Category Archives: Nonfiction

The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature

I am not, in general, a big fan of nature writing. It’s not that I haven’t read and enjoyed any nature writing. I loved, for example, David Quammen’s Song of the Dodo and Monster of God. It’s just that nature writing doesn’t always … Continue reading

Posted in Nonfiction | 9 Comments

Bipolar Faith: A Black Woman’s Journey with Depression and Faith

Monica A. Coleman’s memoir touches on a lot of significant themes: faith, grief, trauma, rape, depression, prayer, race, family, friendship, and history among them. She begins with the story of her great-grandfather who died, it was said, “of grief,” hanging … Continue reading

Posted in Memoir, Nonfiction, Religion | 8 Comments

The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer

In July 1865, a 13-year-old London boy named Robert Coombs murdered his mother Emily. After the murder, he and his 12-year-old brother Nattie attended cricket matches, played games, and went fishing, all the while claiming their mother was away visiting family. When … Continue reading

Posted in History, Nonfiction | 18 Comments

The Givenness of Things

If you’re a regular or long-time reader of this blog, you’re probably aware that I’m a tremendous fan of the work of Marilynne Robinson. I’ve read and loved all her novels, and I marveled at her 2012 essay collection, When I Was … Continue reading

Posted in Nonfiction, Religion, Short Stories/Essays | 3 Comments

What Makes This Book So Great

So, what makes What Makes This Book So Great so great? (Ask me if I’ve been waiting to write that line.) Well, first, let’s get clear exactly what it is: it’s a collection of blog posts that Jo Walton wrote … Continue reading

Posted in Nonfiction, Short Stories/Essays | 18 Comments

Darkness Visible

In 1989, Vanity Fair published William Styron’s account of his struggle with deep depression, suicidal ideation, hospitalization, and eventual recovery. Darkness Visible: a Memoir of Madness is an expanded version of this piece, beginning with a trip he took to … Continue reading

Posted in Nonfiction | 11 Comments

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again

Last year at about this time, I read Consider the Lobster. It was my first encounter with David Foster Wallace’s writing, and I discovered with surprise and pleasure that he writes absolutely incredible, delightful, kick-ass essays. Why surprise? Well, I … Continue reading

Posted in Nonfiction, Short Stories/Essays | 7 Comments

Greetings from Utopia Park

Claire Hoffman received her first mantra when she was just 3 years old. Her mother practiced Transcendental Meditation and brought up Claire and her brother, Stacey, to do the same. Periods of meditation, often during quiet play, were part of Claire’s life … Continue reading

Posted in Memoir, Nonfiction | 6 Comments

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 | 12 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