Nanny, Who Was Also Midge, Who Was Also Jessie Magdalene

  Jessie Magdalene MacDonnell April 13, 1922 – October 1998 The MacDonnell house is average in size for Nova Scotia. Its two stories are chopped into six tiny bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom, and sitting room—a tight fit for Daniel, Bridget, and their thirteen children. Even the cliff on which the house teeters and the jagged […]

Bowie’s Duet with Himself

I made my first infographic. Or a stab at one. My students are making some, so I thought I should try it too. My students didn’t know Bowie’s “A Space Oddity.” I tried to hide my shock. But now they know a lot about it. Bowie recorded “A Space Oddity”  in 1968. It was his […]

A couple of quick announcements: There’s a giveaway in effect for The One You Get. If you enter, you have a chance to win a free copy. Everybody’s favorite online behemoth bookseller is also offering a discount. Also, this really nice review of The Elusive Brain is just out, in Choice magazine: The elusive brain […]

Psyched

I have a new column on Psychologytoday.com, The Elusive Brain: Literature and Culture in the Age of Neuroscience. I’ll be writing about what literary writers contribute to conversations about the brain, mind, psychology, consciousness, and mental health. I’m pretty excited about it.

Jimsom Weed

My mom and her friend Voly, eighteen to her sixteen, got a recipe for jimson weed tea from this guru beach bum named Al. “He just got out of the loony bin,” Voly whispered to Cathy. My mom has always hung out with guys more than girls. She just gets along with them. “The stuff […]

A Couple of Announcements

My essay about my enduring crush on the life and writing of Christopher Isherwood is out today on Literary Hub. My book The Elusive Brain is out now, with Yale University Press. “A remarkably sane book. Tougaw’s analyses show a supple and adroit mind at work.” —N. Katherine Hayles, author of Unthought: The Power of the […]

Top Ten Family Deaths–Real, Near, and Imagined

10. 1959. Thirty years into his career as a notoriously reckless jockey, my grandpa, Ralph Neves, survives a severe brain injury, his life saved by surgery and a metal plate where a portion of his skull used to be. This is his third near-death experience. 9. 1922. Nanny—Midge to her friends—was born Jessie Magdalena MacDonnell, in Nova […]

Lou’s Records

There is no cooler place than Lou’s Records in 1985. Not anywhere. We could flip through these records until infinity. I like a slow flip, so I can really feel the soft tap of the thick plastic Lou’s puts on every record. I’m looking for David Sylvian records, and I know the real supply is […]

Highly Recommened Reading

A REFUGE FOR JAE-IN DOE: FUGUES IN THE KEY OF ENGLISH MAJOR written by Seo-Young Chu November 3, 2017   I think everybody should read Seo-Young Chu’s brilliant invention of ways to live and think through sexual abuse, so I’m posting it here.

Read This! Let’s Get Him Out of Our Heads

In the current issue of The Nation, Jess Row writes about getting our President–a master of digital rhetoric–out of our heads: This is a big deal, because we humans naturally absorb our environment and often inwardly rehash stuff we hear around us. In other words, what we take in from our surroundings influences our “inner […]

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