Nature, Buddhism, and Philosophy from Gretel Ehrlich

Book review: Islands, the Universe, Home, by Gretel Ehrlich (Amazon / Book Depository)“Some days I think this one place isn’t enough. That’s when nothing is enough, when I want to live multiple lives and have the know-how and guts to love without limits. Those days, like today, I walk with a purpose but no destination. Only then do I see, at least momentarily, that most … Continue reading Nature, Buddhism, and Philosophy from Gretel Ehrlich

Family, Race, Violence, and the Calculations Made to Survive

Book review: Survival Math, by Mitchell S. Jackson (Amazon / Book Depository) Sirens scream (for who else in the world but you?) in the distance. In a prose style unlike any I’ve encountered before, Mitchell S. Jackson, novelist and writing instructor at New York and Columbia Universities, writes a memoir of his life and tumultuous upbringing in Portland, Oregon. His story is interwoven with those … Continue reading Family, Race, Violence, and the Calculations Made to Survive

Poet Ross Gay Writes His Delights

Book review: The Book of Delights, by Ross Gay (Amazon / Book Depository) It didn’t take me long to learn that the discipline or practice of writing these essays occasioned a kind of delight radar. Or maybe it was more like the development of a delight muscle. Something that implies that the more you study delight, the more delight there is to study. A month … Continue reading Poet Ross Gay Writes His Delights

English with Style and Humor: Random House’s Chief Copy Editor on Lessons Learned

Book review: Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer (Amazon / Book Depository) Never thought you were the type to stay up late reading a grammar and style guide, dissolving in laughter every few pages? I thought I wasn’t either. Allow this book to prove you wrong like it did me. Random House chief copy editor Benjamin Dreyer is … Continue reading English with Style and Humor: Random House’s Chief Copy Editor on Lessons Learned

Culinary Visits with Literary Mentors

Book review: The Traveling Feast, by Rick Bass (Amazon / Book Depository) I decided to take a break from writing and go on an extended pilgrimage. I set out traveling the country (and in one case Europe) to visit writers who were mostly a generation older than I am, the ones who helped me become a writer trained outside a university. Sometimes they helped me … Continue reading Culinary Visits with Literary Mentors

Joan Didion and the Blues

Book review: Blue Nights, by Joan Didion …there comes a span of time approaching and following the summer solstice, some weeks in all, when the twilights turn long and blue…suddenly summer seems near, a possibility, even a promise… you find yourself swimming in the color blue: the actual light is blue, and over the course of an hour or so this blue deepens, becomes more intense … Continue reading Joan Didion and the Blues

How the Message Got Made in Obama’s White House

Book review: West Winging It, by Pat Cunnane (Amazon / Book Depository) This year and last have seen a wave of newly published memoirs from former Obama staffers. I read speechwriter David Litt’s wonderful, charming Thanks, Obama last year, so after that I was on board with the genre. West Winging It begins with a similar premise – young college grad Pat Cunnane stumbles into his first “real” job … Continue reading How the Message Got Made in Obama’s White House

The Art of Losing It All

Book review: The Rules Do Not Apply, by Ariel Levy (Amazon / Book Depository) Until recently, I lived in a world where lost things could always be replaced. But it has been made overwhelmingly clear to me now that anything you think is yours by right can vanish, and what you can do about that is nothing at all. New Yorker writer Ariel Levy’s memoir was … Continue reading The Art of Losing It All

An Obama Speechwriter On Work, Country, and Getting Things Done in the White House

Book review: Thanks, Obama by David Litt (Amazon / Book Depository) Few activities offer less upside than a staring contest with the president. But now, having started one, I didn’t know how to stop. I considered averting my gaze, like a shy maiden in a Jane Austen novel, but that would only make things more awkward. I kept looking at President Obama. President Obama kept looking … Continue reading An Obama Speechwriter On Work, Country, and Getting Things Done in the White House

Roxane Gay on Hunger in Its Many Forms

Book review: Hunger, by Roxane Gay (Amazon / Book Depository) The story of my body is not a story of triumph. This is not a weight-loss memoir. There will be no picture of a thin version of me, my slender body emblazoned across this book’s cover, with me standing in one leg of my former, fatter self’s jeans. This is not a book that will … Continue reading Roxane Gay on Hunger in Its Many Forms

Real Life Essays with a Little Raunch

Book review: We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, by Samantha Irby Samantha Irby is the Chicago-based blogger behind the popular, ultra-honest, hilariously confessional blog Bitches Gotta Eat. She opens her personal essay collection with a piece about how she’d fill out an application to be a Bachelorette contestant. It’s a pretty wonderful, hilarious introduction, and you can imagine what you’re in for with her from there. Her … Continue reading Real Life Essays with a Little Raunch