Sunday, February 26, 2012


A few months ago I took a writing workshop with Sarah Braunstein, author of The Sweet Relief of Missing Children. At the time, I hadn't read the book, and because the workshop was only a couple of days away, I satisfied my curiousity by reading her short story "Driven" ( on the Five Chapters website (a website I really enjoy and highly recommend for other stories as well).

I loved the story. The pace, the character development, the end (oh! the end!).

Eventually I got around to reading the novel, too. (The workshop, by the way, was fantastic. Braunstein is a generous and encouraging teacher.) The novel was beautifully written, and there were parts that took my breath away. But then, I didn't feel like the end was enough--it simply left too much unresolved for me. Maybe because I read the story first (which seems to have been taken more or less directly from the novel) and I so loved it, I was hoping for a few more threads to be tied up.

I'm very much looking forward to Braunstein's short story in an upcoming issue of Ploughshares.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Art of Fielding

Thanks to a long weekend, I finished reading The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. I loved this book! As ashamed as I am to admit it, when I saw how thick it is, I hesitated. But, my wonderful librarian assured me I'd love it so I picked it up. And I was not disappointed.

This is an incredible feat of writing--a novel that somehow comes across as old-fashioned in voice and the sweep of characters, and yet, there are modern issues tackled. All of it done with humor and grace and such well-rounded, well-thought-out characters you find yourself rooting for them, even if, like me, you have never been a big baseball fan.

This is a baseball book, and it's not. It's so much more than that. It's one of the best books I've read this year, one that will stay with me long after my thin grasp on bunting has faded.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Monica Wood

Monica Wood is one of my all-time favorite writers. I'm not a big non-fiction reader, but I'm eagerly anticipating her new memoir. In the meantime, I read this essay and I was floored. Because I have a very dear friend who has cerebral palsy, I understand the challenges of making someone's disability true and real, without taking away their individuality. There's such a danger in making someone appear like a least, it's the thing I fear most, and the thing I have not been able to grasp in my own essay-writing.

Monica knows just how to do it. Read her essay here:

I'd love to hear what you think!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Those of you who know me know I love, love, love the short story. The Center for Fiction is a great website for many short stories, from people you know and people you've never heard of. And, it's also a great resource for writers.

The above link is for Ann Hood's story "Hum." This is my kind of story. Character-driven, family-oriented, a little dark, with crisp, clear dialogue and images that will stay with you for a very long time. I think it's just about perfect--I'd love to hear what you think of it!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Lost Memory of Skin

Every once in a while I come across a book that is so good, so well-written, and so disturbing I don't know what to say about it. Russell Banks' The Lost Memory of Skin is that book for me these days. About a convicted sex offender, this book is a tough sell. And yet, Banks does what he does best: reveal the underbelly of society in a way that makes a reader root for the most undesirable characters. Maybe I'm drawn to this kind of writing because my characters somehow always meander off into the unlikeable (so I've been told). Or maybe I'm just drawn to really, really good writing. This book made me laugh, and cry, and want to take some kind of social action. It definately made me think more sympathetically about people who are marginalized. And yes, I think this book will be a hard sell. It's not a light read and some of it is disturbingly graphic. But for those of you looking for something honestly good, and provocative, and eye-opening, read this book.