After all the painful and unwelcome shots-in-the-arm this week, here are a few things that made me feel better about the world.

Ideal Bookshelves.  Want to see the Ideal Bookshelves of Jennifer Egan?  Junot Diaz?  Mary Karr?  David Sedaris?  Would you guess that out of the 16 books on the Sedaris shelf, 3 of them are by Tobias Wolff and not one of those is THIS BOY’S LIFE.

I just started reading a short story collection by Charles McLeod.  There are single paragraphs that, necessarily, take up 3 pages, and this morning I had to look up the word “nycticorax.”  I love it.  I’ve been so bored with much of my reading lately.  Ahem.  I’m not bored now.

In a few months, an anthology of new California prose will be republishing my essay “War College.”  Very exciting, yes!, but also surprising because “War College” was, technically, the most difficult piece I’ve ever tried.  At one point, my beta reader looked at a draft and said, “Hmmm, not your best work.”

The story was all about conversations that took place over a week in close quarters, liberals and conservatives, on topics like Guantanamo Bay, the use of torture, the ACLU, the outgoing President Bush and the new President Obama, religion.  But here was the kicker:  I was not allowed to use anyone’s name.  So I’m writing an essay full of dialogue but without characters?  What?!?!?!

After about 3 dozen rewrites…. yes, it was possible.  And now, the hardest piece I’ve ever written, published twice.

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Tell me something good that’s going on in your world.

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