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Born in Michigan on the same day as Steve McQueen, Andrew Carnegie, Harry Houdini and Fatty Arbuckle. Raised in Jackson, birthplace of the Republican party and home to the largest prison in the world beneath one roof — two facts I've always suspected were linked.


Undergraduate work in English at Miami University in Oxford, OH; graduate work in public communications at Boston University; master's in creative writing at Vermont College in Montpelier. I've taught writing at MIT and at Emerson College.

Day Jobs

Started out writing and producing radio and TV spots for a Boston ad agency. Later worked as a talent agent, a waiter in a Mexican restaurant and a freelance feature writer, eventually becoming Director of Communications at the MIT School of Architecture Planning, a terrific place to work.


Nonfiction: Tracy Kidder, Jan Morris, Calvin Trillin, Joan Didion, for starters. Fiction: Anne Tyler, Tobias Wolff, Olive Kittridge, The Hours, The Corrections, Plainsong and (especially) the earlier work of Russell Banks. But I take my cues as much from actors as from other writers, learning how actors develop their characters for the screen and the stage as a way of exploring how to develop characters for the page.


Short fiction in The North American Review, The Louisville Review and All The Ways Home (New Victoria Press).

Feature Writer for much of the Boston press, as well as the New York Times Syndicate, Technology Review and The Hartford Courant.

Photo and feature contributor, Newsweek International.

Columnist for The Boston Monthly.

Author of two novels, both of which have been adapted by others for performance, and of a nonfiction study which has become, now after twenty years, a staple in its field.

A Favorite Quote

'To anyone interested in writing, I say: Prepare to suffer.' — Junot Diaz