James Baldwin and the Art of Empathy

We live in an age of short attention spans and sound bytes, which would seem to suggest shallow imaginations but it might signify something very different: an increased ability to absorb more information in less time. One example of this optimistic interpretation is the fact that we are living in a golden age of poetry.Continue reading “James Baldwin and the Art of Empathy”

If Beale Street Could Talk

Yesterday morning there was a man in the lobby of my office building talking into his phone at an obscene volume. As we rode up in the elevator together – four or five of us – it became obvious that he was not like the rest of us and did not want to be. HeContinue reading “If Beale Street Could Talk”

The Fire Next Time

Anger has its uses. It can be a spur to confronting injustice or a vent for righteous frustration. Anger is like lust: it’s an honest emotion. There’s no time to overthink the impulse. The best you can do is control it and try to deny how insanely good it feels to let it off theContinue reading “The Fire Next Time”

Giovanni’s Room – Sex

  Sex is a difficult thing to write about. Too graphic and it reads like porn, too tame and the writer seems inexperienced or, worse, fearful. The Literary Review gives out an annual prize called the Bad Sex in Fiction Award for lines like this one from 2017 “winner” Christoper Bollen: The skin along herContinue reading “Giovanni’s Room – Sex”

Giovanni’s Room – Paris

  Even though I do it myself sometimes (like now), I have a problem with people who can write fiction when they write non-fiction, because fiction is art and non-fiction is…something else. Non-fiction can tell you the truth, which is important, but fiction does something much better: it points to the places where the truthContinue reading “Giovanni’s Room – Paris”