The Bond release approaches!

The Bond release is officially less than a month away. It’s exciting, terrifying, and lovely in equal measure. I’ve been writing this book for over a decade (and also the two books that follow in The Bond trilogy). These characters and creatures have had...
Waiting at the DMV

Waiting at the DMV

I will say this for the Department of Motor Vehicles: everyone suffers. When I’ve had to visit one of our state’s 113 drivers license offices, I’ve noticed how every element seems designed to diminish us. You might be a multi-billionaire or just out of prison (or...
A dark side of summer vacation

A dark side of summer vacation

With summer vacation in full swing, I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes an ideal vacation. First, it’s important to determine which side of the vacation divide you’re on: familiarity or novelty? There are those (and I’ve been in this camp) who return to the same...
Keeping neighbors on the map

Keeping neighbors on the map

Two summers ago, I spent a month in the Kentucky Knobs without a map. The Knobs horseshoe around the Bluegrass just south of the state’s northernmost tip. Unlike those gentle rolls, the Knobs are a ring of hills, or monadnocks. I was staying in a farmhouse near the...
Swedish death cleaning and you

Swedish death cleaning and you

Sometimes, a newspaper article can have surprising repercussions. Last fall, I ignored the spate of coverage of a self-help idea called “Swedish Death Cleaning.” As I now know, Swedish author Margareta Magnusson advised the middle-aged to de-clutter their lives so...
Crossing paths with an angry dude

Crossing paths with an angry dude

Just so we’re clear, I might have made the wrong decision. It was a chilly day as I headed out to meet a friend to walk around Duke’s East Campus. At a Broad Street intersection, I was blocked by a stream of cars whose drivers had not a single fleeting thought of...
A succulent philosophy

A succulent philosophy

One evening, I returned home to find the kitchen covered in severed fingers. Green ones. I mean, that was my first impression. But the fingers were far too stubby to be human (perhaps a toddler ogre?). A selection of pots, tins and cups crowded the countertops. When...
Where would you go?

Where would you go?

Where would you go in a nuclear attack? This is a question I hadn’t thought to ask myself until recently, with two madmen publicly measuring the sizes of their … buttons. But there it is. This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – normally...
My dad’s gun

My dad’s gun

When he was a boy, my dad received a marvelous gift: his father’s own boyhood rifle. It’s a beautiful object. Burnished wood stock, a thundercloud-grey barrel. After my dad died, it was the one thing I really wanted. At this moment – 2:45 a.m., cat stretched beside me...