Writings

Do you need some advice on finding an agent or applying for an MFA?

I’m flattered that in the past few months I’m flattered to have been inundated with requests for advice about such topics as finding an agent or publisher and when/why/how to apply for an MFA. The advice section of this website features concise, practical thinking on these topics. (And can tell you how—and how not—to request a letter of reference.) I hope it can be of service to my students, former students, readers, and friends. If there’s a topic I haven’t yet addressed that you’d like to see an article on, please message me on my Facebook page. I’ll try to get a response up quickly!



A hypothetical prize for BROOKLAND

Many thanks to Erica Wagner, who chose to write about Brookland in this article for the Folio Prize’s website about books that people would have liked to see win the prize. What a kind mention—it’s an honor to be a hypothetical Folio Prize winner!



YVES GUNDRON is an eBook!


The Testament of Yves Gundron is at long last available as an eBook! So if you haven’t yet read it and would like to do so on your Kindle, Kobo, Nook, or iPad, it’s waiting for you at Amazon.com or via the iBooks app on your iPad or iPhone. You can also still get it in paperback, if you prefer to do your reading the old-fashioned way. Would it be ironic to read this novel about the complexities of blindly pursuing progress on a snazzy piece of technology? Maybe. But I’d like to think that the widespread adoption of these miraculous gadgets makes this book more relevant than ever. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

A few people have asked if Brookland is also available as an eBook. Mais bien sûr! This link will get you to the Kindle edition, and you can also download it via iBooks for your Apple device. Thanks for asking!



A Dialogue with Susan Bernofsky in PEN America


In the current issue of PEN America (#16: Teachers), director of Columbia’s MFA in Translation Susan Bernofsky and I have a dialogue about our practices as teachers of undergraduate and graduate students, and the lessons we bring to the classroom from our own teachers. (Michael Martone, are you reading this?) Although I’m erroneously identified as teaching at Columbia (which is not true this year), I’m proud to be part of the issue and pleased with how the piece and the issue as a whole turned out. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it! (As a side note: Check out the Bill-Clinton-lookalike Vassar undergrad, c. 1958, on the cover!)



Because I Love the Social Contract

I am really proud that my essay, Reason #40: Because I Love the Social Contract, is part of 90 Days, 90 Reasons.

If anyone has come to my site for the first time after reading that essay, welcome; I’m delighted you’re here and glad to meet you. Come say hello on my Facebook page!

And L’shana tovah u’metukah to everyone!



An Interview with Literary Mama’s Caroline Grant

Caroline Grant, the editor in chief of Literary Mama, recently interviewed me for their blog. Topics include lessons I pass on to my students from my high school teachers (Bob Pridham and Cornelia Reid, are you reading this?), the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me in a Latin class, and stuff I’d like to invent if I could be an inventor. If you’re interested, you can read it here.



An Essay in the Threepenny Review!

I am absolutely thrilled to have a long essay in the Summer 2011 edition of The Threepenny Review. The essay, entitled “The Jazz Singers,” is about the three different movies—all iconic Jewish films—by that name. I hope you’ll enjoy it!



A New Piece in the New York Times Book Review

Here’s my review of Michael Parker’s new novel, The Watery Part of the World. The essay ran in the New York Times Book Review on Sunday, May 22nd, 2011—further proof that the world didn’t end on the 21st!



Golems! A Musical


Charles Orr's poster for the hypothetical play Di Goylemim

Charles Orr’s Hypothetical Library is one of my favorite projects on the internet. Orr, a brilliant book-jacket designer, partners with authors, asking them to provide flap copy for a book they could write but never actually will. He then designs a cover for this book, and together they seek a blurb from another real author. In complex and fruitful ways, the Hypothetical Library blurs the distinction between the real, the potentially real, and the pure dream of fiction.

It’s an honor and a great pleasure to have a hypothetical novel newly out on the Library: Golems! A Musical, a campy yet semi-theological story of the Second Avenue theater. Orr designed both a jacket for the novel and a hypothetical poster for the play within the novel, Di Goylemim. And Michael Chabon has been kind enough to provide a blurb for the project.

Please go take a peek!



The Fall of the House of Walworth

I’m delighted to have had the chance to review Geoffrey O’Brien’s wonderful new book, The Fall of the House of Walworth: A Tale of Murder and Madness in Saratoga’s Gilded Age, for today’s Los Angeles Times. As I mention in the review, when I first learned of the Walworths’ lurid family saga, I wished someone would write a good, juicy book about it. (In all seriousness, it puts the Beecher-Tilton scandal—of which I’m a huge fan, if one can be a fan of a 150-year-old lawsuit—to shame.) I can’t think of a better writer to take on the project than Mr. O’Brien. 22 August 2010.



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