OCTOBER 19, 2010 11:35AM

The Rumpus interview with Dinaw Mengestu

I have an interview up on arts/culture website The Rumpus today with author Dinaw Mengestu.

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Dinaw Mengestu’s name may be hard to pronounce (dih-NOW men-GUESS-too), but you’ll soon be hearing it a lot more. Earlier this year, theRead full post »

OCTOBER 4, 2010 9:30AM

The Best of The New Yorker Festival

This past weekend, I went to the annual New Yorker Festival, where the magazine rounds up its formidable roster of contributors, subjects and friends for a weekend of talks and performances. The five events I attended had sex, violence, music, humor and mutant radioactive albino crocodiles. Here areRead full post »

SEPTEMBER 27, 2010 11:58AM

Say it again, Sam*

One of my least favorite things about being a journalist in the era of 800 million news outlets is that you end up interviewing people who have been interviewed a dozen times before, asking them many of the same questions that all the other journalists asked them. I’ve had stories whereRead full post »

SEPTEMBER 16, 2010 12:46PM

The Tricky World of Translation

I have a friend who is translating The Iliad from Latin, for fun, and I have to admit that on hearing of his undertaking my first reaction was, why? Hasn’t that been done already, a lot? Yesterday The Paris Review’s blog provided a great reminder of the importance of new andRead full post »

I have an essay on The Millions today about The Switch, the recent film adaptation of the Jeffrey Eugenides short story "Baster." (Eugenides is best known for his novels Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides, but "Baster" is a sharp, funny little story.) 

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 In 1999,Read full post »

JULY 29, 2010 11:41AM

In Praise of Precocious Narrators

I have an essay published today at the literary criticism website The Millions, about my love for novels with precocious child narrators:

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In Dan Chaon’s story “Prodi/
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Editor’s Pick
JUNE 30, 2010 11:18AM

The pleasures and perils of meeting favorite authors

Since I am an enthusiastic reader, there are a lot of authors with whom I would love to be friends. We’d meet at a reading, hit it off, grab coffee—and voila! I’d have a glittery and talented new companion who would not only tolerate my endless discussion of books and reading aRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
JUNE 14, 2010 11:45AM

Will the real Christina Aguilera please stand up?

This post is also published on Jezebel.

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Christina Aguilera has always been my favorite pop star. From the moment “Genie in a Bottle” hit the airwaves in 1999, I was hooked. She was in the pages of my teen magazines, but unlikeRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
MAY 27, 2010 12:23PM

The emotional heart of So You Think You Can Dance

The seventh season of So You Think You Can Dance premieres tonight, and man, that show makes me wish I could. 

I was a gymnast when I was younger, though you’d never know from the fact that now I can barely touch my toes until after an hour of yoga. I spentRead full post »

Reading Michiko Kakutani’s review of the third book of Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, I was hit with a moment of déjà vu. There has been a lot of coverage of the now full-blown phenomenon of these books…Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MAY 12, 2010 1:09AM

Can I still admire Marion Jones?

The WNBA season opens this weekend, and when the Tulsa Shock face off against the Minnesota Lynx on Saturday, a league that has long struggled to build a fan base will find a few more eyes cast its way—because Marion Jones is on the roster for the Shock.

Most people, of course, knowRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
APRIL 29, 2010 12:48AM

Grammar police take on Twitter. Good luck with that.

I love grammar and punctuation. In high school, I thought the standardized tests that asked you to correct sentences were fun. I use semicolons in text messages. My job involves proofreading. I have a visceral reaction to mangling of the English language. I don’t understand what is so damn diffRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
APRIL 26, 2010 9:15AM

Talking politics and unicorns with author J. Robert Lennon

Some books just grab me, and I become one of those well-meaning, perhaps annoying, literary evangelists who tells everyone I meet, “You have to read this!” Such was the case when I discovered J. Robert Lennon‘s brilliant story collection Pieces for the Left Hand severRead full post »

Stephen Sondheim is having a heck of a birthday party. The musical theater titan turned 80 last month, and tributes to his work—which includes West Side StoryCompanyFollies and Sweeny Todd—have filled New York with a little night music. The Philharmonic cRead full post »

APRIL 12, 2010 3:47AM

Living and Writing in Spanglish

When I browse amazon.com, read book reviews or go into bookstores, I’m always struck by the sheer volume of volumes out there in the world. “How can there be anything left to write?” I think. “How is there any story left to tell, or any new way to tell it?”

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Editor’s Pick
MARCH 31, 2010 3:50PM

Art Watch: Painter Jeff Long


Exploring Sacramento's galleries every month, I rarely come across a show as striking as the one currently up at JayJay. Through April 24, the East Sac gallery is presenting the first Sacramento exhibit of longtime San Francisco-based painter Jeff Long, and it's well worth a visit.

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Editor’s Pick
MARCH 24, 2010 10:56PM

How Zoolander Changed My Life

When I was younger, I was kind of a brat. Not mean, not cruel, not a bully—just someone who thought she was usually smarter than the other kids around her, and sometimes smarter than her teachers.

I also loved movies, but I took pride in watching good movies. When my sister and I/Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 8, 2010 2:26AM

Oscar Watch: The Sci & Tech Awards are a Man’s World

On a night that Kathryn Bigelow made Oscar history by becoming the first woman to win an award for Best Director, another moment on the telecast made clear how far women still have to go in Hollywood.

Partway through the packed show, actress Elizabeth Banks highlighted the Academy’s ScienRead full post »

Warning: This will get lewd. But how can you talk about the dizzyingly funny and wildly vulgar political satire In the Loop, nominated for best adapted screenplay, without language that would make Howard Stern blush?

In the run-up to the March 7th Oscars, there has been much discussion about peRead full post »

FEBRUARY 24, 2010 2:36AM

This is Your Brain on Twitter

Yesterday, Twitter released a statistic that made my head hurt. Apparently, the site now boasts 50 million tweets per day. That’s 600 tweets per second. In the question of quantity or quality, quantity has delivered a resounding blow.

The March 2010 issue of Entrepreneur magazine includesRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 18, 2010 1:58AM

Lindsey Vonn vs. the Tragic Nymphs

This post also appeared on Salon.

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In an article that appeared Wednesday in Slate, Hanna Rosin examines the fraught world of sexuality for female athletes. Her central comparison is between skier Lindsey Vonn, who recently posed for Sports Illustrated swimsuit iRead full post »

FEBRUARY 17, 2010 3:15AM

Two Rooms of One's Own

[I wrote this essay for the new issue of the Pomona College Magazine about home and shelter. I'd love to hear your own experiences of moving out and moving on.]

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My dad loves The Beach Boys. When I was young, he taught my sister and

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Don’t get me wrong—I think Lady Gaga and Beyoncé are two of the most talented pop stars out there. I sing along to “Paparaazi,” Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love” might be my favorite mainstream hit ever, and I saw a great Destiny’s Child concert wRead full post »


Last week Jonathan Larson's rock opera Rent concluded a 373 performance/39 city tour, starring original Broadway cast members Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp as musician Roger and filmmaker Mark, in my hometown of Sacramento. I’ve long been a fan of the show, which bri

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Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 9, 2010 1:28PM

Crazy Heart and a country playlist


A few days ago I saw the movie Crazy Heart, about a down-and-out country singer who, despite being an alcoholic and having a penchant for leaving his belt buckles constantly undone, possesses a grizzled warmth that attracts both Maggie Gyllenhaal and the audience. Jeff Bridges is favore

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