Category Archives: Class notes


The American Male at Age Ten, by Susan Orlean. She’s someone whose work you need to be familiar with. Did you see the movie Adaptation? It was based on her book The Orchid Thief.
UPDATE: We will be discussing this Feb. 11, that’s next time. Also we’ll be talking about choosing a profile topic. Keep thinking about it.


After the snow


Hope you managed to enjoy your day of canceled classes. I spent the day hunting down a column that didn’t turn out to be much, but wasn’t terrible. I got to be snotty to the Department of Motor Vehicles in print, which is always satisfying.* I ate reheated Chinese food for dinner (chicken and broccoli), walked both my dogs (Maddy lost, count ’em, two of her snow shoes), and I watched two people’s cars get towed. Now I’m drinking red wine (the lady at The Wine Shop lets the dogs come in the store) and I am watching a movie called “Ravenous,” which I believe is about cannibals in the Mexican-American war. I think Guy Pearce is gonna get eaten by Robert Carlyle, or possibly by the guy who plays the principal in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

OK about next week. I have homework from 17 of you. I need 10 more. Please please send them in. The quicker I get the the quicker you can be off an running on your first articles.

So Feb. 4: Please, once again, be prepared to talk about “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” as well as “Peekaboo Paradox.”

Think about scenes. What are the  scenes in these stories? How do they fit together?

As for your profiles, begin thinking about access — whom can you interview, spend time with, observe. The date on the syllabus for your rough draft I think is too soon (plus it falls during your winter break). We’re going to move it back, but I haven’t decided what the exact date is yet. We’ll talk about it next week.

Think about scenes from your childhood. We’re going to be writing in class next time. Be prepared.

Questions? Let me know.

*The Commissioner of the New York State Deparment of Motor Vehicles is named David J. Swarts. He went to high school with my dad. I went to junior high and high school with Swarts’s daughter, Becky, who, in 1988, hit me in the forehead with her field hockey stick. It still hurts thinking about it.  I had a big goose egg above my left eye for a month. She said it was an accident, but I have remained skeptical. I am pretty sure Commissioner Swarts is unware of all this. If I ever interview him I probably will mention it. I won’t be able to help myself.


amd_taleseDo a little reading about Gay Talese. Just google him and learn a thing or two about him. Spend five minutes doing this. Thanks.