“Making Memories”

        Travel ads urge us to “make memories.” So do friends writing birthday messages and marriage counselors trying to squirt a little glue into the breakage. Not the sentimental sort, I used to find all that a little Hallmark-icky, somewhere between planned motivational fun at a corporation and newsletters that tell you […]

Pushy Marketing

        Ads and fundraising asks can be enchanting, if they are creative, heartfelt, or done with a certain wry sensibility. But all I feel lately is badgered. Am I just cranky, or does anyone else feel it too? Not just the rushing stream of bad news and violence, but the ratcheted up […]

We Are All Becoming Conspiracy Theorists

        My husband has an excellent track record. When authorities were seeking two men from the Middle East for the Oklahoma City bombing, Andrew said, “It’s probably some White militia.” When I brushed off parental outrage about a gay teacher, he insisted on accompanying me to a PTA meeting that turned out […]

Frank Lloyd Wright Drew Them a Nice Little House

    Imagine you are Russell Kraus, a glass artist. Your wife, Ruth Goetz Kraus, graduated from Washington University’s law school, which is rather remarkable for a woman born in 1904. She is eight years your senior; you met working on a WPA project and have been crazy in love ever since. It is time […]

Turning Away From Abstraction

        A headline in caught my eye: “Turning Away From Abstraction.” I scanned eagerly. Alas, Emmanuel Iduma was not announcing a trend. His piece was deeply personal, and he was using a Fauve painting to reflect on writing—which can, indeed, be a wild and beastly practice. Even so, representational art, so […]

What the Humanities Reveal

      My husband once sat in a faculty meeting at a university north of here. Cold coffee in front of them, the senior history profs stroked their beards and waited their turn to bemoan the uselessness of their discipline. They were shocked a few months later when the sciences received a bigger chunk […]

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey Are Looking Brighter

        A confession: twelve years ago, I passed up a Walter Mosley book because it did not sound like his usual edgy, sharply intelligent adventure. I love his honesty, his refusal to trade humanity for fancy flourishes. But I also love the characters: the lucid wit of Socrates Fortlow, the laidback sexiness […]

This Is Not About Chat GPT3

      Tempting as it would be to go back to that celeb chatbot and ask if it expected such a flurry of attention, I need a breather from all these human-interviews-the-AI stories. Alternately fascinated and terrified, wowed and cynical, I have finally settled down to the kindergarten-level realization that it is smarter than […]

King of the Road

        James Eads How was the grandson of James Buchanan Eads, designer of the world-famous Eads Bridge. James Eads How lived as a hobo. His bindle (bedroll) was a black and white buffalo plaid, tied to a stick. At least, that is how it was represented in Warehouse 13, a science fiction […]

Turn Every Page

        Pity Lizzie Gottlieb. Daughter of one of the finest book editors of the twentieth century, she is fascinated by his prickly but immensely fruitful relationship with Robert Caro, one of the most influential historians of the twentieth century. She wants to make a documentary about that relationship. Neither man will allow […]