One word: plastic. Benjamin Braddock as The Graduate in the 1967 film may not have been at all interested in it. Meanwhile, America has swooned to the seduction of plastic after finding a generation ago that “cheap oil” could be made into so many versatile, colorful and inexpensive tools, toys and trinkets. Every year, about 300 billion pounds of plastic are produced around the world. And the best thing about plastic we discovered since the sixties is that it is practically indestructible. And maybe …

Plastics Are Forever Read more »

So here we are, the parental empty-nesters, sandwiched once more on the late spring calendar between Special Days for mothers and fathers. Our adult offspring (the term we substitute in recent years for the word “children” when describing our small but matured brood) live far away and it’s easy to misplace even the memory of the satisfaction and anguish of having actively, presently, physically been someone’s parent so long ago and far away. Now I will readily confess that I have a curmudgeonly and …

A Poem for Father’s Day Read more »

For any of you thinking of getting a book published, or know someone who is, consider this: Success can be failure. Let me explain. I sat in the audience of a panel discussion in Galax on Saturday. Editors from JF Blair, McFarland, and Norton and one highly-successful NYC agent (a Galax native!) discussed the world of publishing. I took the opportunity to ask a question, whose answer I anticipated would hold interest for other authors in the room. “Given a self-published book that has …

Of Remotely Possible Interest Read more »

If I portray the days of my youth as somehow different and better, more free and more open than these, I suspect I’ll be blamed for both selective memory and maudlin sentimentalism. But I have just returned from a visit to my boyhood home of Birmingham, Alabama, and can’t shake this sense of sadness and loss, convinced that city life where I grew up was, once upon a time, slower paced, friendlier, and far, far safer than today. In conversation with a librarian near …

A Teachable Moment in a Climate of Fear Read more »

April 26, 2006, and there they were at last. Ann and I watched as the delivery truck lowered the burden at the back door, just as it began to rain. Then there it sat: a plastic-swaddled pallet of 28 cardboard boxes, 48 books per box: my books, finally born, real and shrink-wrapped in threes. Very quickly the first case was opened and a few books spread out on the table in front of me. And in that first hour, I knew both the beaming …

Slow Road Home: A Year Old Today Read more »