Timelapse of the future, including the end of the universe...↗
Read an excerpt of my novel After World which is coming out in....5 months! ↗
"If I were younger and more full of foolish energy, I’d probably take the time to rebut McCarthy’s detractors, critics who take to task both his baroque style and dark themes. The truth is I don’t care—I’ve got the books, I’ve read them and reread them, and I know what’s there and how it rewards my attention." - from Edwin Turner's beautiful riff on Cormac McCarthy's death and a long-term relationship with his books ↗
"The human brain is a wonderfully made tool for forming interesting connections between all sorts of different things. Articulating these moments of synthesis is one of the joys of any creative enterprise, and being able to do so with precision and robust illustration is the skill every writer and thinker tries to develop. The first steps towards doing this can be extremely messy. They have been for me, and I think they will continue to be rather messy." - Nick Seitz in an insightful and often surprisingly beautiful essay on note organization! ↗
If you happen to have a daughter who wants to be a writer, and that daughter is in fact writing her own novel, and it's also summer, and you're looking for a fun yet wise podcast to listen to at lunch together, check out Let's Make A Sci-Fi. ↗
Writing an ecocentric story is really hard. This story nails it and is so, so good: "The Author of the Acacia Seeds, and Other Extracts from the Journal of the Association of Therolinguistics," by Ursula LeGuin ↗
“It turns out despair is its own kind of power, its own kind of freedom. And then I think: If enough of us fall into a dark enough despair, who knows what we can do together. This is the only hope I have left.” - Andrew Boyd, I Want a Better Castrophe: Navigating the Climate Crisis with Grief, Hope, and Gallows Humor ↗
"If the present rate of decline continues, the yellow-eyed penguin will likely be gone from the planet in ten or twenty years. It is difficult to be here watching them and not feel somewhat slammed by this information. What a thing to lose! Go look them up. The candy red beak, the pink go-go boots, the yellow mask angling back from the eyes. They’re the Flash, they’re 1970s Bowie! I don’t mean to imply that adorable, showy species are of more value or somehow deserving of more concern. It’s just … damn." - Mary Roach, Fuzz↗
"We have been making meat from live animals for 12,000 years, of course, but with an accelerating climate crisis and a population of 10 billion to feed by 2050, growing crops to feed farm animals simply does not make sense." -Bruce Friedrich, Good Food Institute ↗
After 6 or 7 or 8 or 10 years of working on a post-apocalyptic novel, I lost track of time, I can finally say, with confidence, that I know how to spell "apocalyptic."
"Among the essays, a real stunner is 'The Cave' by Debbie Urbanski. This tremendously creative work steps over the boundary between nonfiction and fiction as the narrator/writer keeps questioning herself about how to tell the story — what to leave in, take out, interpret one way or another, even fabricate..." - The Anchorage Daily News reviewing the latest issue of AQR! ↗
I have a new essay out in the current issue of Alaska Quarterly Review! (Winter / Spring 2023) ↗
"Many of the rules that have been codified into “grammar” uphold an ideal, not a reality. The grammarians of the seventeenth century onward weren’t interested so much in preserving the language as it was used as in perpetuating a re-formed idea of what language should be. The first soldiers in the fight to preserve English radically changed English, not according to the best practices of the great writers of the language, but according to their own views of elegance and correctness. What they wanted to preserve and promote didn’t, for the most part, actually exist: it was a convenient fiction that was painted in moral terms, thereby ensuring its own propagation. Let me say that again: Standard English as it is presented by grammarians and pedants is a dialect that is based on a mostly fictional, static, and Platonic ideal of usage. Under this mentality, the idea that the best practices of English change with time is anathema. It doesn’t preserve English so much as pickle it." - Kory Stamper, Word By Word: The Secret Life Of Dictionaries↗
When listening to audiobooks, I've found it can be difficult to keep track of characters if there are a lot of them (or if the characters have names that start with the same letter! Merrett, Minor, Murray - argh!). Enter my dream website Book Companion. ↗
My essay "Inheritance" has been named a notable essay in the Best American Science and Nature Writing 2022 anthology!! ↗
"How does anybody know they’re loved? How might you help them to imagine, any hour, any day? Do you ask people how they’re doing? Do you wonder? Do you really want to know? No, really: Do you care about anything as much as you care about yourself? Could you ever? The words alone are not enough." - from the essay "Molly" by Blake Butler. Read it.
My story "Long May My Land Be Bright" has been named a distinguished story in the Best American Short Stories 2022!↗
My essay "Inheritance" has been named a notable essay in the Best American Essays 2022 anthology! ↗
"Unfortunately, the machine remains oblivious to its critical importance and refuses to cooperate."
- from a great article by Jules Struck titled "A mysterious machine in a Syracuse warehouse keeps old movies alive. It’s the last of its kind in the world"↗
"Nightmarish as the discourse surrounding her early years could be, it’s always been Lana Del Rey’s dream we’ve been living in, and not the opposite. Born to Die endures as a monument both to what she created and what she endured, and even if the endurance overwhelmed the creation for quite awhile there, she got over the vicious Internet Ingenue era a long time ago, even if you never did. " - I love this article. I think it suggests that artists/writers/performers might know what they're doing, even -- or especially even -- when it's not what an audience expects. And I think Lana's 2012 SNL performances, which I just discovered, are both different and great. ↗