The old soft shoe

Hi! It’s been half a year since I sent out an issue of this newsletter. Evidently I still haven’t quite figured out what it’s for.

My new idea is to send out a selection of my nature photos once a week, as well as recent personal news, if I have any. (Apologies if you’re seen or heard some of this before!) Above is a black-crowned night heron, doing the old soft shoe on a branch floating in the Lullwater in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Clicking on any photo in this newsletter should take you to the original post on Steamboats Are Ruining Everything.

A twelve-spotted skimmer, in Rockefeller State Park Preserve. I have a new article in the New Yorker titled “An Accidental Activist” (in the June 29th print issue; online title: “Frank Kameny’s Orderly, Square Gay-Rights Activism”). It’s a review of The Deviant’s War, a new biography by Eric Cervini of a buttoned-down man who lost his career in astronomy after he was caught cruising a men’s room, and who spent his life championing gay rights.

A cloud of gnats, in Prospect Park’s Nethermead. By the way, if you want the complete photos, rather than the selected, and you want them daily, it’s possible to subscribe to Steamboats by typing your email address into its right-hand column. (If you’re reading this, you’re subscribed to this newsletter, called Leaflet, which is a different entity.) I also post the photos on Instagram.

A teenage gray catbird, Prospect Park. Two friends of mine are publishing new story collections this week, both of which I highly recommend. They’re also both holding virtual book events in the next couple of days. At 7:30pm on Wednesday night, July 8, at the Center for Fiction, Ben Nugent is talking about his funny and heart-breaking new collection, Fraternity (FSG), which re-imagines the inner life of a group of bros. And at 7:30pm on Thursday night, July 9, at Community Bookstore, Andrew Martin is talking about his melancholy and sharp-edged new collection Cool for America (also FSG), which furthers the adventures of some of the slacker would-be writers who figured in his debut novel Early Work.

Bubbles blown by turtles underwater, in Prospect Park. In the time before coronavirus, I was interviewed by the writer Barbara Nichol for a three-part Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio program called “Reading with a Grain of Salt,” about the social roles and meanings associated with literature. The show, which just finished airing last week, turned out to be quite interesting and, despite my participation, not dogmatic about any particular viewpoint. Other guests are Fran Lebowitz, John Carey, and Michael Dirda. Here are parts one and two; my cameo is mostly in part three.

I don’t know what plant this is—probably a rudbeckia of some kind? A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed the translator Donald Nicholson-Smith about his new translation of Serge Pey’s new story collection Treasure of the Spanish Civil War (Archipelago Books), and the interview is now streamable online.

A song sparrow with his mouth full, Prospect Park. Back in May, two late but great reviews of my novel Overthrow came in. Phil Christman, author of the new book Midwest Futures, discussed Overthrow and a few other books about technology and political power in a great essay for the Christian publisher Plough, writing of Overthrow, “It’s a Philip K. Dick plot as experienced by Henry James characters.” And Pekka Torvinen wrote what seems to be a generous review of Overthrow for the Finnish student magazine Ylioppilaslehti, though I can’t be sure, because it’s in Finnish.

There probably won’t be as much news next time, if I do this again. Maybe instead I will have Thoughts.