St George's Kermis with Maypole

Everyday Life as Literary Concept

  As mundane as the phrase everyday life may seem, it can be an extraordinary notion. Think about how the major players in the French salons during the ancien régime believed their everyday lives would be relevant after they were long gone because they were advancing human gracefulness and intelligence. They were certainly right, as […]

The Subtle Magnetism of Nature

  There’s no better way to celebrate nature than a complete immersion like I experienced during a day-hike on the Appalachian Trail in 1989. I share it today as a call to action given another Earth Day approaches next Saturday, April 22nd. Twenty-seven of them have passed since I walked those trails, and while some measures […]

A dory glides across the ocean in Costa Rica

The Stuff of Literature

  I opened a recent diary entry with this quote by Richard Ford: “A lot of people could be novelists if they were willing to devote their lives to their responses to things.” Tomorrow is my three-year anniversary here on The Diary of an Improvateur, and this is my 100th post on this blog, so […]

A rainy Saturday at Yale is my secret to happiness

The Secret of Happiness

Nestled into her chateau in St. Brice, France, during the summer of 1924, Edith Wharton wrote in her diary, “The secret of happiness is to have forgotten what it is to be happy.” As a writer, I interpret this sentiment as being so absorbed in work that no feelings register at all. Whether she meant it […]

Edgar Allan Poe daguerreotype

The Legacy of Edgar Allan Poe

  I’ve seen and heard some of my all-time favorite exhibitions and lectures at The Morgan Library and Museum, the programming they produce so exemplary I always check their site first when I know I’ll be in New York City. And no matter how many times I walk through Pierpont Morgan’s library, I’m struck by […]

Château Pédesclaux in Bordeaux

Architecture with Heart in Bordeaux

In the preface to the book Grand Bordeaux Châteaux: Inside the Fine Wine Estates of France, Philippe Chaix describes discovering Bordeaux as a bewitching act: on foot, he reports, it means ambling through the city of stone and gazing into its mirror-like river. Setting off to explore the Mèdoc and Saint-Èmilion, he notes, the experience makes […]

Sally Potter and Pablo Veron tango on the seine

The Architecture of Tango

  I envy the pencil being held carefully between her fingers, the rasping sound the sharpener makes as a thin layer of wood peels away from the instrument’s body. I am fascinated by her hesitation, the dark point poised above the supple blank pages so pristine the sight sends ripples of resistance through the synapses […]