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 they […]

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 […]

I saw the Arc de Triomphe with new eyes

Seeing with New Eyes

  Day two of my Parisian literary adventure follows a foray I wrote about last week. It turned out to be a long wanderjahr because I decided to walk all the way from my hotel, Le Meridien Etoile in the 17th arrondissement near the Périphérique, along the spine of Avenue de la Grande Armée, past the Arc de Triomphe, […]

Chambre Bleu painting

A Backward Glance on rue de Varenne

The narrow sidewalks push their black iron batons up out of the ground to protect the buildings hemming them; the rain turns the cobblestones to muted mirrors of damp light—I’m visiting her again on the anniversary of her 155th birthday, and it dawns on me that I’ve never seen the statuesque green door with its […]

Edith Wharton's home in France

What Libraries Might Teach Us

I’m on my way back to Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University tomorrow and it occurred to me that it would be a good time to share with you what I’ve learned so far from delving into the papers of some heavyweight writers at some of the country’s finest libraries. I’ve reserved […]

Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald before This Side of Paradise

This Side of Paradise

I looked forward to meeting Michael Berman during the Spring 2016 High Point Market when he was there to debut his Califolio collection for Theodore Alexander, and, not at all a surprise, the party was packed. As more and more people filed in, I noticed the serene setting he had created with more than 75 […]

The Basilica of St. Francis, as seen from below

It Is Time to Experience More

Experience more. It sounds like a simple directive but how many of us really take the time to savor what is happening right in front of us? I consider it a blessing that, as a writer, I live my life steeped in curiosity and engaging the world with heightened perception, and I feel fortunate to […]

Three children painted in the Elizabethan style.

Narratives That Illuminate Design

If you believe that design-centric coffee table books contain nothing more than visual surveys of portfolios, I am out to change your mind today by presenting my choices for narratives that illuminate design. What has prompted this quest? Two intelligently written books in Rizzoli’s holiday catalog—both of which were published earlier this year. Narratives That Illuminate Design […]