Backyard Stories

In 2004, I signed up for a Highlights Foundation Workshop on writing nonfiction and I grumbled silently for weeks before I set out for Honesdale, PA. The workshop leader, editor Carolyn Yoder, had asked each of us to bring a nonfiction piece about something “in our own backyard.” Up until then I had written about… [Read More]

Up and Coming Writers

Those of us involved with books – writers, editors, librarians, teachers – worry a lot about the whole reading and writing process.  Will there be people in the next generation willing to read challenging literature?  Will there be people in the next generation who can write articulately? I can name one for sure.  She is… [Read More]

A Green Truck

When I traveled out to Wyoming back in 1998 to do research for When Esther Morris Headed West, I was stunned when I got off the plane in Cheyenne.  It was so unlike anyplace I had ever been I thought I might have landed on the moon. I walked across a brief stretch of tarmac… [Read More]

Arguing With Friends

I met one of my oldest friends in Athens where we both attended a year-long college program. Together we studied the architecture of the Parthenon, flew to Cairo and rode camels, and spent endless hours deciding which Greek island we would sail to next. When the year came to an end, she departed for her… [Read More]

Edith Wharton…Pleased

She would have been pleased with the guests: aspiring high school writers who participated in the Edith Wharton Writing Contest, families and friends, published authors, and people from near and far who simply love books and reading. She would have been pleased at the world class staff that was on hand to show her house… [Read More]

Translating Edith Wharton

The biography that first introduced me to Edith Wharton was Shari Benstock’s  No Gifts From Chance (1994).  From there, I worked my way back to R.W.B. Lewis’ Edith Wharton; A Biography (1975) and then forward to Hermione Lee’s Edith Wharton (2007).  By the time I’d devoured these three books I was grabbing anyone I met… [Read More]


When I was in elementary school, my family lived in Ohio and we took frequent car trips to Galesburg, Illinois where my four grandparents and various aunts, uncles, and cousins lived.  My parents would wake my younger sister and me up at 5:00 in the morning (my much younger sister and brother didn’t appear in… [Read More]