Joan Didion’s and Barbara Kingsolver’s thoughts on short stories

It’s funny — aspiring writers are often encouraged to write short stories as a way of developing their writing skills, beefing up their portfolio, and making a name for themselves. What I’ve begun to learn, though, is that short stories actually have a higher level of difficulty than longer works. I always had trouble staying … Continue reading


Yes, Your Majesty: how Jupiter Ascending FINALLY gave girls a sci-fi movie all their own

Jupiter Ascending was the best Valentine’s Day present I could give myself. Understand, my romantic/sexual interest in Channing Tatum is a flat zero. But I would still gladly accept him, in his wolf-eagle-hybrid incarnation, as my personal bodyguard. The eyeliner is also a must, because I believe all men should wear eyeliner. Compared to my last … Continue reading


Important books I read when I was too young and so they made no impression on me (or, the wrong impression)

The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe Macbeth, by Shakespeare Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradburn 1984, by George Orwell The Stranger, by Albert Camus Night, by Elie … Continue reading


What is success for a writer? (With reflections from Tim Parks on the ambition of aspiring writers)

I found this excerpt from the “Writing to Win” essay thought-provoking: Every year, I teach creative writing to just a couple of students. These are people in their mid-twenties in a British post-graduate course who come to me in Italy as part of an exchange program. The prospect of publication, the urgent need, as they … Continue reading

reflective / sundry

Charting violent deaths through A Series of Unfortunate Events

Book One: Beatrice and Bertrand Baudelaire die/are murdered in a house fire/arson (off-screen) Book Two: Monty Montgomery is murdered by poison (off-screen, though the body is seen) Book Three: Josephine Antwhistle is murdered by leeches (off-screen) Book Four: Dr. Orwell dies accidentally by stepping in front of a giant lumber saw (on-screen-ish; witnessed by the children) … Continue reading