They Were Warriors | Chicago Magazine

Click here to read “They Were Warriors”

I’m so thrilled to share this, finally. I compiled an oral history for Chicago Magazine of the 1990 ACT UP demonstration that’s a pivotal scene in The Great Believers. This month marks its 30th anniversary, and I had no idea as I worked on it how much more relevant these stories of health care battles would be by the time the article appeared.

This was the major project of my winter, and I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of anything I’ve published. That’s largely because very few of these words are my own; I’m deeply indebted to Owen Keehnen, Lori F. Cannon, William McMillan, Steve Migalski, Roberto Sanabria, Justin Hayford, Mary Patten, Jeff Edwards, Jeanne Kracher, and Saundra Johnson for their words and time and memories, as well of course as their ongoing activism. Writing this was an education in so many ways.

I hope you’ll read this (it’s empowering, I do promise) and share their words widely. Today is World Health Day; let’s keep fighting, in honor of the past and the future.


Posted in Essays, Media, News on April 7 2020

“My Book, the Movie” for THYH

The actual film world is brutal and unpredictable. But the imaginary film world is a marvelous place where I get to bring Grace Kelly back to life. You can read about my vision for THYH as a movie here — and, in a related project, you can judge for yourself whether the book passes the Page 69 Test.

Posted in Essays on July 19 2014

Essay on Cheever and Mad Men for Salon

Click here to read my essay for Salon about John Cheever and Mad Men!

Posted in Essays on May 31 2014· Tagged: , ,

Essay in Tin House

tin house memoryMy essay on George R. Stewart’s Ordeal by Hunger, a 1936 account of the Donner Party, is available now in Tin House #59 and online. The entire issue, focused on the theme of memory, is fabulous and worth devouring and available at indie bookstores worth their salt, and orderable from the Tin House website.

Posted in Essays on March 5 2014· Tagged: , , , ,

New story in Harper’s; related interview at The Nervous Breakdown

Harpers-1307-302x410I have a new story (a memoir/short story hybrid) called “Other Types of Poison” in the July issue of Harper’s Magazine. (Part is available online, though most is behind a pay wall.) The story is complicated — not just in the telling, but in the creation as well — and I break some of it down, nervously, on The Nervous Breakdown in an interview with Davis Schneiderman. The interview includes more historical detail about my grandparents (the subjects of the story), as well as photographs of both of them, and of me as a chubby baby and scrawny kid.

Posted in Essays, Interviews, News on June 18 2013· Tagged: , , , , , ,

Blogging for Ploughshares

ploughsharesThis year, I’ll be blogging regularly (18 posts total) for the fabulous Ploughshares blog. (And there are new posts from others every day — about poetry, fiction, literary boroughs, and more.) You can view all my posts by clicking here.

Posted in Essays on February 9 2013· Tagged: , , ,

“Mapping a Novel” in the Wall Street Journal

My essay “Mapping a Novel” — on sketching out fictional houses — was featured in the December 1st issue of the Wall Street Journal, as part of their excellent Word Craft series. I write about my drafting process, and also a bit about the novel-in-progress, The Happensack. Read the full article here!

Posted in Essays on December 9 2012· Tagged: , ,

Essay for Chicago Artists Resource

I was asked to contribute an “Artist Story” to Chicago Artists Resource. “Reclaiming Chicago” is about my early years of what I call Brooklyn Envy, and my all-too-slow embracing of what this amazing city has to offer writers.

Posted in Essays on September 6 2012· Tagged: ,

Makkai on the Art of the Sentence for Tin House

I contributed to Tin House‘s fabulous series on The Art of Sentence, writing about one of my favorite sentences of all fiction, five words from Salman Rushdie’s Shalimar the Clown. Read my essay here, and check out the rest of the series here!

Posted in Essays on January 13 2012

Essay in Poets & Writers Magazine

I wrote the back page for the September issue of Poets & Writers magazine. Click here to read my essay on the importance of an online writing community (at least for those of us with babies on our shoulders).

Posted in Essays on August 31 2011

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