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In hiding in South Carolina, near Brunson.


A guardian found way off the trail near Chilhowie Mountain, TN.

At Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico. No sign of people.

One morning in Minneapolis this appeared on a bridge railing near my house. Woof.

You've Got Mail--in England, anyway.


Stumbled upon this in a remote area of New Mexico.

"Found Objects: On Noticing"

I've been writing lately about the differences between looking, seeing, and noticing. We all look at thousands of things in a given week, see some of them, notice even fewer in our busy driven lives. It could be called being conscious, present, mindful, open. The most interesting aspect of photography, I think, is that it can help us notice what we see, the angles and compositions inherent in matter and in living things, the mysteries and the surprises. Below are a few things I've accidentally stumbled upon; I once had writing students invent stories to go with each.


Found behind a derelict, abandoned gas station (that still had an "Esso" pump out front) in southern Minnesota, as though the Esso man (person?) had just been out there for a smoke.


In a remote area of Okracoke Island (NC), on thickly-wooded land near the ocean that didn't seem to belong to anyone, was a small weathered picket fence enclosure containing two pet graves. "Ikey" was dearer for being carved by hand.


In Taos, New Mexico, in around 2002, various homemade signs began appearing in a vacant lot on the main road through town. All were religious, mostly Catholic, some with small altars. This is apparently a prayer for the universe.


An abandoned one-room shack on a two-lane road in Kansas near the railroad tracks--nothing within a hundred miles. I've passed it on cross-country drives, from Minnesota to New Mexico, four times over ten years, and nothing is ever different about it, it doesn't fall down despite the fierce winds of the Great Plains.


On an afternoon near Palm Springs, California, this flying saucer cloud hovered overhead for quite a while. It floated away intact, never broke into smaller pieces.


A friendly greeting on an abandoned barn (I can't recall where I was, somewhere in the Midwest). Didn't see a soul, though I thought better of lingering all the same.

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.)