Archive | Memoir

Tom segmented bowl

Celebrating My Brother

      Tom Kenyon   Today I received an email from my brother—my baby brother—announcing that he will be a demonstrator at the national symposium of Segmented Woodturners ( If you don’t know what a segmented woodturning is, here are a few pictures of Tom’s work.                  […]

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Chicago Poems

On Being American

I’ve just opened Wallace Stegner’s Marking the Sparrow’s Fall, a collection of essays published by Stegner’s son after the author’s death. It’s been on my bookshelf for a long time, but never picked up for unknown reasons. In the opening essay, “Child of the Far Frontier,” Stegner writes of the power of certain images, smells, […]

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Individual Versus Community

  If there’s anything the pandemic has taught us, is that isolation is bad for the human soul. Maybe it has also shown us that our need for community, for others, is both vital and powerful—as much to our self-interest as to our individual aspirations. As an ageing woman with lousy hearing, I fight the […]

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magic lamp

Of Magic and Muses

  I was born and raised during the Depression in a row of apartment buildings behind the University of Chicago where young faculty raised their young. During the day, we children lived in the cobweb of banisters, porches, and staircases that climbed the back of the buildings. We climbed trees, walked fences and held secret […]

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End of The Race by Judith Kirscht

END OF THE RACE: Changing the Tune

I just received a review of END OF THE RACE from Diane Donovan of Midwest Reviews. Here is an excerpt: Readers of women’s fiction who enjoy stories of challenge, transformation, and already-strong women forced to examine the foundations of their beliefs and lives will find End of the Race weaves mystery, intrigue, and self-inspection in a vivid, […]

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Ursula LeGuin

To Ursula LeGuin

Ursula LeGuin died yesterday. “One of the literary greats,” says Margaret Attwood. The media today describes her as a colossus, a radical, a trail blazer. Her voice was heard well beyond the science fiction and fantasy genres; in 2014, she was awarded the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, cited for […]

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Sailing With Impunity: A great read

Join This Adventure! I write mostly about fiction, as my regular readers know, but once in a while I’m attracted to a non-fiction, especially memoir. Though Sailing With Impunity will especially appeal to sailors, and I am very much a  city-bred landlubber for whom sailing the Pacific in anything but a cruise ship would be unthinkable. […]

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Mothers hands

My Mother’s Hands

In a previous blog (“About the Inheritors”), I talked about how the themes of my life emerge as I write, and more specifically, in The Inheritors, the very American experience of moving between cultures and classes. As I wrote about Carla, Alicia’s mother, I suddenly had a vision of my own mother standing at the […]

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Grandma, Grandpa, me, girls

Who’re You From?

  One of the fascinations of writing fiction is creating characters “out of whole cloth”, then recognizing in them attitudes and dominant traits of myself, the people who shaped me, my children, or others who have left some mark. I remember creating Carla in The Inheritors and puzzling over her familiarity. Then I woke up […]

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Memories of a Chicago Winter

From my damp, but otherwise cozy roost in the Northwest, I listen to the weather report from Chicago, look at the pictures of the icicle-laden remains of a burned-out buildings and remember.  This memory is for you. A New Year’s Message, Chicago Style New Years’ Eve, 1945, and I was invited to spend the night […]

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