99 Dreams I Have Had, Every One a Red Heifer: I read “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union”

So I finally read Michael Chabon's novel The Yiddish Policemen's Union, and in spite of its serious flaws, I was still left with that wonderful feeling, Where have you been all my life? Why didn't I read this thing sooner?The novel's delights lie in its setting, its genre, and its prose. The setting is an alternate history in which the state of Israel was never founded, but the United States agreed to resettle Holocaust survivors and other European Jews in the Alaskan territory. So now … [Read more...]

From Girlhood to Sublimity: Watching “The Fits” Again

It is the last dream of children: to be forever untouched.--Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name The AFI Silver theater in Silver Spring is doing this terrific series where they feature movies from the past year that you might have missed. I believe The Witch is later this week and yes, go see The Vvitch, it's vvonderful. (It's vvreally sad!) But what I saw in this series was The Fits, Anna Rose Holmer's extraordinary feature debut. It was the best movie I saw last year and now that … [Read more...]

Toller Cranston Skates for Mexico: A Fever Dream

One reason I loved the Mountain Goats' new album Beat the Champ so much is that it speaks about a kid projecting his own emotional turmoil onto the storytelling sport of pro wrestling, in a way which deeply resonated with my experience projecting my own emotional turmoil onto the storytelling sport of figure skating. If I made my own sports concept album it would be Toller Cranston Skates for Mexico, and it would be about, mostly, the Lillehammer Olympics, which allowed skaters who had left … [Read more...]

From Sarah Ruhl, “100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write”

There were times when it felt as though my children were annihilating me. Finally I came to the thought, All right, then, annihilate me; that other self was a fiction anyhow. And then I could breathe. I could investigate the pauses. I found that life intruding on writing was, in fact, life. And that, tempting as it may be for a writer who is also a parent, one must not think of life as an intrusion. At the end of the day, writing has very little to do with writing, and much to do with life. And … [Read more...]

“In Search of Lost Time”: I review an art show

at the Hirshhorn: I got the idea for how to start this review when I was supposed to be praying.I try to “do” ten minutes a day of contemplative prayer, kneeling and opening my mind and heart to whatever God wants to say to me: shedding my own opinions and judgments, turning away from all screens and distractions. It turns out to be a great way to get ideas for my writing. Not such a great way to surrender to silence and inner peace. The distractions are coming from inside the hou … [Read more...]

Breastfeeding Is a Hell of a Drug

My best friend just had a baby! And so she sends me this poetic thing, which she says accurately reflects her experience: During early days with your baby, when you're not trying to manage a work schedule, enjoy the floating quality of time. Nurse your baby whenever he or she is restless or fretful, without counting minutes or even really giving any thought to time. more … [Read more...]

What Whiskey Goes With Cheese?: I read “The Spectacular Now”

This is just a quick note to say that I read Tim Tharp's Spectacular Now, the YA novel on which the movie was based, and I really enjoyed it. It's the tale of a high-school cutup and ladies' man who's also a barely-functional alcoholic. He's a generous, sweet-natured guy, fairly open about his self-deceptions, and a total cheeseball. The book is sometimes preachy in an authorial way, which I didn't care for, but most of its occasional swerves into preachiness are much more organic--high-school … [Read more...]