About This Blog

I gave some thought to the focus of this blog, what ties its content together and what a regular reader might come to expect here. It is occasionally about the pleasures and pitfalls of the writing life, but more often it is about the stories we tell, the language we use and how they shape the way we see the world and interact with one another.

I am fascinated when I discover cultural blind spots– especially my own– as reflected in the most popular article ever posted here: The Invisible Famine in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. (That was true when I first wrote this. Now the most popular article on this site is Each Man Kills the Thing He Loves.)

Story and Self will regularly examine areas where a single story has permeated our culture, whether it be about tortured ballet dancers or  what it means for a story to have a happy end.

It questions assumptions about what it means to be a failure, what we say to women about beauty, the identity categories we maintain, and what we mean when we evoke the notion of “tradition.

I like to look to other cultures and other time periods for what they reveal about things we take for granted.

This blog will examine the words we use, the sometimes icky ways we frame our discussions, and will not be satisfied with an either/or choice when the real question should be in what context?

I will inevitably also include occasional discussions related to whatever book I happen to be working on at the moment or odd subjects that capture my interest. (Adam Ant and David Hallberg for example.)

So that’s it in a nutshell– writing, reading, the stories we tell and the powerful impact stories have on our lives.


  1. I am very much enjoying your blog. Is there any way to subscribe to it so that I receive notice of new posts? I’ve browsed your site yet cannot seem to find a way.

  2. I found this blog by chance while I was looking for information about the correspondence between George Bernard Shaw and Lord Alfred Douglas and I’ve spent the last few days reading your posts from January 2017 onwards.
    At first I was only interested in what you had to say about Oscar Wilde and his circle, but I found your considerations on writing, gender dynamics, cultural differences and the like deeply thought-provoking. It also provided insight into American culture which was very interesting (I’m Italian).
    I’ve had Oscar’s Ghost on my wishlist for months and now I finally purchased a copy and I’m planning to read it when I go on vacation.

    (Sorry for any mistakes – as I said, English is not my first language)

    1. Thank you for commenting. The correspondence between Douglas and Shaw was one of the first sparks that interested me in the whole topic of the Douglas and his battle with how history would remember him. I loved the dynamic between those two writers. I’m glad you are finding the other topics interesting as well and hope you will like Oscar’s Ghost.

  3. When I was in my mid 20’s to mid 30’s (I am now 59 years old) I became absolutely fascinated by the works of Oscar Wilde. I read everything about him and by him. I even bought a few rare copies of books by him. It wasn’t until I happened to find your site just moments ago, that I realised I have not yet read everything about him worth reading and will be buying a copy of your book very soon. I loved the article about “Every man kills the thing he loves”. I had never really found an explanation of the phrase that I believed before. Until today it was a mystery what he meant. I am looking forward to reading Oscar’s Ghost. Maybe you would consider writing about the the life and works of Lord George Gordon Byron (another favourite of mine I have studied as an amateur reader/historian). His letters are absolutely riveting. I once owned a first edition of his letters published in 1821 or was it 1824 – ha, anyway, thank you for rekindling my interest in Oscar Wilde after so many years

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read the posts. I’ve been particularly interested in the effect of Oscar Wilde’s incarceration on the people in his orbit, hence the book. I’ve been working on a book on one of the more obscure members of his circle for a while. I am about 3/4 done with it, which seems to be a dangerous time when one often loses a bit of steam. We’ll see if that one is next, or if the fiction thing I’m working on emerges first, or if I get distracted by other work and they lay fallow… I hope you will find Oscar’s Ghost interesting.

      1. Thank you for taking the time to reply. You certainly are a fascinating writer, now that I have looked around more at your website and your work, I will be reading a few of your books.

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