Dwelling in Dark Places

I read a lot of books about dead things. It’s an occupational hazard for a Frankenstein scholar with a penchant for medical history. Doubly so for one who teaches a course on plague and apocalypse fiction. Because of this both my real and virtual bookshelves are stacked with titles like Stiff: The Curious Lives of […]

The Acknowledgements

On Friday the 4th of December I sent a PhD thesis off into the void. Four years of work, and many sleepless nights in recent weeks, uploaded through a deceptively simple internet portal for other people to judge. I like to think it’s worth their time. Worth my time too, for that matter, but that […]

Look at the whole board

The Bartlett Administration, cir. 1999-2000 In the early days of the pandemic, I started re-watching Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing (1999-2006), a much beloved drama chronicling the lives and intrigues big and small of President Jeb Bartlet’s eight years in office. It’s dated, there’s no doubt. The coats are boxy, the metaphors are heavy-handed, and […]

On Character

I’ve been thinking about characters and characterization, about the way a writer can build and populate their work with ink and paper people. About the tricks we use to make those people real for our readers. The foibles that need to be imbedded in them, the lexicons we design for them, the archetypes we use […]

A Time to Take Pictures

There are times for words and times for actions, times for art and music and protest. There are times to walk out into the world and say Today There Will Be Change, because change is good and evolution is powerful. There are times to hide. Times of fear. Times of distress and anger and, times […]

Art & Apesh*t

    Warning, contains sweeping generalizations and graphic art.   Mary Patterson (1828) J. Oliphant Recently, I came across the above image. A pencil sketch by John Oliphant of a young woman named Mary Patterson. The subject is nude, supine, and one of a long line of female artistic subjects laid in a posture that […]

On the seventh week of isolation

And on the seventh week of isolation, I started wearing jewelry again. A watch, a necklace, two rings. The watch is a sister to the one my dad gave me when I started getting serious about running back in high school. The silver cross necklace was a birthday present from my grandmother the summer I […]