The List and the Library

Tsunduko is a Japanese word that describes buying books and not reading them, or letting books accumulate unread on shelves, tables, or your life. I don’t know why there isn’t an English word for this phenomenon, because I know plenty of people whose homes fit that description. Even mine, and I have very little budget for buying books. If I could afford it, I’d quickly qualify for an episode of Hoarders. (“Did you notice how his bookshelf was made out of other books? How does a person let Read more [...]

CNFtweets (Creative Nonfiction on Twitter)

In December 2013 I came across the Twitter hashtag #CNFtweets, encouraged by Creative Nonfiction Magazine and used to tell short, true stories. I'm compiling my contributions to the hashtag here. This page gets updated regularly. This man my age sleeping in the doorway, bundled in a thin blanket, once chose a quote for his HS yearbook. I bet he remembers it. 5-21-15 Their inexperience shone in the cartoonish bulk of their diaper bag, urban sherpas prepared for everything that wouldn't Read more [...]


Schnapps sounds like it’s already drunk. The word dares you to order it with a second-rate Sean Connery impersonation: “Schnapps. Becush schnapps ish delishus, Moneypenny.” U.S. dictionaries try to sully the fun by insisting that schnapps rhymes with snaps, which makes it sound a less like James Bond and more like the crabby crone at the DMV. I prefer the softer, rounder British pronunciation that more closely resembles the phonic in shops. While the beverage itself is a discordant juxtaposition Read more [...]

Everyday Fiction 2014 – Recap

Wondering where to start or looking for a story you liked? Hopefully this helps. Everyday Fiction is an annual writing project that involves writing 30 stories inspired by 30 stranger's photographs in 30 days. This year's photos are old black-and-white photographs found at Kenton Antiques in Portland and Vintage Hardware in Astoria. Understudy November 1 "Mama and Jean were staring at the photograph like she’d been posing with the Monsignor, not a man with no fashion sense." Mortar November Read more [...]


It didn’t take much doing to convince the men that they should keep their own council at the family gatherings. The hard part was convincing them that it was their idea. It’s family lore – at least among the women of the family – how Aunt Meg set the plan in motion many years before. A few days prior to one of the big family barbecues, she casually mentioned to her husband Don that her sister Ida was very excited about a new canning recipe that she wanted to share at the party; a few Read more [...]


Stanley Culpepper had two brilliant ideas. First, he invented the idea of charging for cheese. That was the idea that got him hired as Operations Manager at Bergman’s. You probably think that a cheeseburger always cost a dime or a quarter more than a hamburger, but it didn’t. Once upon a time, cheese used to be a condiment, like ketchup or a pickle, and you could add it to your hamburger. Cost was only a penny a slice, so Bergman’s just lost a penny on those burgers. That was the cost of Read more [...]


On the line next to “Cause of Death” on Gene Bennett’s autopsy report, the coroner had written, “Take your pick. (See notations.)” Those notations included psoriasis of the liver, heart disease, several seemingly cancerous tumors on the lungs, excessive weight, and a medical history of hypertension. The family had a different way of saying the same thing: Gene died of too much living. He never paced himself for a marathon, and everyone knew all those sprints would catch up to him Read more [...]


1957 Because it wasn’t feasible for Harry Stone to fly home to Oklahoma for holidays during his freshman year at MIT, his roommate Don Martin invited him to spend Thanksgiving at his parents’ house in Beverly. When the two arrived Thursday morning, Harry thanked Don’s parents for the invitation, shook hands with the aunts and uncles, and generally impressed everyone except Don's sister Colette. Upon meeting her, Harry just stood there speechless, grinning like a smitten idiot. Harry's Read more [...]


I'm pretty sure my dad thought Betty was a witch. At least by the way he talked about her. He didn't think a normal woman would drive a truck, or like fishing, or have a house and not a husband. I told him he didn’t even know her, only saw her in the yard or driving by, but he said he knew plenty. What struck me funny was if that was the criteria for a normal woman, I wasn’t planning on being one either. I wanted to be just like Betty. She drives a truck because she's a landscaper, so Read more [...]