On Beauty

Strange, the way forces converge. One moment you are reading Zadie Smith's On Beauty, and the next moment you are inside the novel. The mundane facts look like this. At 6 PM, having despaired of accomplishing anything else by way of book promotion...my current 'job'...what was there to do but prop up my feet and bask in the fading light of day? I am a fading-light kind of guy, after all. Obsessed with the wearing out and running down of things, particularly time. So it is a bittersweet part of Read more [...]

Thoughts on the Garden

'It is too late,' I keep thinking, 'to be publishing a book.' By which I mean that doing anything at age 65 is less than optimal, particularly something new. Publishing a book includes all sorts of noisome extras, like publicizing the book, aspects of which are enjoyable, it turns out, but costly in terms of energy. What a pleasure to read to 40 appreciative people in a Phoenix bookstore. Still, there was the trip and the extroversion energy output. No, I would not have missed it for the world. Read more [...]

Phoenix and Shuttles

The SuperShuttle airport van that Jane and I saw moments ago has disappeared. Not surprising, Roble Avenue itself being remarkably empty of cars at this hour. It is the seventh hour. And less than 36 hours since I blew in from the Pacific Northwest. The idea of returning to the airport is not a pleasant one. The idea of having to chase down Messrs. SuperShuttle is even less pleasant. But the van is gone, that is the simple fact, and what is one to do but frantically punch numbers into the mobile Read more [...]

The Road to Walla Walla

The woman ahead of me would like to use the elevator. And the woman behind the counter nods without making eye contact. Yes, she may. Odd, the requests here at Alaska Airlines gate C2. Mine seems more straightforward, a tag for my wheelchair. But even this produces an odd response. Not necessary, the agent tells me. This man will help you. The latter turns out to be a not very friendly West African guy. Neither of us understand our roles. But actually, much later it does occur to me that I foolishly Read more [...]


At 4 PM, it was just the three of us, me and Jane and our one guest, Judith. We all know each other through the Menlo Park Chorus. And it was nice to have her there, Judith. It was also nice when my landlord Tom, wandered in from his upstairs apartment. It was very nice. It was also very scary, because the table was loaded. The board groaning, as it were. I had bought enough champagne to keep much of the county bubbly for a considerable period, sucked Trader Joe's dry of juice drinks, cheeses and Read more [...]


I have to call Sina. I don't want to. Staring at her card, I even believe that I don't like her name. I recall the Sino-Soviet disputes of the 1980s...or maybe the 1970s...and decide that her name reminds me of that era. Still, I call. She is in the store. That is why she speaks to me. I don't know what I expected, but this is what happens. The books. I remind her about the books. Yes, she says. She remembers. We spoke about the books only a couple of days ago. I am trying to get enough air, my breathing Read more [...]