Thursday, March 31, 2005


Tonight I audited a course that Ted is taking through a local college. Prayer is the subject. The professor (a monk and long time academic) was well credentialed and amiable, but as I watched him sitting there in his neat mint green shirt and khaki trousers, I couldn't help reflecting on the magnitude of his task. As we all know, you can teach the outward aspects of piety. You can teach someone to kneel and bow her head, to clasp her hands together like a saint in a Renaissance painting. And you can certainly teach the words of prayer, commit them to memory, recite them so often that you forget what they mean. But can you teach prayer itself? Might as well try to teach Love.

I had brought a notebook with me. It was a new Moleskine I'd saved for something special, but by the end of two hours, I'd only written three words:

Begin with Desire.

An excellent recipe for praying, for writing, or any passionate art, and perhaps, all I needed to learn for one night.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


It's a good day for waiting. Waiting for spring which is so close that even the persistently cold New England temperatures cannot deny its incipience. And as always, waiting for a book that will startle me, rattle my preconceived notions, leave me just a little bit more alive than I was before I poked my nose between its covers. On that front, this was a day of good news! First I got word that Saturday, which I ordered as soon as I heard Ian McEwan had a title for his latest, is being held for me at the library. Then I heard about two new books that will keep me in joyful waiting until at least 2006.

I don't know the number of books that are published each year, but I do know that it's considered "too many" by those who feel that their masterpieces are being lost in the shuffle, and "one too few" by those desperate to see their own first novels in print. I also know that of all the "stunning debuts" that are offered each season, very few live up to the hype. And even those seasoned novelists who have delighted us in the past frequently disappoint with their third or fourth efforts.

In other words, it takes a lot to get a jaded and frequently disappointed reader like me excited about a new novel. But excited I am: first by Katharine Weber's forthcoming novel, Triangle, which is excerpted in the link below. For me, there are several categories of fiction: there is fiction to be enjoyed, fiction that educates and enlivens and challenges, and finally, there is fiction that haunts. I call it necessary fiction. Triangle is clearly in that category.

http// hc-ne-springq-sg,0,7404846.special?coll=hc-headlines-northeast -
21k - Mar 29, 2005 -

Another novel that has aroused my book lust is The Bitch Posse, a debut by Martha O'Connor. Not only is the flap copy scintillating, but the advance reviews have been incredible. I rarely pre-order books, but in this case I made an exception. How can you go wrong with a novel that is described as "stuck up middle finger punk fiction?"

Pre-order THE BITCH POSSE at Amazon

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


This recent article in the NY Times seems to take exception with glut of memoirs produced by
"ordinary" people. In the past, William Grimes laments, the memoir was a genre reserved for the likes of Ulysses S. Grant. Now anyone with a migraine headache or a history of lifelong obesity can join statesmen and celebrities on the shelves and talk show circuits. It seems that no subject is too mundane for literary examination. Drank too much in college? Let's hear about it. Just got your AARP card in the mail? Whoa--you just qualified as an expert on the trials of middle age.

My first impulse is to applaud this rather democratic trend. Hell, who says Ulysses S. Grant or Bill Clinton or Goldie Hawn can tell a better story than the self-described Fat Girl? And if they can, let them prove it by competing for readers like every other writer has to do in this absurdly competitive market. How many times have we heard of celebrities (or pseudo celebrities like Monica Lewinsky or Amber Frey) receiving obscene sums to recount through a ghostwriter the repetitive travails of life in the fast lane. I, for one, would rather read an honest and original account of middle age or anorexia or a headache that lasts a week than sink my teeth into yet another self-serving celebrity memoir. 25memo.html?8br=&pagewanted=print&position=

Monday, March 28, 2005


At a time when social justice seems to be an increasingly unpopular subject, we are seeing the kind of bitter divisions between the haves and the have nots that I never thought possible in my country. And oddly it is the haves (who seem to view themselves as the not enoughs) who are particularly splenetic in their bitterness.

Thus, I was especially heartened to hear one of the great heroes of our time, Archbishop Oscar Romero, remembered in two eloquent homilies in my parish church over the weekend, as well as in this oped piece in the Boston Globe. Archbishop Romero clearly never set out to be a radical, much less a martyr. He was simply a man who did what was demanded of him, not flinching or backing down, even when he realized that what would be asked of him was nothing less than his life."

Saturday, March 26, 2005


1. There is enough ugliness and negativity in the world. This will be a blog dedicated
to seeking, finding and celebrating what is good.

2. No whining. (See rule #1)

3. No depressive rants allowed. ("I'm fat" "I'm sick of my waitressing job." "No one out there in the literary world appreciates my incredible talent." "Nobody loves me." "Lots of people love me but not enough...etc.") Yeah, that's the stuff, and obviously, I'm incredibly good at producing it. But I won't. Not here. (See Rule #1)

4. Blog with joy, courage and abandon and then dammit, go out and try to live the same way. (See rule #1)

5. Okay,I lied; there really is only one rule.

The other day I went to a literary website named Dead Drunk Dublin or Drunk Dead Dublin, or some variation thereof. Anyway, the site featured a quote by Andre Gide:

"Any thought that is not filled with love is unholy." Consider that the Rule of the Blog.

 Posted by Hello

Friday, March 25, 2005

Naming the Blog

One hour old and my blog is already exhibiting symptoms of schizophrenia, multiple personality disorder, or maybe just garden variety
neuroses. It can't even decide on its own name! Is it "Simply Wait," which is the obvious story of a writer's life? Or is it
"The Marvelous Garden," the bliss that we so often think lies at the end of our wait, but which is really right here. Right now.
In my life, apparently, it is both.

But first things first. It was poetry that inspired both titles:


Over the hilltops,
Among all the treetops
You feel hardly
A breath moving.
The birds fall silent in the woods.
Simply wait! Soon
you too will be silent.


The Marvelous Garden was inspired by this excerpt from Rumi:

How marvelous is that garden where apples and pears...
are arriving even in winter.

Those apples grow from the Gift and sink back into the Gift.