Category Archives: Nonfiction

H Is for Hawk

I sometimes struggle to define and describe good writing at the sentence and word level. I can work out what makes a plot click along well or what strong characterization looks like. But with excellent word-smithery, the best I can do is … Continue reading

Posted in Memoir, Nonfiction | 9 Comments

Crazy Brave

Joy Harjo is a Native American (Creek) poet and musician. I’ve encountered her poetry in a couple of different contexts, and it’s always tough and interesting, so I wasn’t surprised when her 2012 memoir, Crazy Brave, was not your usual … Continue reading

Posted in Memoir, Nonfiction | 2 Comments


In October 1972, a group of rugby players from Uruguay, along with several friends and neighbors, were flying across the Andes to Chile when their plane crashed. Seventy days later, sixteen survivors were rescued. This is a well-known story, perhaps one … Continue reading

Posted in Nonfiction | 4 Comments

The Old Ways

I recently reviewed Robert Macfarlane’s book, Mountains of the Mind, which is part personal essay and part cultural history. It asks a number of questions about mountains: What is it about mountains that draws us? How do mountains shape us? … Continue reading

Posted in Nonfiction, Travel/ Exploration | 9 Comments

A Thousand Miles Up the Nile

Amelia Edwards went to Egypt in the winter of 1873-74. She was already known for her novels and for a much-anthologized story called “The Phantom Coach,” and she intended to write about this trip. But what she saw changed her … Continue reading

Posted in Classics, Nonfiction, Travel/ Exploration | 11 Comments

All the Single Ladies

When it comes to books about singleness, I’m pretty hard to please. But as a single woman in her 40s, I would like to see myself in books about the single life, and I’d like to see some sort of complexity in … Continue reading

Posted in Nonfiction | 19 Comments

This House of Sky

Ivan Doig’s memoir about his childhood and adolescence in rural Montana, This House of Sky, is an interestingly angular book, all joints and rough skin and knobby knees. This comes from the two driving forces of the book smashing together: … Continue reading

Posted in Memoir, Nonfiction | 9 Comments

The Force of Spirit

A few years ago, I read Staying Put, a collection of personal essays by Scott Russell Sanders. That collection had a sense of coherence around the same theme: what does it mean, to a geological place, and also to the … Continue reading

Posted in Memoir, Nonfiction, Short Stories/Essays | 4 Comments

Masculinity in Breaking Bad

If you happened to see me in September 2013, you might have had a hard time escaping a conversation about Breaking Bad. I came to the show late, starting it not long before the final half of the final season aired and … Continue reading

Posted in Nonfiction, Short Stories/Essays | 4 Comments

Mountains of the Mind

For years, I’ve been a lover of the literature of exploration. I’ve read many books in which men (and some women, but mostly men) hurl themselves at intemperate climates and impossible peaks. In Mountains of the Mind, Robert Macfarlane goes … Continue reading

Posted in History, Memoir, Nonfiction, Travel/ Exploration | Leave a comment