Selected Links



Here Comes Another Lesson, Free Press
Orphan Trains; The Story of Charles Loring Brace and the Children He
Saved and Failed, Houghton Mifflin/​U. Chicago
Will My Name Be Shouted Out?, Simon & Schuster/​Touchstone
Rescue, New York: Harmony Books


"Love," Electric Literature
“Sawed-in-Half Girl,” Antioch Review
“Ziggurat,” The New Yorker
“Disappearance and,” Conjunctions
“White Fire,” TriQuarterly
“I Think I’m Happier,” Threepenny Review
“Trouble,” New England Review
“Man in the Moon,” Conjunctions
“He Will Not See Me Stopping Here,” Denver Quarterly
“Bestiary,” New England Review
"The Afterlife of Lytton Swain," The Massachusetts Review
"What Makes You Think You Deserve This?" The Quarterly
"Help," The Quarterly
"Rescue," The Quarterly
"Unknowing," Fiction International
"Bell's Door," ISBN 0-943568-01-3
"On the Wing," Partisan Review


“Natural Selection,” Knockout
“What Next?” “Sweet Nothing,” Green Mountains Review
“Cottage,” AGNI/​Online
“Biology,” Poetry
“Uz,” “Song of Songs,” “Promises,” “Idolatry,” “Eternal Return,” “Dust and Ashes.” Missouri Review
“Atheism,” “Too Late to Say,” Knockout
"Temporary Moments," Journal of Temporary Culture
"William Dunn," Hubbub (poem


“Against Assessment,” Beck, Heather, ed. Teaching Creative Writing in Higher Education
“Charles Loring Brace,” Shweder, Richard A., ed. The Chicago Companion to the Child
“Milosz’s Choice; An Investigation of Sentimentality,” AGNI
When Children Relied on Faith-Based Agencies," New York Times
"No Place Like Home," Chicago Tribune Magazine
"The Orphan Trains of Charles Loring Brace," Doubletake
"Words and the World at P.S. 313," Teachers & Writers Newsletter
“On the Outside Looking In by Cristina Rathbone,” New York Times Book Review
"Playwriting to Compassion," Education Week
"Problems Schools Can't Solve," New York Times
"That's the Way Life Really Is; Violence in the Classroom," Culturefront
"Death in the Everyday Schoolroom," The Nation

My Works

The Soros sisters’ eyes are the blue of lunar seas, their complexions cloud white, and their identical pageboys well-bottom black. The term “beautiful” has never been applied sincerely to either sister, though Ivy, the youngest by two years, might be deemed the better looking, because she has detectable cheekbones and a waist narrower than her hips. Isabel has very little in the way of body fat, but is square-shaped from almost any angle. Even her face is square-shaped. It’s been that way since birth....

Jack’s singular discovery was that things are, in fact, as they seem. Keys that get lost, for example, especially those that turn up in what would appear to be in plain sight—on a desktop, a counter, or the middle of a made bed—actually do cease to exist until the instant they are found. Likewise, the sky is, in fact, a bowl placed over the earth—a pale blue bowl, matte-surfaced, lighter near its rim, darker near its crown; or, at night: a sort of colander, randomly punctured by buckshot, light shining through...


Now they tell us that we have destroyed our world
with our fires and our feasts, but isn’t that what
we have always feared? Isn’t that what our priests
have always muttered in incense smoke and cave
dark from one time to the next? Isn’t that the worry
on our doctors’ faces? The answering sweatiness
on our finger tips? Our mute and sacred knowing?
We keep changing the words, but the meaning
soaks through: That shadow on your lung, your filth,
your shame—you dared to think that you
were loved, but joy must have its revenge....

MILOSZ'S CHOICE; An Investigation of Sentimentality
SEVERAL YEARS AGO I had an argument with a woman about Czeslaw Milosz. I no longer remember the woman’s name but I do remember vividly where we were: L'Isle sur la Sorgue, a city of canals and creaking waterwheels in the south of France...

In 1988, just before I began teaching writing in the New York City public schools with Teachers & Writers Collaborative, I was feeling pretty confident. I had just sold my first book -- a short story collection -- to a major publisher, I had a masters in English literature, and I had worked for eight years as a freelance journalist. It seemed to me that -- at least when it came to teaching elementary school -- I knew everything I needed to know about writing...

PROLOGUE: Working For Human Happiness

On the morning of September 24, 1854, forty-five children sat in the front benches of a meeting house in Dowagiac, Michigan. Most were between ten and twelve years old, though at least one was six, and a few were as old as fifteen....

Selected Works

Conjunctions: 60, 2013; Best American Short Stories 2014
Conjunctions 55, 2010
From Various Journals
Teachers & Writers Magazine, Nov.-Dec. 2000
Selection from ORPHAN TRAINS: The Story of Charles Loring Brace and the Children He Saved and Failed