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Good Kids

The Paris Review, "God," short story, Fall Issue, 2013

We called her God because she wrote a poem about how Caleb Newton ejaculated prematurely the night she slept with him, and because she shared the poem with her friends.(read more)

    Good Kids  

"Ollie the Owl"

The short story "Ollie the Owl," originally published in Tin House in January, 2009, has been republished at the end of the paperback edition of American Nerd

Good Kids
Illustration by:
Kayla Carpitella

The L Magazine, "The Rugby Witch," short story, Summer Fiction Issue, 2010

Yuri stood on the porch and listened to the women chant. It was rush week, and the sororities on either side of his fraternity were performing induction rites on freshman girls. The words must have been about sisterhood, but he couldn't make them out. (read more)




Slate, on the DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry by Gary Greenberg, May, 2013

When I think of psychiatry, my first thoughts are unkind. I think of mildly sad people on antidepressants. I think of upper-middle-class parents putting their kids on Ritalin as soon as they flunk math, or misremember the lyrics to Dave Matthews songs. Pills seem so overabundant in our country that it’s possible to forget there are Americans who really and desperately need a pharmacological fix for an illness of the mind.
(read more)


The New York Times, on the adulterous sins of our father figures, April, 2013

Several years ago, my mother’s partner sent me an e-mail confessing to an emotional affair. He wrote that although he and my mother were breaking up, he wished to remain my friend.

I reminded him that his infraction had been with a woman 30 years his junior. (My mother had already told me about it.)

“I expect more,” I wrote to him, “from a feminist and an intellectual.” We didn’t stay in touch.
(read more)


Salon, on whispering sweet post-structuralist nothings, February, 2013

My favorite love song of the past few years is “Video Games,” by Lana Del Ray because of the third line of the chorus. It’s the song’s most burlesque moment, a come-on that should feel scuzzy and hackneyed, that should ruin everything: “I heard that you like the bad girls, honey.” But it catapults the song over all the barricades I’ve erected in my soul against love songs and against songs in which the singer self-identifies as “bad.” The reason is that the melody in which this particular line is sung cuts against its meaning.
(read more)


The New York Times, on the upside of distraction, February, 2013

Writing a book consists largely of avoiding distractions. If you can forget your real circumstances and submerge yourself in your subject for hours every day, characters become more human, sentences become clearer and prettier. But utter devotion to the principle that distraction is Satan and writing is paramount can be just as poisonous as an excess of diversion.
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    schoolofrock, on school of rock for grads, October, 2012

There is nothing quite like being a young rock musician walking into a good recording studio for the first time, with a record contract in your backpack, surveying the machinery. The towers of digital and analog sound-effect consoles, with their glowing gauges and blinking lights, they're here for you—paid for by the label, available to you because you cut a basement demo that made people see dollar signs. (read more)

    hoodie, on the hoodie, May, 2012

When Facebook's 27-year-old CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, wore a hoodie at a presentation to investors during the lead-up to Facebook's initial public offering, a financial analyst publicly accused Zuckerberg of immaturity. (read more)


New York Times Op/Ed, on overdiagnosis, March, 2012

FOR a brief, heady period in the history of autism spectrum diagnosis, in the late ’90s, I had Asperger syndrome. (read more)


Tablet, on Rejean Ducharme's The Swallower Swallowed, February, 2009

It’s impossible to find an English-language copy of Réjean Ducharme’s 1966 debut novel The Swallower Swallowed (L’Avaleé des avalés, in the original French) for sale in New York City. (read more)


Tablet, on rock songs addressing the Holocaust, October, 2008

For forty-odd years, people have been writing hit rock songs about war (“Fortunate Son,” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Ohio,” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath), although they often sound most at home when they’re singing about youth, love, America, sex, driving, revolution, and not knowing what they want to do after college, because those subjects beget cries to action—let’s do something, now! (read more)


The New York Times Magazine, on notions of whiteness and nerdiness, July, 2007

What is a nerd? Mary Bucholtz, a linguist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has been working on the question for the last 12 years. (read more)


n+1, on fiction and Republicans, March, 2006

Recently I embarked on a monthlong hunt for Republican writers of what’s commonly called literary fiction. (read more)


Time, on talking about music with my father, February, 2001

While my father is not the Nugent who sang Cat Scratch Fever, he and I have had more conversations about rock 'n' roll than about anything else. (read more)