Welcome. I’ve been a working journalist for more than three decades and a professor of journalism for more than 15 years. I’m the author or editor of eight books, all of which can be found under my name on Amazon.com.
Before teaching, I was a long-time staff writer at The Washington Post Magazine, where I wrote in-depth profiles of the famous and the obscure — stories about George H. W. Bush and Jesse Jackson, stories about the daily lives of a fundamentalist family and a happily married couple, and many, many more. (You can find a lot of them in my books American Profiles and At the Heart of It.) I’ve won more than 25 local, state and national journalism awards, including an Emmy for a PBS documentary based on my book The Everlasting Stream.
You can find descriptions and reviews of my books and the film below. The books are all available on Amazon.com.
My brand new book, Slices of Life, is a labor of love — it collects the recent published work of students in my Literary Feature Writing class at the University of Illinois. These talented, ambitious and earnest kids amaze and inspire me. I recommend their stories, which will remind you that–when it comes to artful journalism at least–the future is in good hands.
You can read what early readers of the book have to say below and read a sample chapter, as well as the Table of Contents to see if you want to put the book on your springtime to-read list. I hope so.
I want the stories of these geniuses and their remarkable resiliency and commitment to be known widely. I believe these people and folks like them are the silent embodiment of an American spirit that is disappearing.
I also believe that no matter what “craft” any of us pursues, we have much to learn from the minds and character of the men and women profiled in Acts of Creation.
Soon, I’ll be hard at work writing a new, new book tentatively titled Last Best Chance: At Self Mastery, Revelation and Bogey Golf. It’s going to be the tale of golfing duffer (that would be me!) as he attempts to become a bogey golfer (scoring an average of one over par on every hole) in a single summer of playing almost every day–exactly 100 rounds. (I know because I played them last summer.) I suppose that sounds easy to folks who don’t play golf or folks who are addicted to playing golf. Well, to an out-of-shape, 62-year-old guy, it was no walk in the park. But it was a memorable summer that reminded me that boundless hope, reaching for excellence, and limited and limitless possibilities are always with us.
So please browse around here — and don’t hesitate to shout out what you think in my “news and comments” page.
Not much use being a writer if nobody comes around to read your work.
Coming soon: Acts of Creation
The profiles in Acts of Creation help to reclaim the place of craftsmanship in a consumerist era that places higher value on profit and branding then it does on dedicated excellence. It reminds those of us who work at terminals all day of the glory of physical labor done with the hands and guided by the spirit and the heart. The craftsmen profiled in this book offer not only lessons about craftsmanship, but also about life.
Read a sample chapter on Sam Maloof — the genius furniture creator whose furniture makes some owners cry from its beauty — on my Acts of Creation page.