SUNDAY – THURSDAY
9 a.m. – 11 p.m.
FRIDAY – SATURDAY
9 a.m. – 12 a.m.
The Washington Independent Review of Books
I’m a writer and journalist living in Washington, D.C. I’ve written two nonfiction books, Debt Shock and The New Superregions of Europe, and two novels, the financial thriller Gold and the historical thriller The Grand Mirage.
I was born in Kansas and raised in St. Louis, earning my bachelor’s degree at Saint Louis University. I was a Fulbright Scholar in Germany and got a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Working as a journalist specialized in business and economics, I spent two decades in Paris and other European cities.
Because I write for a living, I resisted blogging for some time. I realized, however, that I wanted to talk about other passions, such as reading and food, and blogging is like a conversation with new unknown friends. It’s a way of texting with the world, sharing things you really like with anyone who’s interested. My two main blogs are my book blog, Cogito Ergo Sum, and my food blog, You Are What You Eat, but I maintain other blogs off and on or for specific occasions – such as my BAKpedal blog last year to chronicle my training and participation in the 500-mile Biking Across Kansas.
1. What’s one thing you love about independent bookstores?
Random access (aka browsing). The new buzzword is “curated.” It means that I have a chance to find books I don’t even know I want to read, that someone has selected not because the publisher pays them to put that book in front of me or because an algorithm tells them I might like it based on my previous purchases, but because it’s a good book.
2. What's your blogging philosophy?
Blogging is my part of a conversation with people out there in cyberspace who like the same things I do. I keep it simple, natural. It is communication, or self-expression, but I don’t care really if anyone ever reads it. I try to avoid TMI (too much personal information) and, to protect privacy, never give details about anyone else.
3. Who are your readers?
Who knows? That’s the beauty of it. Friends say they read my blogs. I get occasional comments from strangers here and overseas. I tweet links to my postings with appropriate hash tags. The Independent links to my book blog; a local wine store linked to my food blog. These two blogs each get anywhere from 20 to 100 page views a day – not all of them by me!
4. What’s your favorite D.C. blog?
I don’t really follow any blogs focused on DC. I find as a working journalist that blogs like that of (DC resident) Matt Yglesias on Slate have become a source of information and perspective as important as mainstream media. For fun, I follow (DC area resident) David O. Stewart’s eponymous blog on American history and the witty expat blog (Not by Occident) of a (DC resident) friend temporarily sojourning in Beijing, among others.
5. How can the analog medium of books & the digital mediums make beautiful creative babies?
Books are already digital, too. There are e-books, of course, and P&P’s print-on-demand machine Opus is an in-store digital publishing factory. The real “analog” component here is the brick-and-mortar bookstore, which has a continuing role precisely as a “curator” or filter to help readers find good books. For instance, bookstores could be very helpful in finding the gold amidst the dross of self-published works and stocking these as physical books, POD or e-books.
My “handsells” are all books I discovered at Politics & Prose that I otherwise might not have found:
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, this thriller portrays the corruption in contemporary Russia. Its lucid economy of language keeps the narrative moving while making every page a quiet delight
This tour de force is a dazzling pastiche of narratives, each with its own compelling voice, ranging from a 19th-century voyager to denizens of a post-apocalyptic future.
This charming tale of southern France creates a new genre of the “French cozy” in detective fiction while transporting the reader to an idyllic world nonetheless very true to life.