Walking Rain, Taos

The D.H. Lawrence Memorial

Embracing New Mexico Aspens

Taos Graveyard

"Literary Life and Death: On Suicide and Salvation in a Life of Words"

An essay originally published in the literary journal SPECTACLE, in a themed issue entitled "Madness and the Creative Imperative." It was written while I was in residence at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, New Mexicio, and was inspired by the suicide of writer Michael Dorris combined with my friendship with my next-door neighbor at the colony, an 89-year-old writer who had written 12 novels but had never published any of them. Her real name was Ruth Lambert, sadly deceased now, and she drove a neon-orange VW bug and always had fishing flies sticking out of her pockets. She had once met Georgia O'Keeffe in person, and was very proud of a signed photograph of herself and O'Keeffe. She taught me a lot about how to live as a writer.

A portion of my essay is set at the D.H. Lawrence Memorial outside Taos, which is pictured on this page. The essay examines what "success" means in the contemporary world of writing and how an author's mental state can and does contribute to the writing life she leads. Part of what's kept me sane for years has been my frequent long stays in Taos, a place I love as though born to it.


Taos Mountains

In O'Keeffe country, at Ghost Ranch near Abiquiu

Taos Morada

All photographs are the work of the author, who has photographed New Mexico, particularly Taos, for years. Images Linda Lightsey Rice.

Selected Works

NOVELS
A family is torn apart by madness and prejudice in 1950s South Carolina. "Against the Ruins is gorgeous, lush writing that almost takes your breath away." --Natalie Goldberg
A psychological drama set in the mystical Low County of South Carolina in which a small town is devastated by its first confrontation with violence. "Southern Exposure is a terrific novel. . . ." --Pat Conroy
STORIES AND ESSAYS
Why do writers kill themselves? An essay about success and failure in the literary life. (Includes photos of New Mexico.) Read entire essay here.
An excerpt from an upcoming novel about a Tennessee family whose emotional connection to their landscape is as strong as the devastation, and subsequent mental instability, endured by the family patriarch during World War II. (Includes photos of Tennessee.)
PRESENTATIONS
Minnesota Mentor Series Lecture, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. (Includes photos of Minneapolis.)