November 2010

Confessions of a Novelista, Part One

I was minding my own business about, oh, seven years ago, when my parents presented me with 50 years of National Geographic magazine, paper edition. As I filed the stacks in a cabinet in my barn, a few installments caught my eye, and I pulled them out—including an August, 1997 issue entitled “Malaysia’s Secret Realm”, with a silvered leaf monkey on the cover. I still… Read More

The 2,000-Year-Old Take-Out Plan

Last week, an hour after hugging my big dog who’d returned from walkabout on the wild property next door, I discovered he’d brought me a case of poison oak. For two days I tried, bravely, to squelch the monstrous outbreak with hot packs, zit cream, powder—all my usual, misguided attempts at relief—but finally had to call the doctor. “Yep,” my esteemed physician said, tearing off… Read More

Ode to Clementine (Gold, USD $1,340.70 oz.)

She was the daughter of a Forty-Niner set on finding his fortune in the foothills of California’s Mother Lode. She was said to have ruby lips, and be as light on her feet as “a fairy.” Perhaps it was the herring boxes she wore for shoes.  Funny song. The thing is, there really was a Clementine, and she really did wear herring boxes for shoes.… Read More

Fahrenheit 451 AD

I’ve been researching libraries of the ancient world lately, and the figures I’ve come across are amazing. Alexandria alone is said to have housed 500,000 scrolls; Pergamum, 700,000; the Celsus Library at Ephesos, 15,000. Unfortunately for them—and us—these libraries, comprised mostly of papyrus, were sitting ducks for anyone with a grudge and two sticks to rub together. Occasionally they caught fire accidentally, as happened when… Read More