Out of Place

Letter to an Apprentice

I am writing to you at the beginning of something. As one who has been through many beginnings, some more successful than others, I can confirm something you may be starting to suspect: there is nothing harder than beginning. The…

Largeness and Light

I have lived in North Carolina for thirteen years. I know because my daughter is thirteen now and was only three months old when we moved here. A handy mnemonic device. I teach at a public university in this recently…

Losing the House

The house is like a novel. For many years I called it “my father’s house,” but that was wrong. It is my mother’s house, and it has always been. It is my mother’s novel. It is my mother’s house,

Mapping the Country

Wallace Stegner believed that writing from and about the American West was ignored, and as he became known throughout his home region, he chafed against being considered regional—when considered at all—by the East. I remember watching a television interview with…


There is always something missing. Is there always something missing? Yesterday I was lying in a hammock in a beautiful courtyard. It is summer now, but it was a coolish day, and a row of birches stood off to my left,