Out of Body

My funny wife uses a term, “out of body,” which refers to that immense quantity of movies and stories that involve visits from beyond the grave, time travel, vampires, ghosts, mind-readers, talking animals. The list goes on. Because she is more discriminating and...

Book Report

The story I’m working on is stubborn. I’m almost at the forty thousand word mark and I still don’t know what the thing is about. What’s more, I don’t know what that means. One possibility is that it will turn out to be a very long book, something that will try the...

The Old Animal

In his darkly humorous moments my father put forth the notion that human beings amounted to little more than an elaborate alimentary canal. Our task, he maintained, was to worm our way though an embarrassing quantity of food until we, in turn, became food for worms....

Play

Hanging in our kitchen are two prints by Jack Vettriano. They are well known. In one, an elegantly dressed couple is dancing on sand flats near the ocean. In attendance are two others, perhaps a butler and a maid each holding dark umbrellas against the evening wind...

A Narrow Road

In his short book, The Educated Imagination, Northrup Frye lucidly offers some ideas about what literature is (and is not) and what uses we might make of it. It is an interesting project not because stories are likely to vanish from our culture, but because it is not...

Keys

In response to a study that suggested that reading literary fiction might improve one’s social skills, novelist Louise Erdrich said, “Writers are often lonely obsessives, especially the literary ones. It’s nice to be told what we write is of social value.” However, I...