Is This A Real Story Or Did You Make It Up?

Parents ask the question. School principals ask the question. Police ask the question. Journalists ask the question. What’s the story? The questioner has two expectations. He or she expects to find out what happened. He or she, at the same time, expects to receive a not-quite reliable version of what happened. You might, in answering, […]

It is a site only a beaver—or Sisyphus—could love.

Dam it All

It wasn’t quite what Jean Thie was looking for—he had been scanning satellite images of melting wetlands permafrost for signs of global warming—but the Canadian ecologist quickly recognized what he saw on Google Earth that October day in 2007. The crescent-shaped blob hiding in the southeast corner of Wood Buffalo National Park was a beaver […]


Welcome the Fall

Here’s the skinny: I am a fat woman. And I’m not talking fat in the way an average-sized woman might, as in, “Does my butt look big in these jeans?” I’m talking fat as in, “Jesus Christ, look at that woman over there; I can’t believe she’s eating in public.” Fat as in morbidly obese, […]

Catalogues for Bruegel

We go like a fog in an overgrown estate, the rich relative gone, the upper rooms darkened. We go like a world of lens grinder’s dust falling, a world stumbling into the darkness of a ditch. The slim catalogues we took over time of our green world, the ripe fruit and the animals darkened under […]



Years ago, when I was an under-aspiring and entirely unlikely college English professor in America, there used to be an insider joke I shared with myself around the department Xerox machine, and that always sent me away entertained. Whenever any one of us esteemed faculty members would ask another if he’d read such-and-such a book—let’s […]


We rode in many trucks in Spain. I liked this because the noise of the engine and the business of shifting through multiple gears precluded chit-chat with the driver, and I felt safer sitting up in the cab of a big truck. It was the end of 1969; the truck drivers had caught wind of […]


Big, Round and Smooth

In 1626, Francis Bacon plunged into a snowstorm to test his theory on meat preservation, fatally contracting pneumonia after stuffing a chicken with snow. In 1837, Rev. Sylvester Graham (inventor of Graham crackers) preached that vegetarianism cured alcoholism and lust, inciting Boston butchers to riot. Such are the spirited moments in the long relationship between […]