Yesterday evening, Cathy and I drove down to the lake in Fryer Park, which is located off Orders Road about a mile from our home. It was a pleasant evening—humid, but overcast and with enough of a breeze to make things comfortable. We sat awhile on a bench overlooking the lake and then decided to…

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My mother and father weren’t huggers, nor were many of the other adults where I grew up. Reticent Midwesterners all, they rarely offered more than a firm handshake. As I went through my adult years, my world expanded to include people for whom hugging was natural, and increasingly I found myself in social and professional…

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Since 2004, Akashic Books, an independent publisher in Brooklyn, has published a series of noir stories set in specific locales around the world. Although I’ve never thought of myself as a noir writer, I’ve been invited to contribute to two of the books in this series—Memphis, Noir, and the recently released, Columbus, Noir. In fact,…

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Elizabeth Strout’s new novel, Olive, Again, begins like this: In the early afternoon on a Saturday in June, Jack Kennison put on his sunglasses, got into his sports car with the top down, strapped the seatbelt over his shoulder and across his large stomach, and drove to Portland—almost an hour away—to buy a gallon of…

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This morning at breakfast, a large group—too large to sit at a single table—came into the restaurant. Half of them sat at one table, and the other half took an adjacent table, which was behind where Cathy and I were sitting. I really didn’t take much notice of them until I heard a man’s voice…

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On this Easter Sunday, I’m thinking of the small country church I attended when I was a small boy. The Berryville Church of Christ sat on a gravel road just south of the crossroads where my grandmother lived cattycorner from the general store. There wasn’t much to Berryville: that store, two churches, a defunct school,…

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All day, this Father’s Day, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about a particular belt my father wore whenever he wanted to be dressy. It was a black elastic belt that stretched until the buckle  clasped. That buckle was a gold-plated “M,” the initial of our last name, a touch of vanity, I always…

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