A Strange Kind of Exile

Excerpt from an essay in the biannual literary magazine, Agni, about former-dissident Czech writer, Ivan Klima, who has had over a dozen books translated and published in English. 

"What attracted these multitudes to Bohemia--besides the easy answer of cheap living--was that Czechoslovakia, with Prague as its spiritual heart and soul, had never lost it's reputation as a literate and arts-friendly country, despite forty years of communist-induced malaise."

Book Buying in Turkey

From Salon.com, a travel essay about Antalya, Turkey, and discovering a used bookstore that sold English-language literary novels. 

"Three days into the trip, while walking through the old quarter of Antalya, Turkey’s southern coastal hub, I stumbled upon the Owl Book Shop, a store that sold used English-language books. Though it was before 9 a.m., the shop was open and a man sat outside in a lawn chair with an empty beer bottle at his feet and a perspiring full one in his hand. He was sweating as much as the beer, even though the breezy morning hadn’t heated up yet. The man asked if I liked books. Following my enthusiastic yes, he popped out of his chair, stuck out his hand and said, “I am Kemer. I buy and sell. Please go in.” His deep voice, dark hair and beard and flawless-but-accented English gave him the appearance of a shabby Peter Ustinov."

Physics for Sports Nuts

From a 2008 Wall Street Journal book review:

"It's no coincidence that "Why a Curveball Curves: The Incredible Science of Sports" is designed as a faux science text-book, just like you had in high school. Except instead of a schematic drawing breaking down a molecular structure or showing the concentric circles of the earth's atmospheric layers, the diagrams show a boxer's head impacted by a soon-to-be knockout punch..."


From Fanzine, an online pop culture magazine. An interview with Steve Pezman, publisher and co-founder of The Surfer's Journal, a six-times yearly magazine devoted to surfing essays, history, travel and profiles.

"Did you hear the one about the guy who surfed a tsunami? Or about the artist who hand-rendered all 114 Suras of the Koran in L.A.-style cholo tag-graffiti, accompanied by graphic novel style scenes of everyday American life? Did you know Bruce Springsteen, back in the day (back before he was single-name Bruce, that is) was a pretty decent surfer? Did you know that the creative director behind Apple’s infamous “1984” commercial that introduced their new Macintosh computer, is a surfer in both temperament and deed? And have you heard of the kid who had a colossal wipeout at Mavericks—one of the most treacherous, big-wave spots in the world—and not only lived to tell, but became famous for it? Readers of  bi-monthly magazine The Surfer's Journal know all these things."

All Hail Hull City

My first published soccer piece, this one on Fanzine. About the early-season heroics of the English soccer club, Hull City A.F.C. That year, Hull were making waves in their debut season in the top tier of English football.

"That day, the Tigers of Hull City stunned the soccer world by beating mighty Arsenal 2-1 at the Gunners’ home ground in North London. Arsenal had lost only once at Emirates Stadium in their previous 59 matches. Writing in the Guardian, Arindam Rej called this result “the most stunning in Hull’s 104-year history” and “arguably the biggest shock result in the history of the Premier League.” Fans of pop-culture ephemera will appreciate the fact that Rej's article ran with the headline “London 0-4 Hull,” the title of the debut album from the Hull-based 1980s pop band, The Housemartins. At the time the article appeared, Hull had played, and beaten, four of London’s five Premiership teams—Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United, and Arsenal. "

From Hell

From an essay published in Post Road magazine, exploring Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's dark and dreadful graphic novel, From Hell, which posits a fictional solution to the Jack the Ripper case: 

"From Hell is horrific, but to dismiss it as simply a horror comic is to miss the point. Through numbing words and bleak pictures, Moore and Campbell paint a sweeping and resonant portrait of the times. My reference to the prostitutes as “poor working women” is made without irony. This novel is as much a numbing, socially-conscious paean to the plight of these destitute women as it is a speculative, true-crime narrative. Much is made of the staggering number of East End women who had no option but to prostitute themselves, and of the sheer hopelessness inherent in their line of work."

Beware The Derby's California Horses

Excerpt from a 2010 Wall Street Journal piece, speculating about the upcoming Kentucky Derby:

"When the horses leave the gate Saturday in the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby, two California-based entries, Lookin At Lucky and Sidney's Candy, will likely be the one and two betting favorites, respectively. But before you bet the rent on one of these to win, here's a word of warning: The California horses are in a bit of a slump."

The Passive Beauty of John Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat

From a book recommendation in Post Road magazine, singing the praises of Tortilla Flat: 

"There is a languorous and passive beauty in the descriptions of the lives of this poor and simple group of friends (as a depiction of the poor, the novella is often lumped as a kindred spirit with another of Steinbeck's Monterey-set novels, Cannery Row.) When I say "simple," I don't mean to sound condescending. The raison d'être of the group is simply this: to simultaneously avoid work while somehow procuring enough money to buy wine (a dollar per gallon seems to be the going rate at that time and place), and then to pass a pleasant evening swapping stories and/or raising hell. The group of friends—primarily Danny, Pablo, Pilon, Jesus Maria Corcoran, The Pirate, and Big Joe Portagee—pass their life in one long, hazy reverie of drinking, drink-induced light mischief, telling stories, dishing dirt, and passing judgment on the repetitive and sometimes hilarious events in the lives of their fellows. None of these proto-slacker anti-heroes really have to be anywhere or do anything, except for the above-mentioned wine procurement." 

Riding The Hoboken Ferry

From a personal essay published in the online magazine Fanzine:

"I disembark and walk through the near-empty train terminal adjacent to the dock, a place that will be teeming in a few hours with commuters hurrying back to their bedroom communities; but now there are only a few stragglers, and the place has a lazy, dog-days air about it. I walk past train conductors chatting with Pakistani newsstand proprietors, while black women in blue shirts sweep up around the tracks and concrete platforms with longhandled brooms and flat bottom dustpans, and girls in brown smocks stand at coffee counter windows and stare vacantly toward the trains or read those bestsellers where the author’s name is larger than the title. I walk past all these people out into bright sunshine into Hoboken, a city of my past."




George Orwell and Christopher Hitchens

From an interactive writing project for Mediander, a company that connects readers with the publishing marketplace. This Hitchens-to-Orwell connection is only a small part of the larger project; overall, this involved months of reading and researching George Orwell:

"In his book Why Orwell Matters (2002), polemicist Christopher Hitchens makes a convincing argument for the British writer’s continued relevance more than 60 years after his death. Hitchens was a freethinking contrarian, often called a gadfly of the left, and it’s easy to see why he admired George Orwell. Both men were iconoclastic in their political thought, and though both leaned to the left, they were not afraid to take their fellow leftists to task."