• A Summer Reading Adventure! Let’s Do It!

    A Summer Reading Adventure! Let’s Do It!

    I’m going to post updates here all summer, including resources, additional details, and links to the subscribers-only posts. Let’s get reading! I am probably going to regret this, because who has the time? I have freelance work to do, and a thesis to research, and reviews to write, and this newsletter to keep up. Do…

  • Summer Reading Adventure Week 2

    Summer Reading Adventure Week 2

    Welcome to week two of our reading adventures, courtesy of the National Book Foundation’s reading challenge. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Wingback to read along and comment, and be entered to win volumes 1 and 2 of Memoirs of a French Courtesan at the end of the summer.

  • Review: Godwin

    Review: Godwin

    Godwin Joseph O’Neill Pantheon, June 2024, $28 How did I get this book: NetGalley ARC There are two things to know about me before I begin this book review: I have been thinking about race, business, and sports since former NBA star and Portland Trailblazer Rasheed Wallace gave a blistering interview to The Oregonian in…

  • Summer Reading Adventure Week 1
  • This Was Supposed to Be a Book Review

    This Was Supposed to Be a Book Review

    I have notes, quotes, and a half-assed draft of a book review waiting in the Wingback wings. This was the weekend I was going to pull it all together and publish it on Monday. However. Memoirs of a French Courtesan Volume 2: Spectacle has been to the proofreader and the layout has been completed. I…

  • Today Was a Good Day

    Today Was a Good Day

    As I opened my book to read for a while before going to bed, I realized I had had a very good day. I made a list in my bullet journal to remind myself what made it good; I thought it might be worth sharing and spelling out—briefly!—why these were good things. The Morning Run…

  • Review: The Understory

    Review: The Understory

    The UnderstorySaneh Sangsuk, translated by Mui PoopoksakulDeep Vellum, March 2024, $17.95How did I get this book? Library There are a few basic questions to ask of any book, and The Understory answers them in intriguing ways. Questions like: Does this book use paragraphs? No! Is there a plot line to follow? Not so much! Is…

  • Review: Glorious Exploits

    Review: Glorious Exploits

    Glorious Exploits Ferdia Lennon Henry Holt, March 2024, $26,99 How did I get this book?: Library This is not a properly critical review. The review is five stars, 12/10, would read again, no notes, you will not be sad to spend your time and money with Lampo, even if he is sometimes a frustratingly selfish…

  • Review: Seven Steeples

    Review: Seven Steeples

    I wrote this more than a year ago and apparently never published it. So enjoy! Seven Steeples Sara Baume HarperCollins, April 2022, $18.99 How did I get this book? Library There are many good reasons to read a book where nothing much happens. If your own life has a lot happening, a quiet book can…

  • Review: I Cheerfully Refuse

    Review: I Cheerfully Refuse

    I Cheerfully RefuseLeif EngerApril 2024, Grove Press, $28 The most effective post-apocalyptic fiction and climate fiction (cli-fi) doesn’t feature One Big Disaster that annihilates half the population and resources of the Earth with a Galactus-like snap. These stories are more like mid-apocalypse, and so more realistic, and maybe more existentially frightening. It’s difficult to imagine…

  • A Newsy Newsletter

    A Newsy Newsletter

    I have reached a trifecta of tiredness this week. I have a huge deadline looming for my thesis proposal at school, I have my first in-person book event since the pandemic coming up (see below!), and I have a family concern that’s weighing on me. So I don’t really have the brainpower to write something…

  • Anyway, It Was Spring Break

    Anyway, It Was Spring Break

    Last week was my spring break from school. I did not spend it at a beach — I’ve never done that, not even when I was doing my undergrad in Florida, a state that is 97% beach, in the 1990s, a notorious time for spring break parties. I am very glad I skipped that whole…

  • Who You Are, When You Are

    Who You Are, When You Are

    One day last week, it was brought to my attention twice that as an artist, a craftsperson, a creative person, that you can only be who you are, when you are. When a concept snags in my mind like stringy algae on a stick in a stream, I tend to swirl it around in the…

  • For International Women’s Day: Books About Publishing

    For International Women’s Day: Books About Publishing

    I just got out of an online seminar on running a small business that I was really looking forward to, but it turned out to be largely irrelevant to my weird little business. So let’s make lemonade out of these lemons by looking at my favorite books about writing and publishing by women. The Business…

  • Happy National Grammar Day!

    Happy National Grammar Day!

    I had a handful of other potential topics to cover today, including my current translation diary for Memoirs of a French Courtesan Volume 3, a list of books to read before you die, and an overview of future projects, but the internet tells me it is National Grammar Day, so here is an impromptu message…

  • Bonus Post: Books for Black History Month

    Bonus Post: Books for Black History Month

    We get a bonus day in February this year, which seems as good a day as any to share a bonus post from The Wingback. I’ve put together a quick list of a half-dozen titles by Black authors that immediately spring to mind as favorites. You can find all of these books (plus a few…

  • Hanging in There

    Hanging in There

    I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few months about this little newsletter and you, its readers. Most of you signed up ages ago and probably mostly forgot about it for a couple of years while I published sporadic updates about the publication of my books. And yet you’re still here years later, which…

  • Ineffectual Thorns

    Ineffectual Thorns

    I recently pruned my roses, as I do every February. I used to do this on or after Valentine’s Day, but climate change is real and upon us, so now this chore gets done at the beginning of February. It’s a pleasant chore, the kind that makes a noticeable and immediate difference when it’s done.…

  • Hold, Please…

    Hold, Please…

    I regret to inform you, dear readers, that I wrote an essay for The Wingback at the last minute, and it was absolute shit. So rather than pass that off as anything you might possibly want to read, I am posting a picture of my dog being impatient about her walk time. If you’re looking…

  • Is AI My Competition?

    Is AI My Competition?

    In the summer of 2023, I stopped writing for How Stuff Works after more than a decade of freelancing for the company. After I left, I learned from my editor (who has also since left the company) that article updates would be performed by artificial intelligence. I posted about this change in several places, including…

  • Hot Takes on Cold English

    Hot Takes on Cold English

    When winter storms bring the city to a halt, I apparently think of poetry, which I’m kind of surprised to learn about myself. In 2021, when ice encapsulated every twig and leaf of every tree and shrub and bent them to the ground, I thought of Robert Frost’s “Birches.” This year, as a storm that…