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A few select writing samples...

Dan Cushman and Stay Away, Joe
A literary essay

     The notion of woke-ishness, or woke-dom, or whichever suffix one chooses to grab and attach, has permeated and divided a society that already seemed predisposed to fracture anyway. The field of literature is certainly no exception. More.

"No More, Ever"
An excerpt from Nothing Got Broke

    Harold and Joe pulled into the parking lot at the battlefield just before 9:30 in a GMC pickup whose various sections—hood, driver’s side door, roof—were painted in shades of black and primer gray. Except for the tailgate, which was yellow. A gun rack was visible in the back window. Ours were the only two vehicles in the lot, but Harold pulled up and lurched to a halt just about 18 inches away from us, pointed in the opposite direction. As he squeezed out he kept one hand mashed down on his hat while the wind grasped at it.

    He grinned as I brought my window down. “Mornin,’ Mr. Ross!” he said. “Kinda breezy today!” He had to raise his voice; the wind seemed to swat the words away from his mouth. More

On Ivan Doig, Montana and Mariah
A review

    Ivan Doig's writing issues out of Montana like a squall out of the mountains. He constructs misty sheets of prose that alter one's sight lines -- you're looking at the same place, the West, but under the manipulation of his gauzy and refracted light you see it entirely differently. More

The Myopic Leaders of Public Education
An opinion piece

    The education leaders of Santa Clara County set out over 10 years ago on "SJ2020," an ambitious project to eliminate the achievement gap. But today the gap is worse than ever. So what the heck happened?

    Well, as is so often the case with education “reform,” the adults happened. Once the grown-ups wreaked their various forms of havoc, SJ2020 never had a chance. More. 

My Year as a Teacher
A five-part newspaper series

     Years ago, I took a leave from my newspaper job to fulfill a longtime goal of teaching. After earning a temporary credential, I found a job teaching ''language arts'' to seventh-graders. 

    What was my school year like? I learned the 23 helping verbs; the use of slang such as ''hecka tight;'' and how to improve student test scores, even though the usefulness of that information often was dubious. But mostly, I learned that teaching is hard.

    Even if you teach poorly (and I'm something of an expert here), it's hard. To teach well is ridiculously hard. It's probably equivalent to batting .380 and driving in 140 runs for the Giants. Or singing the role of Violetta in a major opera company's production of ''La Traviata.'' The difference between those feats and teaching is that hardly anybody knows it if you're teaching well. Even the students don't know. More.


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