Good Letters



By no dint of my own doing, it couldn’t have been a more well-timed pitch for network television. Three weeks I’d been preparing for the trip to L.A., fleshing out the premise, characters, and pilot storyline for a show about the world of first responders to natural disasters. I’d even come up with a title…

My Own “Rex Manning Day”


After my parents’ divorce, my mother moved us kids to a trailer on the northeast side of town. It was long and narrow, like a ship’s galley, and the wallpaper’s thin brown stripes seemed to carve themselves into the drywall. The trailer never felt like home, never felt like a place you could settle. We…

A Letter to My Unborn Niece


My brother and his wife are about to have their first baby. This is my first letter to her. Emerson, By this point you are no doubt aware, even if it’s scary for you to admit, that all these adults crowding around you all the time do some things wrong. Maybe a lot of things…

Happy and Unhappy Families


When Tolstoy says that happy families are all alike, what he means is that they are all alike in this one thing: they are boring, not worth writing about. Unhappy families. Now those are interesting. Last night my wife and I—and our two teenage boys and pre-teen girl—celebrated our third wedding anniversary. In these three…

The Muse in Cyberspace


As I was biking today, a squirrel ran across the road with a big nut in its mouth. Squirreling it away, I thought. Then I thought: sign of autumn. Then I thought: that means packing up for Tucson. Which means (I sighed to myself) leaving behind my shelves of poetry books for five months. I’m…

The Four-Day Layover


I am between flights. It’s a four-day wait in this case, and I can spend it at home, so it probably doesn’t constitute a proper layover. But it feels like a layover, and I have a difficult time concentrating on anything but my connecting flight, the one that will unite me with my sister. I’m…

Then Who Is Responsible?


Most days he’s not there, standing just this side of the traffic light, his flimsy cardboard sign asking for help for a person down on his luck. When I do see him on my way home from big-boxville, I always pay more attention to the letters—the childish scrawl—on his sign than I do to him.…

A Heart in Two Places


The grid is the plan above the earth. It is a compass of possibilities. —D.J. Waldie, Holy Land During the time I spent completing my MFA, I worked for months on a single essay about the south suburbs of Chicago, where I spent my youth and young adulthood. I had just moved to Michigan, and…

Art from the Inside


A lighthouse. Numerous out-stretched hands. A kite soaring above a beach. Many prodigal embraces. Cages. Crabs. Serpents. Masks. Faithful reproductions of The Last Supper. And, of course, numerous depictions of Jesus trudging toward Golgotha, and the iconic end result, bloody crucifixions. This is a rough inventory of the prison art exhibit “Art From the Inside”…

Stripping the Fat off Reality


“Since dullness is the chief enemy of art,” wrote John Gardner in On Moral Fiction, “each generation of artists must find new ways of slicing the fat off reality.” I love how Gardner did that. He could have said it more simply. “Each generation of artists must be more creative than the last,” is how…

Image’s Daily Blog

For the humanists of the Renaissance, literature mattered because it was concrete and experiential—it grounded ideas in people’s lives. Their name for this kind of writing was bonae litterae, a phrase we’ve borrowed as the title for our blog. Every weekday, one of the gifted writers on our blogging team will offer a personal essay that makes a fresh connection between the world of faith and the world of daily life, spanning the gap between theology and experience and giving language a human shape.

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