Scoundrel Time

Essays

Note from a Mother

My middle child is fascinated by his ethnicity. He looks the most Ecuadorian with his dark almond eyes and wide nose. He stretches his arm next to mine to see the contrast of his brown skin against my white. He teaches his younger brother to say...

The Future Is a Ceiling of Impossible Water

I was driving in a rented yellow convertible through the desert, near the eastern border of California. A bright spring morning: overhead, the sky was brilliant and blue, like a ceiling of impossible water. My forehead was damp. My hair was wild. My...

Disappointment

Remember, remember, the eighth of November; of gunpowder, treason and plot.[1] Benjamin, do you recall sixteen years ago how we sat all night before the black-and-white Great Wall television set (with its hues of light green on a warped electronic...

Depending on How You Look at It

In the weeks before Donald Trump became president of the United States, I travelled to Greece to volunteer and distribute some $35,000 in donations that a group of us from North Carolina had collected for humanitarian relief for refugees. These...

We Need a New Story

A few years ago, a writer friend gave me a bracelet that had a charm on it that said “stories save our souls.” I loved that phrase so much that I began to use it—and a variation (“stories save our lives”) when I signed books. I knew it was true...

I Lift My Lamp

  From the Oxford English Dictionary, digital edition. Asylum. < Latin asȳlum, < Greek ἄσῡλον refuge, sanctuary, neuter of adjective ἄσῡλος inviolable. 1. A sanctuary or inviolable place of refuge and protection for criminals and debtors...

Calm-Downers, Resisters, and Bags by the Door

“Jesus, what are we going to do now?” Out of the mouths of babes, or one babe in particular, comes the question du jour, and possibly du mois and de l’année, too. A day after the recent presidential election, what some grieving voters call...