Essays and Memoirs
Why I'm Saying No to Self-Publishing Print E-mail

TS SF 2019 Izanami 2

(Zero Readers March 31, 2024)

I’ve been on a journey the past five years that some writers who come tantalizingly close to publication know all too well. From 2018-2022, I worked on a novel, paid thousands to a professional editor, another thousand for a lawyer’s opinion of my legal liability, and landed a big-time agent whose name will be familiar to most authors in Southern California. As I went, I cut a seven-hundred-page monster down to four-hundred with solid guidance from the New York editor and the all-star agent. They read long drafts, suggested sizeable changes, pushed me to drop characters and deepen scenes, and commended my rewrites. I treasured the agent’s encouragement and tenacity, in particular.

Eat & Read (Autofiction) Print E-mail

derrida cat

(Write or Die, December 6, 2023)


I have a friend, no, a good friend, no, a devoted friend who, whenever a month elapses between our get-togethers, he emails me with a date to go walking, the same walk we always take in a beautiful, tourist-laden southern California coastal town beside the Sunset Limited Amtrak and Coaster rail line, ending up, hot and sweaty, our knees aching, at a vegetarian restaurant.

Still Unsettled in the Promised Land Print E-mail

s l1600(Los Angeles Review June 1, 2023)

GENESIS • One hundred years ago, the most fearsome cultural critic in America was Edmund Wilson. Writing in 1931, Wilson noted in an essay that even though the Great Depression ravaged the country, “Americans still tend to move westward, and many drift southward toward the sun.” With economic displacement rampant, he thought our “westward expansion” had come to a “standstill.” Nowhere was this more tragically apparent than in San Diego, which he visited in 1930, the city where I’ve lived since 1982. With 150,000 people at the time, Wilson named it, inelegantly, “the jumping-off place.” What was it, he wondered, that magnetizes people to move here and feel suddenly unmoored? At first, the cause eluded him. But one consequence was clear: the suicide rate.

The Blues Aesthetic of Albert Murray (AWP 2022) Print E-mail

AM(Panel on Writing & Music, AWP, March 25, 2022)

The Blues Aesthetic of Albert Murray

To say that Americans in the 2020s are suffering from our tribal divisions is nothing new. But what of the divisions based in our hyphenation: African, Asian, Hispanic, Native, and the dwindling majority, white? These identities range from economic to ethnic to racial and extend further to gender and sexuality. But for each assembly there’s another category: the Other, the caste of that which your group is not. Such as Black is not White; Asian is not Native. And so on. Then there’s a third identity, which we might label trans: those who prefer an amalgam, a yesteryear phenomenon, the American. This singular cohort makes the most sense to me as a critic when I talk about the art of music and the art of writing about music

The Multimedia Art of Chauvet Cave Print E-mail

chauvetpan(3QuarksDaily July 12, 2021)

In 1994, Chauvet cave was discovered near the township of Vallon-Pont-d’Arc in southern France. The cave is a spectacular venue for the earliest known rock art made by our ancestors and in no way “primitive.” Deep inside the limestone cavern are hundreds of highly animated wall paintings of bison, bear, ibex, lion, rhinoceros, hyena, wooly mammoth, and horse, “signed” by the red-ochre handprints of the artists.

On Cezanne's "The Card Players" Print E-mail

Cezanne The Card Players Barnes(3QuarksDaily June 14, 2021)

Not long ago, in Philadelphia’s Barnes’ Foundation, I stood close enough to touch Paul Cezanne’s monumental, “The Card Players.” I was mesmerized how paint, texture, composition, and pose achieve an almost granitic-like intensity—three burly men around a table, cards in hands, another man holding a pipe and looking on, and a fifth, a feminine boy, his eyes downcast, echoing and softening the self-absorption of the men before him. The standing man and boy are witnessing the huddle of the three; the two standing invite us to witness the subject and its witnesses, a triangulation of viewer, inner viewers, and inner seen. A painting with its audience internally present and, thus, externally implied.

Affinity & Ambiguity: Writing & Music Print E-mail

continuity arthur dove(The Nonconformist April 5, 2021)

I want to be an honest man and a good writer.
—James Baldwin

My affinity for language is a given. But how it was given — and revealed more than other affinities that may have had it out for me as well — is a mystery I’m trying to solve. My hunch is that an affinity for words was present at birth, then snapped-to early on by seductive teachers who assigned adventure narratives and lyric poems, and later the stories of Stephen Crane, the novels of Thomas Hardy, the poetry of Robert Frost and Edna St. Vincent Millay (her marquee name was a poem in itself).

<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>

Page 1 of 16