A Brief Handbook of Revision for Writers

Progressive stages of revision eliminate incidence in favor of essence.

A Common Story

“I think he does not care for art; I fancy he has not even read Pushkin.”

A Day in the Life of Woman Cartoonist

I'll rid the world of bad things. But first, I need to get more coffee.

A Final Conversation

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

A Fragmented Diary in a Fragmented Time

We take our solace, in a time of malaise and mourning, in the close-at-hand.

A Letter to Robert Pinsky

We caress the rough. Sensuous, delectable, and yet sorrowful.

A Master at Work

Man is always beginning everything anew, even in his own life.

A Matter of Necessity

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

A Short Short Theory

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

A Storyteller’s Story

Americans have always a kind of tenderness for cheat.


The guards ripped off Mara’s clothes, pinning her head against the wall.

Algonquin’s Legendary Editor

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

All-American Poem

You can go from one town square to another and never fall in love.

All-American Poem

We need the opportunity to dance with really exquisite strangers.


I couldn’t love the tree in every soul shouldering its own tiny autumn.

American Paradoxes

I recoil from the certitude that religion can give a person; it’s horrific.

An Abstract of My Research

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

An Incomplete Encyclopedia of Happiness and Unhappiness

The appendix on political correctness explains why none of that is funny.

Ann Beattie


Howard found himself dancing the merengue with a buxom Puerto Rican.

Ars Poetica as Phrenology

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

Atomic Facts

I do not want to fall prey to the bewitchment of my mind by language.

Basic Math

Subtract for the cigarettes, the bourbon, the sleepless nights.

Before Saying Any of the Great Words

There are the short and decisive words: yes, no, now, never, love, death, poetry.

Before the Borderless: Dean Rader/Cy Twombly

Reader, you and I stand once more before the borderless.

Best Advice

To see—and to see properly—is the writer’s central responsibility.

Best Advice

Abandon the idea that arts and sciences are mutually exclusive.

Best Advice

Needless to say, when it was my night to read I was beyond terrified.

Best Advice

It holds a place in my heart: Never forget the suspenders.

Best Advice

Writing is a subversive activity that exempts you from the rules.