Masha Hamilton headshot
July 2nd, 2013 | 7:00am

Last month Masha Hamilton published her fifth novel, What Changes Everything, while working around the clock as the Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. Against a background of suicide bomb attacks and early Fourth of July celebrations in Kabul, Masha talked to Melody Nixon long-distance about Afghanistan, storytelling as a human right, and the delicate act of writing in a war zone.

reviewed by Melinda Misener
July 1st, 2013 | 7:00am

Philipp Meyer’s engrossing first novel, American Rust, was about an accidental killing and its consequences for a tight-knit Pennsylvania community. Similarly, Meyer’s new novel, The Son, set in Texas, is concerned with killing and family. Much of what I’d admired in American Rust is present in The Son: the way Meyer hands the narrative from character to character, chapter by chapter, and the characters’ dark eloquence about the sins and the triumphs of mankind.

The Son’s scope is much bigger: it spans close to two hundred years (versus a few months) and encompasses multiple communities (white settlers, Mexicans, and Indian tribes). And this book begins with the slaughters of two families. No accident, these deaths.

Photo by Scott Geiger
June 28th, 2013 | 7:00am

“We talk about Brickstarter as if it already exists because we are sure it will in a few years time.”


I was excited to see +Pool return this month for a second session of crowdfunding on Kickstarter. I’ve nodded to the project in this column once or twice before. It’s a design proposal for a quadrupled community pool, four pools in one, floating in New York’s East River off Brooklyn Bridge Park. The exterior surface of the pool structure contains a filtration system; you would actually swim in East River’s water. “Instead of trying to clean the entire river,” say +Pool’s designers says in their latest video, “what if you started by cleaning a small piece of it? What if you could change the way New Yorkers see the river by giving them a chance to swim in it?”

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons user Riza Nugraha
June 26th, 2013 | 7:00am

I knew enough from Facebook to recognize the muddy maroon Jeep with the top off when it ran the long red light at North and Main. I was about to turn right when zoom, straight through with a lead foot. I honked loudly and repeatedly until a freckled arm raised a middle finger through the open roof, so I broke New York’s latest traffic law and thumb-punched a text: “Its me u idiot pull over.”

He turned into the Kwik Fill, and I pulled in beside him, rolled my window down. I’d moved back to Ithaca three years ago to watch my father die, but we hadn’t seen each other in seven. Still he said, “Hey, boss” like this happened all the time, like I’d left his trailer yesterday, post-sex with my shirt on inside-out.

June 24th, 2013 | 7:00am

There are countless books written on what to do after an extra-marital affair, advice custom built for the betrayed and the betrayer.  I’m not sure if any of them suggest quitting jobs, selling the house, and moving 2500 miles west to Oregon.  But that’s what we did.  A friend who lived there said, “There’s something to be said about traveling across the entire continent, coming to the point where there is no more land, and throwing all of your problems into the Pacific Ocean.  There’s no choice but to start over.”