Showing posts from April, 2023

About That Life: Barry Lopez and the Art of Community

My new book About That Life: Barry Lopez and the Art of Community has now been published by Punctum Books as an Open Access work, which means there is a free PDF and the paperback is published at a reasonable price. The book's copyright is replaced by a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license, giving everyone the freedom to copy, share, and remix the work for noncommercial purposes. This summer, I'm going to play around with alternate forms myself (at the very least an ePub file for ebooks, but maybe also an illustrated website). About That Life was not going to be a book. I began writing it moments after I learned of Barry Lopez's death on Christmas Day, 2020. Lopez had been my workshop leader at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference in the summer of 2000, and he really changed my approach to life and especially to writing. I wanted to write a short article in his memory, and I especially wanted to share the writing exercises he h

The Necessity of Nightmares

I do not think of myself as a sadistic person. I have been, at heart, a pacifist from my teenage years. I was a strict vegetarian for 13 years because I did not want to benefit from the suffering of animals, and even now, an omnivore, I only occasionally eat meat. I have spent a lot of my professional academic career working against the cruelty that often pops up in education. I believe that anger is a poison and kindness is the only sure guide to ethical behavior. And yet ... I love it when readers of my stories tell me they were disturbed, unsettled, uncertain, discombobulated — and I especially love it when they say, "Your writing gave me nightmares." For instance, a friend who picked up an advance copy of my new story collection at the AWP Conference texted me: Reader, I love this reaction. Like laughter at comedy or arousal at pornography, a nightmare is an involuntary response. In their own ways, such responses are the ultimate praise for the work because they do not