Category: Book Talk

  • some poetic shock of intensity

    some poetic shock of intensity

    Mid-September, my husband falls from the lowest branch of the hemlock tree beside the kitchen – twenty feet! – and breaks his leg. Beastly tree! Beastly ladder. The latter splayed where it has fallen, the unnatural diagonal, the beastly orange of it all – until my brother in law disposes of it. The ladder is chekhov’s gun where suburban dads are concerned, a truth so predictable it became something of a joke. At night, I tell the boys scary stories. I make them up on the spot, or weave spooky elements to existing skeins of stories. Once upon a time, there were two boys who lived with their parents in an old white house on the top of a hill. Perry, ever the anticipator, writhes, twists his blanket, tenses, moans. “Should I stop?”  “Keep going.” “The house overlooked a lake – ” “What does overlooked mean?” “The house was at the top of the hill; at the bottom lay a large lake that was always exactly the color of the sky above.”

  • Goodness, Deconcentration, and the Great Concavity

    Goodness, Deconcentration, and the Great Concavity

    Easter, 2014. I put on a chartreuse dress and lilac suede sandals and Brady and I go uptown to my great aunt’s where we eat mille feuille from Lady M and drink probably too much white wine out of small, weighty hock glasses. On the way home I get off the subway two stops early and walk through Boerum Hill. It’s one of those slightly hard-edged robin’s egg spring days and I’m cloudy from the wine and a dread more existential than the standard sunday scaries. There’s a Quaker meeting house on the corner of Shermahorn and Boerum Place, a handsome red brick affair I’ve walked by countless times without registering its purpose but on this day I do. It cheers me immensely because Quakers don’t believe in god but they do believe in good and I think that if I concentrate more on trying to be good I won’t feel as bad about not liking my job and not knowing where and if my writing is going.
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  • Just a chapter and not the story itself

    Just a chapter and not the story itself

    A second birthday, a third maternity leave. A second August and most of September in our new old house. Great rains sometimes fall / evening cicadas sing /dew glistens white on grass / swallows leave. This is the week that thunder ceases (more is expected this weekend). Like that, the baby is two months old. Like […]

  • Inaudible as dreams, or: thoughts on discursion and A Life’s Work

    Inaudible as dreams, or: thoughts on discursion and A Life’s Work

    The first thing that occurred to me, as I watched the woman strike the child, was that surely I was not the only witness. A limpid, early summer evening, on a cul-de-sac of tightly spaced houses — surely other families were watching, from their back patios, their screened porches, their postage stamp front yards. At […]

  • codes so subtle that they change their whole meaning in half a line

    codes so subtle that they change their whole meaning in half a line

    A year and a day ago we packed up our car and drove to Vermont. For a day it was spring and then for a long while it was winter. That period feels like the airclay I got my son: you can mound it up or flatten it out or stretch it loooong. A year […]

  • every memory is turned over and over again

    every memory is turned over and over again

    My dog died, and a week later, my second son turned one.  I got Gita the year I turned sixteen. A quid pro quo, with the quo my being kinder to my mother’s boyfriend. A smart negotiator, I asked for the quid upfront, and rapidly abandoned any attempt at the quo.  I found her in […]

  • Unreal Cities, or Love in the Time of Corona

    Unreal Cities, or Love in the Time of Corona

    A month ago, there was a murder on our block. The memory of the incident feels very fresh, still, and surreal in the way that events that you haven’t conceived of happening do.  Our block is a longish one, but the murder happened only a few doors down, across the street from the playground where […]

  • Still in the Published City, or Revisiting My New York Canon after the Birth of My Second Son

    Still in the Published City, or Revisiting My New York Canon after the Birth of My Second Son

    We arrived home after our annual Northeast Regional Christmas late last Friday. We were overladen with gifts (Our car, which had seemed quite a nice size a year ago, struggled mightily to hold two car seats and their respective occupants, a small dog, all said respective occupants’ lounging and sleeping gear, four suitcases, many, many […]

  • School Ties (or, the Campus Novel as a Counterfoil to Yet More Motherhood)

    School Ties (or, the Campus Novel as a Counterfoil to Yet More Motherhood)

    One of those heady, grey days. Wind gusts up to 55 miles per hour. The maple leaves outside my room are dancing like mad. The little kids at the school behind me have finished recess; the bigger ones at the school across the street are still going strong. It’s loud — a torrent of yips […]

  • A million words for bath-pruned skin

    A million words for bath-pruned skin

    Pregnancy, to me, is like holding my breath: the longer it progresses, the harder it is to concentrate on anything besides its eventual end. My son has cropped up at the edge of the bed, one hand curled around the ancient Motorola cell-phone, long dead, that he carries with him everywhere. He is slurping on […]