“How Kind of You to Come”

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’ve forgotten her face. It’s become a disordered collage: the slope of a nose, the curve of a lip, a glow of brown eyes. Memory no longer assembles them into a face. So I paint everything else. Her front door. The in-between coat she wore in autumn. Her beagle. … Continue reading “How Kind of You to Come”


The Interpretation of an Alligator

I wasn’t as surprised as I should have been when I read that Bobbie Baker had come home from work one afternoon to find a five-foot alligator on her doorstep. I should have been as shocked as she was when she poked it with a broomstick, and it flicked one ancient eye open to glare … Continue reading The Interpretation of an Alligator


“Mom, isn’t there something wrong with this diner?” I spin on the high leatherette counter stool, taking in the mirrored,overlit surfaces, the display case of cheesecakes and baklava, glossy fruit pies and multilayered cakes, the mostly empty booths and tables.“Overdone? Too much?” “No,” Sylvie murmurs. “Just something... off? I don’t know. Kind of... fake?” “Inauthentic? … Continue reading Unconvincing

The People’s MFA (“Werewolves in Their Youth” Edition)

I have deep respect for people who have completed a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Devoting two years of full-time study to producing acres of drafts and absorbing what can be painful critique, knowing all the while that there will be no “Help Wanted: MFA-Accredited Novelist” ad to answer at its conclusion, is … Continue reading The People’s MFA (“Werewolves in Their Youth” Edition)

Book Review: The Goldfinch

A time-honored axiom among screenwriters and novelists is “Chase your character up a tree and throw rocks at him.” Get your character in a lot of trouble. Complicate and multiply his problems. Don’t grant him an easy way down. In The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt’s hefty, Dickensian bildungsroman, the Tartt Corollary to the Trees and Rocks … Continue reading Book Review: The Goldfinch

Summer Reading: A Hologram for the King

I select my vacation books before embarking the way other people pack their outfits: What activities will I be doing, and for how much of the time? What mood will I be in, and what books will suit it? How do I hope to feel while I’m away? And do I have enough room in … Continue reading Summer Reading: A Hologram for the King

Popping the Hood

I began reading when I was four years old and haven’t stopped since. Immersive reading was my drug through an unhappy childhood and adolescence, with all the desperate need and avoidance of unpleasant reality that addiction entails. Books damaged my eyes rather than my liver, but they gave far more than they took. I lived … Continue reading Popping the Hood


Tweets RJ Hayden @RJHayden I can tell you read my tweets, even though you don’t follow me. #justsayingupsterExpand 2 May RJ Hayden @RJHayden In the gazebo where I used to kiss you breathless, I’ve left something for you.Expand 3 May Scott @ScottyBoy79 What? Dude u never kissed me breathless!Expand 3 May RJ Hayden @RJHayden Only … Continue reading Following

Book Review: The Circus of Dreams

A book review of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern At the entrance to the Night Circus, Le Cirque des Rêves, the Circus of Dreams, stands a curious clock. By night, The face of the clock becomes a darker grey, and then black, with twinkling stars where the numbers had been previously. The body of … Continue reading Book Review: The Circus of Dreams


"People don't do this, you know," Henry complained. I paid for his Big Mac, fries, and milkshake, and coffee for me. "How would you prefer to do it? Tell me. I'll do it your way." We sat at a table near the window. "What is this bullshit, Rob? We've been on this trip together since, … Continue reading Unfriended