When you make a spectacle of yourself…

70s glasses

My ten-year-old son recently got glasses. It’s not a surprise: my wife and I both wear them. And while two wrongs don’t make a right, apparently two nearsighteds make a farsighted. I was nine when I got my first glasses. I was in third grade, my first year in the old, long-gone Gibson Elementary School in Tennessee. Now, with the … Read More

The Two Sides of Every Heart a Doorway

Every Heart a Doorway

In Seanan McGuire’s brilliant (and now award-winning) short novel Every Heart a Doorway, teens who’d once escaped reality to various fairytale realms find themselves back in our world, attending a special boarding school to help them re-acclimate to “reality.” They’re all desperate to return to those places where they felt accepted for who and what they were, and one of … Read More

Some thoughts on Christmas, as the vile triumph around us

bully

In 1992, Bruce Springsteen released a song called “Souls of the Departed,” on his album, Lucky Town. After describing the death of a seven-year-old boy killed in a gang-related drive-by, he observes, His mama cried, “My beautiful boy’s dead” In the hills the self-made men just sighed and shook their heads But then, as always, Springsteen brings it down to … Read More

A True Story of Frog-Gigging and Disappointment

Frog Gig on Stick

I wrote the following piece for a memoir class taught by Michelle Wildgen, best-selling author of Bread and Butter and You’re Not You (soon to be a movie starring Hilary Swank). When I was a kid growing up in rural Tennessee, my dad determined that I would follow in his footsteps and leave a trail of dead small animals behind … Read More

Introducing the Siren

photo-10

As some of you may know, last year my wife’s sister was tragically killed in a car accident. She left behind a little girl, now twenty months old, whom we have adopted, thus adding a fifth member to Team Pipsoe. So, friends and fans, I’d like you to meet my daughter, Amelia. When I talk about my kids online, I … Read More

Review: My Old True Love by Sheila Kay Adams

Writing prose about music is, to borrow an analogy, dangerously close to trying to teach a fish to ride a bicycle. If you could say it in regular words, there’d be no need to sing it. And music can do some things far more efficiently than any other art form. For example, it takes over seven hours to tell the … Read More

The Blurring of Lines

The C-in-C back when we were full-time co-workers.

Recently, while reading the Janet Sternburg-edited collection The Writer on Her Work, I had an unexpected epiphany (I know, epiphanies are always unexpected, but work with me). It was the realization that my life in 2012 is almost exactly Anne Tyler’s in 1980.   Tyler, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Breathing Lessons and The Accidental Tourist, contributed the book’s first … Read More

The Dickens, I Say

The first edition of Dickens' masterpiece

The most famous Christmas story, besides the Biblical one, is without a doubt A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens distilled the holiday spirit down to its essence with his tale of the miserly Scrooge who reforms his ways just in time for Christmas dinner. I love reading the actual story at Christmas, and watching my favorite* film version: [media url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbaa-T5wSE8″] Yet … Read More

The Ubiquitous Daddy Issues Club

At my Christening, 1963. My dad's in the middle. I'm the short one.

Recently I mentioned to author Patrick Somerville (This Bright River) that Dean Bakopoulos’s first book, Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon, resonated with me because I have unresolved issues with my own late father. Patrick said, “Yeah, like every other writer.” It wasn’t mockery: he was saying, in essence, “Welcome to a club of which you were already a … Read More