When I think about the famous crazy writers, I suspect that they didn’t start off crazy. They were very sane to stand as much of it as they did for as long as they did. It is where all the best work comes from.
I can’t write in an authentic voice if I get in my own way, if my own feelings are there, lurking. I have to disappear, not only for the reader, but for myself, and this art of deliberate, practiced self-annihilation gives me the purest, most exhilarating pleasure I’ve ever known.
Poverty invites illness. Growing up, I saw many people afflicted by sickness that kept them homebound, or only able to work between bouts of physical symptoms. We are all somewhat powerless when sickness strikes or an accident occurs. What do poor people, including those who work low-paying jobs, do in such situations?
The ease with which we consume these tiny bites of war’s ultimate violence is as troubling as it is ironic: the frame rate and resolution of real-life war footage pales in comparison to the first-person shooter game my son is playing right now in the next room, yet both have that same pulsating soundtrack and endlessly spooling comment thread.
I had no idea how to begin writing and not be foolhardy. Did I just sit down and start? It occurred to me that I’d been asking my professor for permission, not advice. In my family, people didn’t become writers. It was all right to come up with a nice text bordered with pretty pictures in creative writing classes at primary school, but after that, you shook yourself down, studied—not for...
I studied the explanations of astronomical quadrants and astrolabes and the armilla equinoziale, the armillary sphere of Santa Maria Novella, made up of two conjoined iron rings mounted on the façade that told the time of day and year based on the position of their elliptical shadow, when all at once it occurred to me that I’d wanted to write about something else altogether, about a...
My poetic writing is a carpet. Unfurled, it displays the colorful strands of my linguistic development, regionalisms and academic language alike. The results of this writing are not works of genius, not creations of one singular genius. They are iridescent and ambiguous exposures, spotlights bringing some of the world’s previously invisible facets into focus.
Sergei is a proud, almost ideological beer drinker, but getting drunk for him is secondary to the sacred ritual of inebriated male bonding. In other words, he is sentimental.
A digressive approach gave me the freedom to shape a narrative ostensibly about my “routine surgery” into a detailed portrait of my world and my state of mind during those two particular weeks of my life.
My eldest brother was the only one who wasn’t afraid to voice what had always been so conspicuously absent from the family lore: when Himmler allowed our grandfather to be released from prison, he said, it must have been on some condition.
Experiences of war and violence leave their mark on families over generations. This is not to weigh the suffering of the perpetrators against that of the victims. But a great deal did change in our family—a family, if you will, of perpetrators, or at least on their side.
It is a disorienting time to be gay in the world, in America. Rainbows and “love is love” in one realm, vicious hate coming from another. Some of us celebrate Gay Uncles Day on Facebook while, for others, calling queer people child molesters is a winning electoral strategy. Some of our families love and accept us, and many of our marriages may soon be invalidated in the states...