I Did Like Butter

It had always been this way. Mothering, for my mother, was a cameo role.

I Thought I’d Be a Movie Director

In the story she was a dripping, chocolate-covered vamp.

I Would Be Happy to Leave This Asylum

Protect your hands. You can always get by if your hands aren’t broken.


Somewhere along the way her husband had gotten scared.

If the River Was Whiskey, If I Was a Duck

They’re not, and it’s not, and we’re not, and only a god can save us.

If You Can’t Say Anything Nice, Write a One-Star Review

No author dodged readers who were indifferent to masterpieces.

In Defense of Ballin’ on a Budget

To get the job, always stay starched, creased to death.

Interior Design and Other Poems

I realized you were my fourth love, and the system was always doomed.

Interlude at Daofu

Daofu was a cluster of lights bubbling up in the belly of a darkened plain.

Into the After

I wondered if the coyotes and deer were mourning the loss of Steve.

Is Glistening

The scent of lighter fluid and tobacco drifted in through the window.

Iscariot and Other Poems

Let those shadows sift the spirits of their children from the silt.

James Salter

The power to alter one’s life comes from a paragraph, a lone remark.

Jayne Anne Phillips Remembers Sam Lawrence

Sam was like family. He was the angel of my writing life in every word.

Jayne Anne Phillips Remembers Sam Lawrence

Jayne Anne Phillips recalls her friend, the legendary Sam Lawrence.

Jennifer Egan

I’ve wavered in confidence, but never on whether I was going to write.


I never left my wife, and she never left me, but this isn’t exactly true.

John Barth, Undergraduate Academic Adviser

Barth looked after his students beyond anything expected of him.

John Lescroart

Jumpseat Stories

There’s something about traveling by plane. People tell their secrets.

Junot Díaz

One of the most important human capacities is compassion.


Do we hunger after conflict as much as we hunger after justice?

Kinam Hotel

Sometimes these fools shoot themselves, playing with their weapons.


He’s got it out. And I say Who’s there right now? Just your ex-wife.


He drew on time, and space, he drew on his powers, and their sleep.


No one in Lagos slouches. Bravado pulsates through the room.


She has beautiful cheekbones, but her eyes are nearly colorless.

Learning to Be Still

All afternoon it rains on the traffic outside my window. It’s nothing new.

Learning to Write

I came to computers while trying to run away from literature.

Lease Hound

There was one lease Homer Young wanted above all others.