A few things I've written:

My books

Pirates You Don’t Know, and Other Adventures in the Examined Life - is my essay collection, forthcoming from the University of Georgia Press. In it I talk about being born in the last American enclave in Saigon during the Vietnam War, growing up in a coal town in southern Illinois, and working as an Army deep-sea diver and frogman. Really, though, my concerns are the same as anybody else's: What's it mean to be educated? To think, feel, create, and be whole? What's the point of this journey? Read more here....

A Democracy of Ghosts - is my novel, set in 1922 in the most radical community in America. It's got it all—torture, murder, love, infidelity, desire, bootlegging, a tripped-out gunman, a whiff of necrophilia, and a communal narrator of transmigrating souls. Check it out, it's a ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year!

Herrin: The Brief History of an Infamous American City - is a narrative nonfiction history of the community where my novel is set, an all-American city that that drew the ire of the entire nation by becoming not just a melting pot but also a cauldron. Includes some 85 archival photos. Now available on Kindle and Nook!

Book Reviews

‘Jewelry Box,’ Aurelie Sheehan

‘Stories’ and ‘Stories II,’ Scott McClanahan

‘Rattlesnake Daddy,’ Part 3

‘Rattlesnake Daddy,’ Part 2

‘Rattlesnake Daddy,’ Brent Spencer, Part 1

‘Poetry in Person: 25 Years of Conversation with America’s Poets,’ ed. Alexander Neubauer

‘Isherwood on Writing,’ ed. James J. Berg

‘Chekhov the Immigrant,’ eds. Michael C. Finke and Julie de Sherbinin

‘Imagining Paris,’ J. Gerald Kennedy

‘Passion in the Desert,’ Thomas E. Kennedy

‘Pnin,’ Vladimir Nabokov

‘The Turkey: An American Story,’ Andrew F. Smith

‘Havanas in Camelot,’ William Styron


John Warner, redux


Glen Retief, writer and teacher

Erika Dreifus, writer

Duff Brenna, writer

Dinty W. Moore, writer and editor

Philip Graham, writer and teacher

Catherine Gass, Newberry Library photographer

Brian Turner, poet

Ron Tanner, writer, teacher, AWP Board President

David Bowen, independent publisher

Josh Birnbaum, photographer

Dr. Buddy Schweig, Chief Scientist, USGS

John Warner, writer and teacher

Roy Kesey, writer

Chris Floro, Special Forces chaplain

Ngo Trung Viet, Vietnamese IT expert

Jim Barkus, Chief AP Reader for Lit/Comp

Retired business prof

Mimi Foe, writer and former sex worker

Craft & Lit

Squat and Naked, Part 2

The Squat Naked Hairy Guys of Genre

Revisiting ‘Grapes of Wrath’

What Matters in the Education of a Writer

Thoughts On Putting Together a Creative Nonfiction Collection

Teaching Melville on 9/12

Knowing by Bits and Pieces

The Cycles of Biography

New Creative Nonfiction Species Found in Wild

Problems in Portrayal

Widow X Waits for You

Bonus McSweeney's Dispatches

On Ghosts

On Wildness

On Banality

On Apophasis

On Autonomy

On Jaundice

On Introductions


The Funny Man Returns

Story first published in Mediphors

Story in Perigee

Story in MonkeyBicycle


No, I still hate football

Found poem

Journal 15

Time Unstuck

You’re Good and I’m Proud of You

Technology Appreciation Week

A Day at Dalkey Archive Press