Brooklyn Rail // Review of First Person Singular by Haruki Murakami

April 1, 2021

“For all our reminiscing, Murakami seems to say, it’s the things we don’t remember that might haunt us the most. After all, memory is itself another liminal space, one where we experience both now and then at the same time. Likewise, finishing First Person Singular requires thinking back to everything we’ve just read about these characters’ lives, and to everything we didn’t.”

Brooklyn Rail // Review of Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

March 1, 2021

March 2021

“So the question here isn’t if Klara wants to be real, but what it means to be real in the first place when our definition of real is already so enhanced by technology. How might we distinguish nature and artificial intelligence when we so clearly desire to hack our bodies and minds in order to exceed our natural abilities? Let me put that another way. Scientists used to believe that some huge dinosaurs had secondary walnut-sized brains in their asses to control the motor functions of their tails and hind legs, but I now know that wasn’t the case because I googled it on the secondary PTS-laden brain I carry around in my pocket. I’m not proud of my reliance on this device and, to that point, Klara and the Sun makes me wonder why we want to be puppets just as badly as puppets want to be us?”

Brooklyn Rail // Interviewed by Matthew Simmons about “Lost Tomb of the Bitchin’ Chimera”

November 12, 2020

“As in fiction, I have a particular fondness for flawed and unlikeable characters. In writing “Lost Tomb of the Bitchin’ Chimera,” I tried to meet the players and their characters halfway, and to leave them plenty of room to make mistakes and inspire each other. That’s the fun, and it’s not entirely dissimilar from what I hope to accomplish in my fiction as well.”

New York Times Book Review // The Shortlist

October 7, 2020

I reviewed three debut novels for the Oct. 7, 2020 issue of the New York Times Book Review.

Brooklyn Rail // Down Away from the Sun You’ll Burrow: A Conversation with Lawrence Schick

May 5, 2020

I spoke with Lawrence Schick (aka Lawrence Ellsworth) about working for Gary Gygax in the early days of Dungeons & Dragons, writing one of that game’s most famous adventures, world building, writing for video games, and, now, translating several million words of Dumas.

“My first writing job was working for Gary Gygax on material for Dungeons & Dragons:I revised his work and that of his friends, who got all the plum assignments in the early days, and wrote some stuff of my own. The most important thing you learn working on story games is to approach everything as a collaboration, with the players as your collaborators. I can’t emphasize this enough. You’re not writing a story, you’re creating the background and narrative tools and materials that others will use to tell a story among themselves, a story that doesn’t really exist until they tell it. It’s like writing horn charts for jazz, music that really only exists when the musicians play it, hearing each other and riffing in collaboration. When you write a scenario for a role-playing game, you’re creating a structure that others will extemporize upon to create their personal version of the narrative. So you have to leave room for their contributions, including enough pointers to help them shape the story because they’re not professional storytellers.”