Immigrants, Jews, Negroes

In August 1912 Virginia Christian died in the electric chair at the penitentiary in Richmond, Virginia. When I talk about Forsaken, I tell readers this the point in the novel where it also becomes Charlie Mears’ story, because here is where his actions lead Jim Crow to single him out for retribution. In an earlier […]


Yesterday I listened to an NPR interview with author Peter Ross Range, who’s just published the book, 1924: The Year That Made Hitler. “This was the year of Hitler’s final transformation into the self-proclaimed savior and infallible leader who would interpret and distort Germany’s historical traditions to support his vision for the Third Reich,” reads […]

Buffalo Laughter

Last week I read Richard Nester’s collection of poems, Buffalo Laughter. In Floyd County, Virginia, where Richard and I grew up, there’s a hump-shaped peak known as Buffalo Mountain. Floyd County High School (FCHS), where we met, is home to the Fighting Buffaloes. A year ahead of me, Richard went from Buffalo to Cavalier, attending […]

Skeleton in the Closet

When I arrived at the University of Virginia in 1968, I sometimes whispered to myself the names I saw memorialized on facades and statues. Surely those were great men, I thought. Soon I had a part-time job in a lab located in the Barringer wing of the University hospital. I gave little heed to the […]

Grumpy Old Men?

Thursday morning, I’ll embark from the Raleigh, North Carolina, airport on a flight to New York City’s LaGuardia. There, Chris Kerr, my friend of 45 years, will meet me. We’re off to Somerset, New Jersey, for the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) meeting, and then on to Providence, Rhode Island, for a gathering of […]

Can We Handle Truth?

From the first chapter of the novel Forsaken, its young narrator, newspaper reporter Charlie Mears, is preoccupied with truth. He wonders if the tale an old neighbor spun about the 1831 slave insurrection in Southampton County, Virginia, is true. He even wonders if his own story of Virginia Christian’s trial and execution is true. Sometimes […]