It’s a summer Sunday here in central Ohio—temp in the low eighties, humid and mostly still, just the slightest stir of air from time to time. Such Sundays always remind me of similar days from my adolescence in tiny Sumner, Illinois—days when people could be lazy if they chose, days that could truly be days…

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It can be easy in these days of doubtful facts, deliberate deceit, and dubious truth, to worry about the value of storytelling. Our politicians threaten narrative; our fractured world can do the same. Even when it comes to the writing of creative nonfiction—that genre that deals in facts—we may be tempted to question the value…

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Please don’t tell the folks who sign my checks at The Ohio State University, but my wife Cathy has always been a fan of the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team. She’s always wanted to see them in person rather than on television, and today, thanks to a game here at OSU, this was the…

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I’ve told this story before, so please excuse me for telling it again. It has so much to do with everything I want to say about pressure points in narrative. On the last night that my mother lived independently, a package addressed to her neighbor was accidentally delivered to her. My mother was a kind…

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Here we are on Memorial Day, and our peonies are in bloom. These showy, fragrant flowers were in every bouquet that my mother always made to set upon our family’s graves on what we then called Decoration Day. I look forward to their buds opening this time of year, not only because I enjoy their…

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When it comes to writing memoir, we can never give full expression to an entire life. We have too much from which to choose—too much time, too many moments, too many characters, too many questions. We can, though, find a narrative arc that, if handled skillfully, will contain more of the past, the present, and…

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Yesterday, there was work to do—there’s always work to do, something to write, something to read—but, after brunch, Cathy said, “Why don’t you just rest?” I gave her my standard answer, “I’ve got so much I need to get done.” Her response? “Sometimes, it’s okay to not do anything.” So it is in the stories…

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Each night before bed, Cathy turns on the dishwasher and sets the security alarm. I listen to the  whir of water, the beeps of the alarm. As we drift off to sleep, there’s the hum of traffic from the nearby highway, or the sound of our cat, Stella, jumping onto the bed. At the end…

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I could tell you a story, as I do in my essay, “Bastards,” about the night a young man opened the back door to our house and stepped inside while my mother was washing dishes. I could recall, fact by fact, what happened next. The relevant question for those of us who write creative nonfiction…

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Here we are on the other side of the Fourth of July. We’re in the heart of summer now, but I can feel its end and the coming of the crisp days of fall and then the biting winds of winter within the hot, sunny days that will still be ours for some time. Book-length…

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