Sand in the Gears

It doesn’t come with a parking spot, but it’s still pretty darn nice

Thursday, December 5th, 2013 Posted in The Artful Life | 3 Comments »

The good people at Image Journal have named me their artist of the month. I like being reminded that writers are artists, and I'm honored to be included among the many fine artists—of all stripes—who have been similarly recognized by ...

Against being against epiphanies

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 Posted in The Artful Life | 1 Comment »

Some of you may like my latest essay on the Good Letters channel at Patheos. It covers everything from Oliver Stone to a young Whittaker Chambers, with a slight dose of literary criticism mixed in. Here's an excerpt: I’ve been reading ...


Wednesday, June 5th, 2013 Posted in The Artful Life | Comments Off on Uninterested

Finally, fiction from me that doesn't involve death or melancholy or predestination or anything else likely to induce heavy drinking. It's all dialogue, and I wrote it years ago whilst sitting utterly uninspired and bored in a large corporate bureaucracy. ...

Confederacy of Dunces

Saturday, August 11th, 2012 Posted in The Artful Life | 1 Comment »

"They would try to make me into a moron who liked television and new cars and frozen food. Don't you understand? Psychiatry is worse than communism. I refuse to be brainwashed. I won't be a robot!" "But, Ignatius, they help out ...

Ten Thousand Hours with You

Saturday, January 28th, 2012 Posted in The Artful Life | 1 Comment »

I recently discovered a delightful poem by David Kirby in Five Points, and thought I'd share a snippet of it with all of you: ... and you’d think that’d settle it, that the opera lovers of Tallahassee would let go of ...

On sugarcoating

Friday, September 23rd, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life | 36 Comments »

I realized this morning that part of the reason I haven't written here in so long, the reason I balk at the thought of it, is that I got the most hate-filled letter I've ever received, back in July, in ...

How we bless

Friday, February 4th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life | 2 Comments »

I'm happy to announce that every couple of weeks I'll be writing essays for Good Letters, the blog over at Image. Some of you will recognize Image as one of my favorite literary journals, and so you'll know how honored ...

The written pages

Monday, December 6th, 2010 Posted in Faith and Life | 4 Comments »

I took some time off writing here because I didn't have anything to say. The truth is I went through a spate of those long, dark soul-nights, the kind where you don't sleep except for a few snatches of time, ...

The trouble with poetry

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010 Posted in The Artful Life | 6 Comments »

Adam Roberts begins a five-part manifesto on why you should be reading poetry: "I remember, as a young person, being posed the question, 'what kind of music do you like?,' and coolly, sensibly replying, 'everything but classical!' Now, as a graduate ...

Wise Blood

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 Posted in The Artful Life | 1 Comment »

"She felt justified in getting anything at all back that she could, money or anything else, as if she had once owned the earth and been dispossessed of it. She couldn't look at anything steadily without wanting it, and what ...

Wishing homeward

Sunday, May 16th, 2010 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 4 Comments »

I counted, and I've been in my office a total of fifteen minutes since sometime in April. I've been home maybe five days. DC, New Orleans, Atlanta, Detroit, DC, DC, DC. I suppose they'd all be nice to visit, if ...

Art and criticism vs. the world

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010 Posted in The Artful Life | 1 Comment »

"Like legitimate art, legitimate criticism is a tragicomic holding action against entropy."  (John Gardner, On Moral Fiction, p. 6)

The verisimilar edge

Friday, February 5th, 2010 Posted in Redbox Reviews | 3 Comments »

Listening to a local film critic's tired dismissal of the new film, Edge of Darkness, I was struck by the need, in film, literary, and art criticism just as much as in theological or architectural or epicurean criticism, for a ...

Does this cape make me look fat?

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 Posted in Book Reviews, The Artful Life | 2 Comments »

My friend John Miller brings the smack on modern vampires. This may be a good way to sum it up: if your bloodsucker needs hair gel, he's really just a big thirsty sissy with bad teeth. In general, vampires ought ...

Steadfast to this turn

Monday, January 4th, 2010 Posted in Faith and Life, The Artful Life | Comments Off on Steadfast to this turn

This in memory of Peggy Rabb, who I knew only a little and a little while, but who was all kindness to me. In our first conversation we talked about things I have written and things she has written and ...


Friday, December 18th, 2009 Posted in The Artful Life | 2 Comments »

I just found out I scored a mention in the 2010 Pushcart Anthology for my short story, "Name," which was published last year in Image. And the good people at Ruminate nominated my story, "The Glass Child," for a Pushcart ...

You know he’s neck-deep in work when he busts out the quotes

Monday, November 16th, 2009 Posted in The Artful Life | 1 Comment »

"The seed of our destruction will blossom in the desert, the alexin of our cure grows by a mountain rock, and our lives are haunted by a Georgia slattern because a London cut-purse went unhung. Through Chance, we are each ...

And now for something completely different

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009 Posted in The Artful Life | 3 Comments »

I’ll not forget the charming maid Who asked if I had been flambéed And, seeing I knew little French, Proceeded without pause to drench My clothes with liquids dark and strong, And purred I wouldn’t feel it long, Then closed the door and dropped the latch And ...

Traveling circles

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009 Posted in The Artful Life | 2 Comments »

So what do I have in common with Annie Dillard, Ron Hansen, Kathleen Norris, and Valerie Sayers? We're all in Image Journal's 20th-anniversary anthology, Bearing the Mystery. You should buy a copy.

It’s just policy

Friday, July 17th, 2009 Posted in Curmudgeonry | 5 Comments »

I still get surprised when complete strangers call my office, give only a first name and some financial- or insurance-sounding affiliation, and then ask me to call them back. No information. No "Hey, we met at the ice-cream social and ...

The Glass Child

Monday, June 29th, 2009 Posted in The Artful Life | 5 Comments »

If you're looking for a counterweight to my usual cheeriness, you might get yourself the latest issue of Ruminate, which has my short story, "The Glass Child." Here's the opening paragraph: This is the blood, David tells himself. He twists open ...


Thursday, June 25th, 2009 Posted in Faith and Life | 9 Comments »

Sometimes the words don't seem like they'll get close to the truth of anything, and so I just stop writing. That's not completely true; I'll write fiction perhaps, because those people in the stories inside my head haven't yet worked ...


Friday, June 12th, 2009 Posted in The Artful Life | 10 Comments »

Some of you may enjoy my latest Wall Street Journal essay, about modern friendships. In a nutshell: though I have more Facebook friends than my four-year old Isaac, I'm pretty sure that's a poor indication of who is more loved.

Shut it. Literally.

Monday, April 20th, 2009 Posted in The Artful Life | 17 Comments »

Okay, here's the thing. "Literally" doesn't mean "really." It's not a word that you put in front of some other words to show that, unlike the rest of your lackluster sentence, this is the part you really totally completely, like, ...

The Well-Spring

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007 Posted in The Artful Life | 4 Comments »

I have an arrangement with myself, which is that I can only have a Starbucks hot chocolate (two-percent milk, no whipped cream) on cloudy days, or on Sundays when I catch the early service at a different church, or on ...

The Good, the Bad, and Flannery

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007 Posted in The Artful Life | 17 Comments »

I'm in the midst of a writing frenzy at present, so for your reading pleasure I present an excerpt from Flannery O'Connor's "The Nature and Aim of Fiction," which may be found in the volume of her speeches and essays, ...

Gioia on Cultural Decline

Thursday, August 9th, 2007 Posted in The Artful Life | 6 Comments »

Since literature seems to be the theme this week, check out Dana Gioia's speech delivered at Stanford's commencement exercises. Some highlights: "There is an experiment I'd love to conduct. I'd like to survey a cross-section of Americans and ask them how ...

A Son’s Tale

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007 Posted in The Art of Parenting, The Artful Life | 2 Comments »

My writer friend Darren Defrain recently turned me on to Andre Dubus, and so I've been working through his stories and essays. He has, as another writer friend describes it, a lyrical voice. You can see faith in his stories, ...

Christian Fiction IV: The Weaning

Sunday, April 15th, 2007 Posted in The Artful Life | 2 Comments »

Well, I let a week of things that pay the bills get in the way of writing my fourth and final installment on this topic, and I think I've lost my steam. Or maybe there's just nothing left to say, ...

Christian Fiction, Part III: Bad Writing Is Evil

Friday, April 6th, 2007 Posted in The Artful Life | 6 Comments »

After I discovered Leif Enger's Peace Like a River, I breathlessly recommended it to my friends. I could barely disguise my disappointment when some said it was "too slow," or "hard to get into." I love them all the same, ...