writing

Literary fiction, nonfiction, illustrated works, journalism, essays. Current projects include the following:

Moby Duck: literary novel

Moby DuckThis novel is an ode to Moby Dick (the best American novel ever written), a lament for America, and a love story.

Excerpt:

From the pass we descended into the rolling, windblown, treeless spread of eastern Washington, with it surprise crevices and water-carved canyons, its flocks of white wind turbines scanning the grasslands, its arrays of range- and farmland, thin-wired fences stretching across miles of sameness. Our state was divided in half by the mountains, and the two sides were like different art movements. My eyes blurred from the drabness of palette: tan, taupe, khaki, beige, cinnamon, dust, and toast. Unexpected lakes and rivers appeared as if by coincidence with no clear relationship to the land surrounding them. We came upon a span of blackened terrain, a burnt crust, some parts still smoking as helicopters buzzed about overhead.

Excerpt:

I. W. Taber illustration, 1902
I. W. Taber illustration from 1902 edition of Moby Dick.
What Sukh said often lingered with me and popped up at odd times, much later, when I didn’t expect it. For example, his comment about whistling didn’t hit me until that evening, hours after dinner and after we had walked home. I was flossing in the bathroom. I was looking at myself in the peeling mirror and wondering why anyone, such as Dak or Emily, would care about me. My hair was completely flattened on the sides from the toque, but the side compression had poofed it on top making it look like red flames. There were black smudges under my eyes, like bruises, from fatigue. I had food in my teeth, and my lenses had thumbprints on them. I wasn’t funny or charming like Dak. I wasn’t particularly athletic. I didn’t have a clear vision about my future, a goal or a mission of revenge. I wasn’t theatrical and I couldn’t sing. I wasn’t kind or courageous like Emily. I was even a slow texter.

On top of it, I was marked.


Grammar to Save the World: nonfiction grammar guidebook using politics as a hook

Grammar to Save the WorldWhen Trump won, grammar took on a whole new urgency.

Excerpt:

The Trump campaign slogan Make America Great Again is similarly troubling. The adjective great is a little unclear. Are we talking about U.S. power in the world? Are we talking about the economy? American civil rights? And what about the adverb again? It implies that America was once great before. So what time period is the slogan referencing? Before the 1960s, when Jim Crow laws restricted the rights of African Americans? Back when women couldn’t vote? During the Great Depression? How about the Civil War or the Revolutionary War? How about the good-old days following the Panic of 1873 or the happy times of the Cuban Missile Crisis? Who doesn’t miss the internment of the Japanese or the bombing of Pearl Harbor or the fun-filled days of the Vietnam War? (In case it wasn’t clear, I’m being sarcastic.)

Knowing grammar helps you break down the one liners of your leaders, which can inoculate you against their mind-numbing effect.

Excerpt:

Goebbels had this to say about propaganda:

“The best propaganda is that which, as it were, works invisibly, penetrates the whole of life without the public having any knowledge of the propagandistic initiative.”

Knowing grammar is your defense against the “invisibility” that Goebbels and other master propagandists wield in their war to control the public.


A Knight’s Tale: musical involving muses, a textbook editor, and Muriel Rukeyser

Muse
Your average working muse. From Boeotia, ca. 435-425 BC.
Why not? Also a Senegalese pop singer, a kid escaped from juvie, and a veteran of the Bosnian War.

Excerpt:

“You can’t nail down what’s not been done. You can’t start in the middle.”

“First of all, all I said was if you put a glove on, and touched the glove with your fingers on the other hand, and touched the glove to something, would you leave fingerprints. Also, in addition, I think you can start in the middle. And that’s one of the ideas I’ll fight for.”