Darwin’s Fox

Darwin’s Fox

When I was growing up in Ireland, magpies had an evil reputation. In contrast to our liking for robins, blackbirds, thrushes, and other common birds, magpies were reviled. They were considered rogues, condemned as the criminal element of the avian world. Accordingly,...
The Empty Space in Front of Your Hand

The Empty Space in Front of Your Hand

“Don’t you think it a strange coincidence, he says, that every man who’s skull’s been opened had a brain?” – Rosmarie Waldrop, Reluctant Gravities Michel was an old and charming man as only an old and charming painter in a Parisian...
On Quality

On Quality

I call it the Yeats effect, and sometimes the Chekhov effect or the Elizabeth Bishop or Philip Larkin or Alice Munro effect. To me it represents a standard of literary quality that is widely, even universally, agreed upon. One hears Dickens faulted for his...
Every Job in the World

Every Job in the World

What I want is the income that really comes in of itself, while all you have to do is just to blossom and exist and sit on chairs.                                                                       – Robert Louis Stevenson, letter to Henry James   My friend...
Things I Hate

Things I Hate

Days that are sunny but cold. Because no one likes being lied to.   Curtis Mayfield. Because if one more person tells me they adore Curtis Mayfield, I swear to God.   Other people named George in the same room as me. Because the neck seems like something...
Face

Face

Kirk Nesset has no face. It’s not just that his page is erased; he has lost face in every way imaginable. He has resigned tenure. His passport is suspended. His computer is monitored. He will probably lose his dog—a mini-pomeranian he cradles in a sling. He may go to...
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