Archive for Books

Tangled Roots…

Do you ever wonder about your ancestry? Do you know how and when your family came to America? Is there any strange fruit hanging on your family tree? Einstein? Al Capone? Sarah Bernhardt? What do you really know about your family’s history?

Are you a true American? Probably not; Elizabeth Warren’s recent DNA test confirms that she is, because her ancestry links back to those who inhabited North America before 1600. They’re the only true Americans. The rest of us are immigrants or descendants of immigrants. Even Donald Trump’s tangled roots are buried in one of those “shithole” countries in Africa he likes to disdain. read more

The Act of Becoming…

Today, I’m sitting in a book-filled room at Folio, the membership-based, non-profit library that’s been my writing home for the last two years. Every Tuesday and Thursday I ride the bus from home in Kenmore to downtown Seattle and settle in, free of homely distractions, for a day of writing. No dishes to wash, mail to retrieve, rugs to vacuum, trash to empty, or decks to sweep.

For the past nine years I’ve tried to approach writing as a full time job. Try is the key word. Even here at Folio there are distractions. I sneak looks at Facebook, peak at incoming email, or dreamily watch the Bainbridge ferry crossing to the island. Writers have always complained about how difficult it is to concentrate. Joseph Conrad had his wife lock him in his bare bones study until his allotted writing time was up. Good for writing but hard on the marriage. read more

Am I a Racist?

I can predict the responses when I, a white male, criticize a person of color. “That’s so racist.” “You sound like a closet racist.” “You don’t understand the culture of race.” “You haven’t experienced what he or she has.” “You don’t know what it’s like to be a person of color.” “You can’t understand because of your ‘white privilege’. ”

Almost from the beginning of these conversations I’m on the defensive. I say I’m not talking about race. I explain that I’m talking about a person or a behavior. I’m expressing my opinion that the behavior is unacceptable, or that the person is acting like a jerk or simply out of line, but inevitably I have to defend myself against a charge of racism. read more

The Biggest Art Heist…

Everyone loves the story of a daring art robbery with keystone cops, priceless paintings, a colorful cast of characters, a famous museum, an eccentric collector, and an unresolved ending–as mysterious as an M.C. Escher print.

In literature there are many examples of stories that deliver that mixture of art, crime and mystery – The Art Thief, The Raphael Affair, The Art Forger, and The Faustian Bargain. On the screen, it’s difficult to top Steve McQueen as the art collector and Faye Dunaway as the insurance investigator in Version I of The Thomas Crown Affair, or better yet Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo in the updated Version II. Check ‘em out. They’re still cliff hangers. read more

Who’s Going to Save America?

This is our coffee table last week just before we left for Boston. Messy, but it gives you an idea of how I’m coping with the present and thinking about the future.

It’s taken me 18 months to begin to come to terms with the election of 2016. I wasn’t a fan of Hillary’s, though I knew I could live with her policy decisions. She wasn’t the person I’d have chosen to lead the country but I voted for her because she was the safer choice and thought she would make reasonable decisions in the national interest until someone more visionary came along. read more