• Book Review,  Memoir

    Will reading the book Wired for Story really make you a better storyteller?

    In my 36th year as a would-be and penniless writer, I found myself exiled to a dark rough and tumble city in the Far West, guns blazing as a steely-eyed wordslinger for hire.  But then one day I stumbled upon Lisa Cron’s Wired for Story. The book’s first pages caught my attention.  But alas, the price wasn’t right for a poor, humble teacher on a Chinese salary.  I had bills to pay, a mistress to please, and habits to feed.  Plus there was the local research base full of giant pandas; the damn things generated reams of Chinglish prose I would have to revise for a pittance.  Already my inbox…

  • Rambling

    Back to the Future: My First Lesson in Cognitive Dissonance

    North central Pennsylvania is beautiful and temperate this time of year.  The day reveals a land of maze-like mountain ranges, each ridge roughly the same elevation.  Geologists describe this kind of rugged terrain as a desiccated plateau.  Here there are ridges beyond ridges lush with forest, waterways, bogs, valleys with farms, corn fields and cattle pens; and the sky blue with castles and archipelagos of cumulus.  At night the sky glitters sharply with stars while arches the diaphanous ribbon of the Milky Way.  The weather this time of year is almost always temperate and mostly sunny, except for occasional storm sweeping through, flashing here and there with electric yellow bolts,…

  • Podcasts

    Understanding Thoreau

    In this literature class I help Chinese university students decipher passages in Thoreau’s essay, “Reading,” pointing out that it may take multiple visits to his works — a journey over a span of years — to gain more understanding. I also answer a student’s question into why Thoreau thought reading the classics, preferably in the original Greek and Roman, was so important.