American Writers on Displays

The Newberry Library in Chicago hosted a 25-hour Moby-Dick Readathon recently. After opening remarks by National Book Award-winner Nathaniel Philbrick, the reading proper got underway, and I jumped ship for a time to have a look at another Chicago celebration of writers, the American Writers Museum. Oddly, the AWM is the first national museum to […]

Melville in Chicago

Chicago has long been a town associated with writers. Look on Wikipedia under “Writers from Chicago,” and there are more than a thousand entries. Some are a bit surprising, like John Cusack. I think most of us think first of Wright, Brooks, Terkel, Algren, Mamet, Sandburg, Dos Passos, Dreiser, Bellow, or Hemingway, and of publications […]

To Try Our Luck in California

Setting forth for the central coast of California, we, a Midwestern couple en route on our first spring break as adults’ post-college, ventured from San Francisco, where we sipped dark roast coffee in the Castro and ate at a cult-following sandwich shop predicated on love and an obscene offering of sandwich toppings. The sandwiches were […]

Aurelie Sheehan: Once into the Night

Aurelie Sheehan’s new book, Once into the Night, is a collection of 57 brief stories, in the form of “a fictional autobiography made of assumed identities and what-ifs.” It won FC2’s 2018 Catherine L. Doctorow Prize for Innovative Fiction and will drop in February. Aurelie is the author of two novels (History Lesson for Girls and […]

Sticking It: Food Edition

Food is a basic human need that can be filled fairly basically—some starch, a nugget of protein, a squeeze of lime to stave off scurvy. But notions about our food get heaped on it, like mangled bacon and garbanzos at a salad bar. Consider food as a test (Eden); food withheld (by the state or […]

In Praise of Not Going Viral

In the foodie world, as in most worlds now mediated online, there is intense pride at having a recipe “go viral.” Samin Nosrat, the delightful author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat and the ensuing Netflix series based on the cookbook, admits as much in her recent confessional-recipe (it is a form, trust me) entitled, “Delicious […]

The Exact Moment Chris Pratt Realizes He Is Rich

You will remember the scene, near the end of the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, when Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) admits to himself, as much as to Nova Corpsman Dey (John C. Reilly), that he is the leader of his gang. “They’ll be fine, Dey,” he says. “I’m gonna keep an eye on ’em.” […]

Frogs get a hop on noise pollution

In an increasingly noisy world, it may seem impossible to find peace amongst the cacophony of busy roads, blaring sirens, and roaring machinery. That is, unless you are a wood frog. New research from Pennsylvania State University shows these pocket-sized pollywogs are becoming immune to the stresses of noise. Compared to their quiet country cousins, […]

Mapping the Desire Lines of Family

I first met Nishta J. Mehra in 2005 when we studied creative nonfiction at the University of Arizona’s MFA program. Her prose was, and is, agile, buoyant while being direct, and strong. She also routinely brought baked goods to our class workshops, and, honestly, you have not lived until you have tasted one of Nishta’s […]