A Place to Take Refuge

As a child, I wasn’t allowed to watch much television. Books were my main source of entertainment—and a relief and distraction from the conflict around me. I was embarrassed that I didn’t understand my friends’ conversations about the shows they watched, though I tried to pretend I did and I caught glimpses at their houses whenever I could. I often . . .

Read more

A Hope for Tenderness

I don’t keep a journal, but I occasionally write down my dreams and some quick reflections. Looking back through them this week, I was sad–-if not surprised—to notice how often I wrote about my desire to spend less time on social media and my frustration with myself for not having better self-control. I know the sites and apps are made . . .

Read more

The Passing of Joan Didion

Anyone who knows me or read my blog during the years it was most active is probably aware that Joan Didion was one of the authors I revered most as a young writer and someone whose work I continued to follow over the decades with an interest bordering on reverence. Spending a short time with her in her apartment for . . .

Read more

Time and TIME

Before I realized I was writing a nonfiction book about my ancestors, I wrote what ultimately became the second chapter of Ancestor Trouble as an essay for a reading with Alexander Chee at the KGB Bar. I’d been trying and failing for a couple years to write about my great-grandfather, Charley, and his story at last took a preliminary shape as I scrambled to put together something new for that night.

Read more


You might want to subscribe to my free Substack newsletter, Ancestor Trouble, if the name makes intuitive sense to you.