Fact-checking Lewis

Re-reading C.S. Lewis is always something of a trip for me, since I started reading him at such an early age; too early, in fact, to understand up to half the words he used. I remember reading his list of titles to impress one of my younger siblings, pronouncing “Nephew” like “Nep-ew,” and deciding thatContinue reading “Fact-checking Lewis”

Terse editorial

Editors want writers to blow their socks off lyrically, yes. They also want them to be informative, relevant and concrete. These are two opposing sides to the same coin. The coin may land face-up or face-down, depending on the publication, but most often, the two sides should spin in a silver whir, scarcely distinguishable. InContinue reading “Terse editorial”


I went home this weekend and discovered that I have been editing mutlilingual publications for, not one month, but 12 years. Sorting through an old box, I came across a collection of Botkinville Heralds, designed, paginated, hand-written and hand-illustrated by a youngish me, detailing small vignettes in the life of our family. They came outContinue reading “Heralding”

Guidelines for writing argument essays (and for living life in general)

1. Act charitably to all men and women, especially when dealing with differences of opinion. There are intelligent people out there with hugely varying views. I guarantee it, some of your opponents are smarter than you. A yelling match will not win them over. 2. Be clear about what it is that you’re saying. FindContinue reading “Guidelines for writing argument essays (and for living life in general)”

Arguing by rote

My English 102 students are supposed to be constructing argumentative essays. They come in to meet with me, as scheduled, with handwritten outlines and typed-up introductions. They want to argue about wolves, educational policy, abortion, technology, gun control. I sit across from them… the minimal age difference seems acutely obvious, this close… and ask whatContinue reading “Arguing by rote”

Making aesthetic judgements about grape taffy

I have a specific taste and consistency lingering on my tongue: Sticky, vaguely brackish, fructose-esque. It is better than the memory of the grape cough drops I was forced at a young and impressionable age to hold in my mouth to alleviate illness: a cure, in my mind, more distasteful than the malady. This lingeringContinue reading “Making aesthetic judgements about grape taffy”

Companion to Shakespeare’s sonnets

In honor of long-standing argument that I am going to win one of these days — if the telling of it or the moral itself is of more value; not that these must be mutually exclusive. The beauty of Shakespeare’s originals, I’ll warrant you, however, surpasses these moralistic reductions as the first of May surpassesContinue reading “Companion to Shakespeare’s sonnets”