Showing posts from November, 2014

Dreaming of Firenze?

On Thanksgiving Eve, as I make cranberry relish, my grandmother's Italian-style stuffing, and Mississippi Mud Cake, I've been taking brief breaks between all the grating, mixing, and sauteeing to dip into The Stones of Florence by the inimitable Mary McCarthy.

See the underlining?  I made it in 1985, when I was just back from my first trip to Europe, a solo backpacking expedition that turned me into the rabid Italophile I've been ever since.  

Now I'm revisiting McCarthy's classic book as I choose texts for a travel-writing class I'm planning--a study tour to Italy that will run from June 28 to July 29.  We will be based in Rome, with excursions to Sorrento, Assisi, Pompeii, Orvieto, Capri, and, of course, Firenze!

Are you dreaming of Firenze too?  There's still space left in my class.  Any college student in a degree-granting program (graduate or undergraduate) is welcome to apply.  We'll be reading some wonderful travel memoirs, writing our own short tra…

River Town Road Trip: St. Mary's College, Maryland

My teaching and travels have taken up all my time lately, which is why it's been a while since I posted here.  I'm just back from my most recent trip, to St. Mary's College, Maryland's public honors college, in the gorgeous river town of St. Mary's City.

Leaving home is always the hardest part of any road trip. When Nico saw me packing my bags, he tried his darnedest to discourage me from going.

But once I got past my bodyguard, the trip was a breeze. What could be better than chatting about poetry and fiction with the spirited and bright students of St. Mary's?  I also gave an evening reading, and spent a lovely last morning with the College's Arts Alliance discussing poems inspired by fairy tales and myth.

And I was able to spend a little time exploring one of the prettiest campuses I've ever seen.  


A year a good today this handsome fellow became a part of our family.  In some ways it feels like we've only just adopted him, and in other ways it feels like he's been one of us forever.  Though he gets in his share of trouble, we can't imagine life without Nico.

Even Reuben, who was slow to warm to his new sibling, seems to like having him around 99.5% of the time.

A Veterans Day Salute

No, I'm not in D.C.  I'm in bed, watching the Concert for Valor on t.v., thinking with gratitude of the veterans I've known.

First and foremost, my Dad, Edward Lindner, who served in World War II, at first in the Engineers' Corps, then in the big Red One, and finally as a sergeant in Company L, 16th Infantry Regiment, guarding prisoners in Hammelburg, Germany.  

Though he was a man of (very) few words, he did speak once or twice to me about his time in the army--of creamed chipped beef on toast (which he liked), of how much he enjoyed seeing Europe while on leave--Scotland, England, France, even Italy.  He never spoke about combat, though--not even to my mother.

I wish I'd asked him to tell me more about those days when I had the chance.

Thank you to all veterans for your service.

Still Precious: Chrissie Hynde at the Tower

At age 63, Chrissie Hynde is still a badass, still the reigning queen of cool.  So when our ticket taker at Upper Darby's Tower Theater informed us that Chrissie had requested we not take cell phone photos at her show, I wasn't about to risk pissing her off.

Andre and I have been looking forward to seeing Chrissie and the Pretenders for a long time.  More years ago than I care to count, we saw them with a bunch of our college friends from the front few rows of the University of New Hampshire field house.

The band was incredible.  I was nineteen, surrounded by friends, seeing a band we all loved more or less from the front row.  The good vibes are basically all I remember.

 Fast forward to 2014. The show began with new material--all of it top-notch--from Chrissie's Stockholm album.  

I'm happy to report that Chrissie Hynde still has one of the most distinctive and expressive voices in rock.  Not to mention her commanding stage presence.

But as great as the new material is, I…

November Odds and Ends

Though my season of ceaseless book signings is behind me, I do have one more very special (to me at least!) event planned.  I'll be signing copies of Catherine and Jane at Saint Joseph's University (where I teach) on 11/11 at 11 a.m., in the bookstore.  If you live in or near Philadelphia, consider dropping by.  (Luckily, there's free retail parking behind the bookstore.)

Also, as the release date for Love, Lucy approaches, I've been busy putting together the playlist of songs that Lucy would have heard on her travels through Italy.  That playlist will be featured on a book blog near you, as the amazing Alexis and Ashley of With Her Nose Stuck in a Book are planning a musical Book Blast closer to the release day (January 27, 2015).

Rock Star Book Tours has also got something special planned for Lucy's debut: a book blast about how the novel was informed by my own misadventures backpacking solo through Europe at age 22.  I might have to dig up some embarassing old ph…

From Asbury Park to Ardmore: Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes

Though my favorite hobby is taking off to Asbury Park at a moment's notice to catch a show at the Stone Pony or Asbury Lanes or the Wonder Bar, I've always felt like something of a poser when it comes to the Jersey Shore Music Scene.   Why? Because I'm a relative newcomer to the scene.  Because I have never actually lived in Jersey or even summered on the Shore.  And, most of all, because I've never seen Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.

Until a few weeks ago, that is.

Southside and the Jukes played the Ardmore Music Hall, a quirky little venue just fifteen minutes from our house, and this time we were there, in the front row.  

Everything about the show was fun and so familiar to anyone who loves the Asbury Scene, probably because Southside IS the scene.  He was one of the handful who helped invent it. 

To anyone who loves the Jersey Shore sound, seeing Southside and the Jukes is like a homecoming.

There are the horns.

And the setlist, which included familiar songs l…

Reading Poetry in Bed (With Cold Rain, Potatoes, and a Poem by Mekeel McBride)

On this day of ceaseless, cold rain, I'm ignoring the housework that needs to be done in favor of something much more important: reading poetry in bed.  

First I devoured Trespass, the debut collection from a young poet named Thomas Dooley.  Thom was my student--already a confident and promising writer--way back in the first poetry workshop I taught at Saint Joseph's University.  
The manuscript that became Trespass was chosen by Charlie Smith for the prestigious National Poetry Series, and soon Thom will be visiting us at St. Joe's, taking a victory lap, and reading his poems to our current crop of promising young writers.

Tresspass is a brave and beautiful book, and I'll say more about it here when Thom comes to visit later in November.

My other book du jour is Dog Star Delicatessen, a new and selected from Mekeel McBride, my own very first poetry professor.  

Mekeel's poems are very much like she was as an instructor--warm, playful, always on the lookout for happy ac…