The Sun-and-Moon Book

The Sun-and-Moon Book

When my daughter was three, in those young mothering years of just her and I, the vibrant autumn days when we walked along our Vermont dirt road, picking knotty apples from wild roadside trees, and out of sheer rural loneliness I wished for someone to stop and talk, I...
Retrograde

Retrograde

11. Your mother dies. Your family members kneel around her bed in the living room, the hospice nurses in the background. You envision this scene as an oil painting by Poussin, Botticelli. Woman at Rest. People say that when a person expires, their spirit can be...
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 Mark,...
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