Earlier this week, I returned from my first-ever trip to Las Vegas, and I must admit I had a great time. If you detect a begrudging tone in that statement, then you, my friend, are the winner of—well, sadly, you’ve won nothing; I’m a freelance writer, and I can’t afford to hand out door prizes. Though you do get the satisfaction of basking in your own cleverness, so hey, that’s something, right? (Okay, I’ll stop now.)
Anyway, as I was saying, Vegas is not a place that ever ranked high (or at all) on my list of desired travel destinations, but when you receive an offer you cannot refuse—particularly when it involves a city with historical mob ties—then you don’t very well refuse.Read More»
A decade ago, shortly after I started working at Gourmet (RIP), I attended a food-writing panel that included one of our senior editors. The moderator introduced my colleague as someone whose beat was “food politics,” and even though the audience was stocked with culinarily obsessed people, it became apparent during the Q&A that many folks had no idea what the term “food politics” meant.Read More»
On this wet, monochromatic Monday, I find myself wanting to write, but not quite knowing where to begin. Whenever I need a creative push, I turn to the works of others for inspiration, and so I share with all of you a few lovely, funny, thought-provoking quotes about writing. (A shout-out to Goodreads.com for the useful search engine that helped me find these.)Read More»
Last night, I attended the reading of a friend’s play at the Actors Studio. In addition to the work itself, which was impressive, there was much about the process I found fascinating. Although I’ve written scripts for different types of television programs, writing for the stage is an entirely different animal, and there’s a reason I’ve never attempted it. Penning the dialogue for my novel was challenge enough—the most difficult part of the process for me—but having to tell an entire story solely through the characters’ spoken words? Will someone be so kind as to get me a bottle of calamine lotion and an inhaler, because I’m breaking out into hives at the mere thought.
The best literature is capable of taking ugliness and spinning it into something beautiful. By that I don’t mean that it sugarcoats the bad or conceals that which should see the light of day—though writing can do that as well—but rather that it can start from a place of great darkness and transform it into a truer, more enduring reality without losing the essential nature of the thing, like a lump of coal compressed into a diamond. (N.B., despite the proverbs, diamonds aren’t actually formed from coal, so there’s another example of the transformative power of an idea once we’ve collectively agreed to subscribe to it.)
This notion accompanied me throughout the reading of Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the Banyan, a fictionalized account of her childhood years in Cambodia’s killing fields, where somewhere between one and two million people were murdered or died of starvation and disease (about a third of the country’s population at the time).Read More»
Sanity. Is it black and white? As Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once said of pornography, will you know it when you see it? Or is it a matter of degrees, a tenuous balance that we must always struggle to maintain?
As a writer, the question of how to stay sane is one I face on a regular basis. Fear not: I’m in no danger of being institutionalized, but when your job involves spending hours at a time heading down mental and emotional rabbit holes to plumb for treasure, it’s easy to get trapped underground. Or maybe it’s that I’m driven to do this work precisely because I would have been spending that time spelunking anyway, and the job just gives me a socially acceptable excuse for my behavior.Read More»
It is official! I am thrilled to announce that Lisa Gallagher, of the storied Sanford J. Greenburger Associates, is now my literary agent. Not only is she an amazing woman with years of experience as both an agent and publisher (check out her impressive bio), but she’s also someone who “gets” my novel and what I’ve tried to achieve within its pages. Oh, and she’s a nice person with a lovely British accent to boot. (Everything sounds better in a British accent.) Jackpot!Read More»
In November 2012, I flew down to the beautiful island of Aruba, just north of Venezuela, and spent four days at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino on Palm Beach.
To read my thoughts on the property, as well as a brief area guide, check out the review I wrote for Saveur.com. It’s part of their “Room Service” department, a section of their Web site devoted to food-centric articles on hotels around the world:
Every now and then a movie comes along that captures the zeitgeist with wit and intelligence. Skyfall, the latest James Bond flick, has done that in spades. To say that I’m surprised is what you’d call an understatement.
You see, I’ve never watched a Bond film in its entirety until this one. (I pause here momentarily to allow for your disdainful gasps.) Yes, I’ve caught parts of the Connery and Moore films on broadcast TV over the years, and I even Netflixed Casino Royale when it first came out on DVD (though I hit “stop” after 20 minutes). Being a sentient, pop-culture consumer, I know the franchise basics and its associated mythology, and I understand why it is so popular, but it just never held much appeal for me.Read More»
Why would a Queens girl root for the Bronx Bombers? It’s a question I’ve been asked many times, and it’s usually accompanied by a look of utter disgust on the face of the questioner, as if I’ve betrayed my tribe or peddled state secrets on the black market.
Baseball fandom is a curious thing. There are all sorts of reasons we latch onto teams, and geography is probably first among them, but thankfully the sport has always allowed for spiritual kinships that transcend those lines on a map. In my defense, I come by my choice of team sincerely, and my commitment to them has never wavered.Read More»