognize my name “know” me as a book writer, or as that guy who used to be on television blabbering about poker. A smaller subset might know me as the producer and proprietor of jazz records, or even as a former jazz vocalist.  Those are all cool...

Why I Wrote “Reefer Gladness”

My new book, coming out in a couple of months, is about marijuana. Fans of my gambling and golf and dog books have been wondering what gives. Why this? Aside from not wanting to repeat myself, I sought a subject that’s moving to the forefront of our ongoing cultural conversation, a subject about which people...

Planning for the New Year

Those of us who suffer from Horizon Sickness — always looking ahead to the next thing instead of being fully engaged with the present — tend to be excellent planners. We maintain detailed lists; we’re fantastically organized; our desks are neat. We foresee everything.  Sadly, after several decades of insisting otherwise, we must admit that...

Guest Author: “Chapter One”

For the first time in the history of this space, we have a guest author. This person, who must remain anonymous for reasons that will soon be clear, has written what he calls “a report” about extraordinary events in the place where he lives. We’ve read the whole memoir, and it made us cry and...

Recommended Reading

What do writers read when they’re not writing?  Good writing. Great writing. Stuff that earns professional admiration and profound consideration. Thoughtful poetry. Arguments constructed elegantly. Wit. Lately I’ve found myself increasingly turning to the work of three writers, all different, all ingenious in their own way. If you’re a regular reader of this space, you’ll...

On the State of Publishing

How bad is the publishing business? Not even best-selling authors with a consistent record of “earning out” advances (i.e., garnering more in wholesale sales than the amount paid in advance by the publisher) can count on seeing their most current manuscripts make it to print and occupying dear shelf space at Barnes & Noble.  I...

All Atwitter

First MySpace, then Facebook, and now Twitter. The idea of simultaneously communicating with hundreds or thousands or millions of “friends” has gone from clunky functionality to improved efficiency to instant success, “connecting” people no matter their geographic or spiritual distance. Finally, after much fretting and fomenting, we’ve overcome our existential solitude. We are one.  That’s...

The Artist as Saint

His nickname among musicians was “Prince of Darkness.” According to many who claim to have known him well, and according to an accrued reputation bordering on myth, Miles Davis was a jerk.  Based on evidence available for review on YouTube, as well as eyewitness accounts shared anecdotally and personally, Keith Jarrett can be insufferably obnoxious....

Brooding on Death

The remains of my dear friend Ella the dog arrived from the crematorium in a nice fabric-covered box. The ashes themselves were in a plastic freezer bag, which was probably a good thing, since in addition to a fine grey powder there were many pinky-nail-size bone fragments and flakes from the few teeth Ella retained...

Great Writing

Relatives sometimes discover a book that brings them so much enjoyment that they want to share the experience with everyone they meet. That’s cool. Unfortunately for me, most of the books they like, despite glowing accolades from literary critics such as Oprah Winfrey’s intern and the editors at Vogue, are painfully difficult to read, since I...