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 False Translation of Baudelaire, “Les Fenêtres”

Better to rewrite Baudelaire: The body only exists in the dark.

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.

A Word, Please

A Writer’s Beginnings

I was writing copy for cheapo furniture for a crummy ad agency.


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

Adam’s Curse

To articulate sweet sounds together is to work harder than all these.

After Noguchi and Other Poems

Crows rasp from branches, scatter debris across unfinished plots.

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.

Am I Supposed to Know the Difference between Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry? I Don’t.

Diane Seuss

American Paradoxes

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

Amherst Ballad Four

On your Desk—Oak Penshaft—Necklaced with Pearl—Iron Nib—

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.


In every pair, one shoe smells of exodus, the other of the body’s sweat.

Andale Mono

One door teaches to read for meaning and pleasure. Another shuts.

Ann Beattie

Ann Beattie and Carol Edgarian in Conversation

Since I was little I was always wondering, What makes people tick?

Ars Poetica as Phrenology

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