The Writing Life

Fri., Aug. 19
It’s probably not often enough that Anne Lamott and Stephen King are mentioned in the same breath, but both are award-winning authors who have written important books that discuss the “the writing life.” Both explore their writing processes and share glimpses into the childhoods that shaped them into writers in their titles Bird by Bird (Lamott) and On Writing (King). Among many other tips in…

Of Grifters and Offspring

Tue., Aug. 16
I love stories of con artists. I always have. When this book came out I read it and I still think of it often. The tale of the mother/son team of con artists Sante and Kenny Kimes is riveting. Like anything that is at once horrible and fascinating, it’s hard to turn away from this story. My wife and I took turns reading this book…

Rocky Mountain High

Fri., Aug. 12
I recently returned from a two week trip to Aspen, Colorado. Nestled in a remote valley in the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains, Aspen is best known for its ski slopes and ridiculously high cost of living, but it’s full of quaint and unexpected treasures, too. I expected to fall in love when I first stood among the mountains; what I didn't expect was how it…

Best of BARD: July 2016

Tue., Aug. 9
I told you all last time around to keep it hot and malicious. I don't know how we can keep up this torrent pace. It's nice to see the variety of names on the list, keeping the King off the throne for a little while longer - we got Castillo taking the pole position, perennial second placer Cussler, a rare showing by Meltzer, and a…

Mary Gaitskill and the Art of Progressive Perversion

Fri., Aug. 5
Prudes beware: Writer Mary Gaitskill—once called the "Downtown princess of darkness"—earned her nickname from the oftentimes "taboo" subject material showcased in her books: drug use, prostitution, sex work, and sadomasochism. But while her writing is indeed dark, it's funny too; It's her raw characters—and her utter nonjudgment of them as a narrator—that makes her work so punch-in-the-gut progressive. "We are phobic of weakness, we treat…

Perkins School Releases New Website

Tue., Aug. 2
The Perkins School for the Blind has created a new website for users to learn more about and gain better understanding of the blind experience with the online project Blind New World. The website provides examples and stories from members of the blind community concerning topics such as employment, education, guide dogs, and social inclusion. Users can view a variety of stories and videos highlighting…

Beginning Creative Nonfiction Writers

Fri., Jul. 29
Pittsburgh has been home to some of the greatest creative nonfiction voices of the past century, from those born here like Annie Dillard to writers who made their journeys through the University of Pittsburgh as students like Rebecca Skloot and as educators like Jeanne Marie Laskas. The ‘Burgh is also home to the highly respected Creative Nonfiction literary journal. Pitt grad Dinty W. Moore is…

A Stamp of Approval: In Praise of the USPS

Tue., Jul. 26
In my ranking of favorite things, receiving mail places just above eating pizza and directly after chihuahuas in tiny sombreros. Which is to say, it’s up there. I’d been not so patiently awaiting the arrival of a few choice parcels, and when they arrived last week (on schedule, lovingly cradled in my mailbox), I was struck by how much happiness came from a few slips…

Two Fantasy Favorites

Fri., Jul. 22
In case you haven’t heard, one of my favorite genres is Fantasy & Adventure.  I haven’t been able to read anything fantastical or adventurous lately, but it just so happens that two of my favorite fantasy adventure novels have also been made into movies.  I’ve been watching and reading these two since high school, and I expect I’ll continue to enjoy them in the decades…

All A Dream We Dreamed

Tue., Jul. 19
Earlier in the year I wrote about a few other titles in our collection that are about the Grateful Dead.  Since then, another book on the band has been added to the collection – this time an oral history by Blair Jackson and David Gans. The title of this book (“This is all a dream we dreamed”) comes from one of Robert Hunter’s lyrics in…