Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Some days the ethics of being a literary critic, while unambiguous, still pinch. Say your allegiances lie squarely within the gay community. You actively advocate for and advance arts of, by, for the LGBTQ community. You're assigned to review the nonfiction work of Emma Donoghue, best known as a fiction writer who not only happens to be a lesbian, but who locates queer identities centrally in much of her work.

You feel confident this will be a sympathetic review because you've enjoyed much of her fiction, even associate one of her short stories ('The Dormition of the Virgin'), "the diary of a nerdish English student on a mini-break pilgrimage to Florence," with an all-time high of personal contentment, the recollection still sweet of lolling around a Roman piazza as the sun set, reading her well-turned little tale as the crowd cleared out. You needed absolutely nothing more from life at that moment.

Given all that, a review would be just fine, a hoot. You sign on. You're pleased. That is, until you read the book. Inseparable is lacking and you are obliged to say so. This review, because it's critical, was hard to write. Still, I'm pleased to suggest that I may be the minority opinion. So don't just take my word for it. Read Kathryn Harrison on the matter as well. Even better, read for yourself and decide.

Friday, June 04, 2010

operation walk the dog

This may not sound at the outset like it has anything to do with dog walking, but it does. The rampant jeering at BP leads me to the obvious conclusion that we're monstrous for distancing ourselves from the oil companies. It's a breathtaking disconnect. Gentle reader, how many miles did you drive today? And how many of those miles could you have ridden your bike, taken public transit, or walked? For me, I'd estimate my week clocked in at well over 100 miles, with all last weekend's zipping around.

I've got a great bike. And the sole reason, as it has been for years, that I drive to work is so I can travel the six miles back home to walk my dog Stella at lunch without taking forty minutes by bike each way to do it. So. Does my budget stretch for a dog walker comfortably? Not without some changes. But I'm putting out the call anyway. I don't want to sit around lamenting the evil empire of BP while their fuel pump is snug in my tank.

Natural Resources Defense Council

[Photo credit: Kira Stackhouse]

Thursday, June 03, 2010