Archive for Writing

Fiction or Non-Fiction?

I’ve forgotten what M was reading, but years ago, when we were newly together, I asked her whether she preferred fiction or non-fiction. The answer came quickly, “No question,” she said, “I don’t have time for fiction.” Just the facts, Jack. Since then our tastes and preferences have evolved, but at the time it signaled a startling difference between us.

We were both early readers, but I didn’t hit my stride until I encountered John Steinbeck in high school. M, on the other hand, was a voracious young reader. So were her parents, and they encouraged her. Anything with pages was OK. Kids books, Book of the Month Club selections, historical novels…especially those with a little romance. She was a late bloomer and hid in books. When she did bloom, she used them to hide from me and all the other bloom-snatching high school predators. read more

Ms. 2.0…

On the 50th anniversary of Ms. magazine, the cover article of the New York Times Sunday Review was, “The Feminist Malaise: Where is the women’s movement when we need it most?” Included were three articles reflecting the movement’s diminishing vitality. Ms. captured the zeitgeist of a time now past but has been replaced by other isms – Trumpism, racism, fascism, authoritarianism and others. For years it drew our attention to “feminist” issues, but change is the only constant over time. read more

Have We Passed the Point of No Return?

I am profoundly sad today. Yesterday, the country I love, the country I served, and the liberal democracy I believed in revealed itself to be under the thumb of an ultra-conservative, self-serving minority.

I remember the racist backlash when Michelle Obama told a 2008 primary campaign audience,

“For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country, because it feels like hope is making a comeback … not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.”

I too was proud – for the same reason. We were about to elect an African American, running on a platform of “hope and change,” to the presidency of the United States. I was all in. read more

Teaching the Truth…

Several high profile lightweights are throwing their weight around these days. A podcaster, a primetime “influencer”, the son of a dead president’s dead brother, and a scraggly bearded QB who misled teammates and the NFL about his vaccine status. All have contributed to the spread of misinformation and the disgraceful manipulation of audiences hungry for the truth in these perilous times.

Yes, Joe Rogan, Tucker Carlson, RFK Jr. and Aaron Rogers are pedaling misinformation about the efficacy of the coronavirus vaccine. Never-mind them. Forget Spotify, Fox News, and other fringe podcasts. Something even more dangerous is happening at school board meetings across the country. It’s about books. It’s about teachers. It’s about parental and social responsibility. read more

Give Her the Last Word…

She’s been leaving us since 2003. She invited us to watch, and today she took her final breath. Joan Didion was the consummate detached observer. In the beginning, her strength was cultural commentary, reporting on-site in the Haight-Ashbury during the 1960s flower power/LSD days (Slouching Toward Bethlehem). Then we were allowed to ride along while Maria Wyeth aimlessly roamed LA’s freeways and mentally unraveled in Play It as It Lays. But her writing didn’t become painfully personal until the sudden death of her husband and writing partner John Gregory Dunne and the subsequent death of her daughter Quintana Roo. It was as if she couldn’t help scratching the open wounds of loss (The Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights). Since then, we’ve morbidly watched as Parkinson’s Disease shriveled her body and flattened her once animated face. read more