Creative nonfiction essays

When Dolls Talk

I was eighteen years old when my daughter, Belinda, was born—a kid having a kid. I didn’t see myself as a kid, of course. That understanding came later.

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In New York City, in the spring of 1999, a story hit the newspapers of a Long Island woman who had given birth to twins–one white and one black. The woman and her husband were white and the black baby was not theirs…

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Melville and Bartleby: Facing the End of an Audience

“Bartleby” stages the terrible unworkability of faces, the equally terrible unknowability of our own.

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Hard Canvas

We’re pouring concrete into holes created by IEDs—roadside bombs. The ground in Iraq is extremely hard. A landscaper’s nightmare, it’s not made for digging and planting. Most of the IEDs are set on the top of the ground.

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Death Rattle

This clothing, this changing of the clothes, is not at all like Superman.

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Bubble-gum Cameos, Pop-tab Cars, and Kansa the Buffalo

pull tab car

These people make objects out of everyday things—not just because concrete and junk and chewing gum are cheap, but because they’re there. They work with what they know.

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No Taking Pictures

I take a breath and pop it into my mouth. At least she hasn’t tried to make me eat the fish eyes or chicken feet for sale in the night markets of Taipei.

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Three Interlinked Selections from A Whaler’s Dictionary

Etching is the art that understands that the only way to reach knowledge is to suffer the opposite. Like the whalers on board Pequod, we must cross the line.

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The Commute (Hoboken, 1996)

On June 1, Simon & Schuster/Touchstone released Living on the Edge of the World, an anthology of essays from New Jersey writers about their home state. The book includes original selections from Tom Perrotta (Little Children), Joshua Braff (The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green), Jonathan Ames (Wake Up, Sir!), and many more refugee and remaining Jersey scribes. This brief piece from the anthology is adapted from Christian Bauman’s new novel, In Hoboken (Melville House, March 2008).

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Whale Winds

worlds most endangered whale

Between the coast and the end of the world is what we are here for. Because, here be monsters.

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Cubs Saturday, 1984

The pennant wasn’t at stake, not, as I can best recollect, when
I awoke alone in my apartment in the eighth month of my marital
separation, glad about the sun and looking forward to being with
my two children again.

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It is 4:00 a.m. For the past hour, only the hallucinations have kept me on my toes.

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Warbler Delight

amy leach words shaped like a mountain range

Warblers are not beefy like geese; a goose on your head gets irksome, compressing your neck; but a warbler could spend the week there undetected, like a cherry or a shilling.

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Potatoes are dropped into a pan of steaming water. Turkey is layered with corn, tomatoes, rice, and cheese. I no longer know whose hands are mine.

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Walking with an Essayist

It is gray and frigid outside. I have accomplished little at my desk. I have plans, when I return home, to draft an essay about love. So I want my walk around the lake to go quickly.

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