If you were an adolescent in the early 1980s, you probably heard tales from a college your friend’s brother’s cousin attended on the fringes of wherever you lived: a kid obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons had lost his mind and then lost himself in a maze of tunnels underneath the campus. You may have seen … Continue reading “But down in the underground, you’ll find someone true…”
“The Green Knight is everything you love about King Arthur, but with a twist.” That’s the tag line Comcast is using to advertise streaming rentals of writer-director David Lowery’s visually sumptuous new movie. The angle surprised me: I didn’t know Arthuriana still sells. My sense was that the Arthurian boom peaked in the late ’90s … Continue reading “…and if we live the lie, let’s lie in trust…”
Build your brand! Optimize your keywords! Like, review, subscribe! Writers now believe they have to carry on with this nonsense. Maybe some must, even though for most of us the returns are minimal and the requisite skills aren’t always inborn. Much good writing goes unread because a poet or novelist lacks the hucksterism of a … Continue reading “I’ve willed, I’ve walked, I’ve read, I’ve talked…”
The Brood X cicadas have risen again, crawling up our tree trunks, our wooden posts, our concrete foundations—any upright surface suits them fine. The last time they emerged, I was living in a city and wondering where I’d find myself after 17 years. Now here I am in the country, with the cicadas’ deafening song … Continue reading “Something unseen, some hand is motioning…”
When the pandemic began, friends asked me what insights I could glean from studying and writing about the Middle Ages for as long as I did. “Nothing,” I told them, which remains true. Yet I can’t shake the feeling that we’re living through an apocalypse—not necessarily in the religious, end-of-the-world sense, but in the literal … Continue reading “Night is day, and twilight’s gone away…”
They told me, “You have to watch this interview where Mike Tyson talks about medieval history,” and so I did, and there he was at the New York Public Library in 2013 being interviewed by curator Paul Holdengräber, whose German accent strikes the American ear as both effortlessly intellectual and lightly amusing, and who would … Continue reading “And this world’s a fickle measure…”
I don’t have romantic notions about what writers do—but every so often, our work has profound implications for neighbors and friends. In January 2019, I met two great-granddaughters of the founders of Sugarland, a town established by former slaves immediately after emancipation in rural Montgomery County, Maryland. My new friends were tenacious historians who had … Continue reading I Have Started for Canaan: The Story of the African American Town of Sugarland
It took a few months, but I managed to transfer this blog to a new host. Links to posts from outside sources may no longer work, so if you’ve linked to a book review or favorite post in the past, you’ll need to find it via the search box in the sidebar and re-link to … Continue reading “…and in this town of stops and starts…”
On June 1, 2020, almost thirteen years to the day since it began, this blog will disappear. My hosting service is shutting down, and I don’t have time right now to find an orderly home for hundreds of old posts. In truth, this blog has been held together by pipe cleaners and putty for years. … Continue reading “Check if you can disconnect the effect, and I’ll go after the cause.”
Every December I do a roundup of blog posts from the passing year, mostly as an easy index for my future self. This year has been the least prolific in the thirteen years I’ve been doing this, and I’m okay with that. Since January, I’ve been helping a local organization write a book that’s going … Continue reading “People don’t sing like they used to sing…”
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