A Brief Handbook of Revision for Writers

Progressive stages of revision eliminate incidence in favor of essence.

A Distant Episode

The distant past returned—what part of it, he could not decide.

A Final Conversation

I used bravado to protect myself when we lived in poverty.

A Funky Assortment of Plates

The preacher looked me in the eye. He laid his hand on my chest.

A Human History in the Wilderness

My grandfather committed my grandmother to a mental asylum.

A Lebanese Feast

Lebanon’s dreams of a homeland were fading with every rocket launch.

A Life with Bears

I want to focus on bears. On knowing them, and on what they need.

A Lot Going On Up There

The hawk moves out of the way to let a little hot package of breath rise up.

A Matter of Necessity

The survival of our world depends upon the cultivation of better language.

A Partial History of Lost Causes

Chess was a humiliation that hung over him like a leper’s bell.

A Real Writer

Advance planning was never Hank’s strong suit, he had to leave her.

A Short Short Theory

Fiction, no matter how short or long, is the art form of human yearning.

A Small Blip on an Eternal Timeline

I grabbed him by the face and told him life only comes to a person once.

Adventures of a Would-Be Filmmaker

Since I am in my seventies, it is now or never, and I know it.

Advice for a Young Painter

Identify where you came from, where you are, and where you wish to go.

Again, the Body

They taught us do not touch it, but who can keep from touching it?

Agents: The Business of Writing

Art touches the soul and moves life in ways that commerce cannot. E. L. Doctorow noted that writers seem to get business ideas almost right.

Algonquin’s Legendary Editor

The excuse, of course, was that men had to support families.

All Color

We will use my entire bed and all my dishes, make dirty each chair.

All That Floats

Devanand Simon was twenty-five when the bodies fell from the sky.


If everyone’s lost on the roads, you might as well fly. Enjoy your life.


He fell to the floor and begged the gods. The gods were silent.

American Idol

Karen was, in that moment, nothing, emptiness. She was oblivion.

An Abstract of My Research

For one hundred years I followed old people to learn what I was in for.

An Elegy Beginning and Ending with a Mouse

I let the baby mouse live because I cannot kill what has ears.

And Yet Beauty Lives

We are like a village here, separated from the rest of the world.


He was gentle and slow, like a blind man washing dishes.

Ann Beattie

Ars Poetica as Phrenology

When push comes to shove, I can get downright Aeolian on you, son.

As a Girl, I’ve Been Taught

Women should hate it when people whistle at their backs as they walk past.