Some of the other Marines joshed Peters about being a soft touch. He always loaded up on cigarettes and candy before going to the brig for the daily interrogation and gave these out freely to every prisoner he came across. The other boys preferred the brutal approach. They would lock a prisoner in a footlocker full of roaches or cuff him […]


You aren’t supposed to blame the parents, but you do anyway. Parents are expected to stick by their children no matter what. Maybe it’s worse than outliving them, sitting there in the courtroom while witnesses describe the horrors in excruciating detail, first to the prosecutor and then to the defense. How familiar the situation must be to […]

Lack of Power

The power went out with a silence so vast it was a sound in itself. We were so accustomed to the constant noise everywhere we went, the continual accompaniment of music playing somewhere, the low drone of the refrigerator’s compressor, the whir of a wall clock. And outside, the rush of distant traffic punctuated by the sounds of trucks and racing […]

Return to Japantown, 1945

Father cautioned that it would not be the same. We were lucky, he said, to have kept the place at all. Mother said nothing, but we all knew that her family had owned that particular block since well before the turn of the century. The only reason we still had it was that the deed was in […]

Balzac, Coffee, Novels, Stories

Balzac was reputed to have drunk fifty cups of coffee a day. He worked continually, though not quickly, since he was obsessed with revision. He was known to rework particular passages many times as one would a poem, perpetually tinkering with individual words and phrases until he felt he could do no better. I’m sure […]

Shaped By Its Obscentiy

The old man wanted cigarettes. I gave him my pack. “Keep it,” I said.  The translator told him. The old man did not thank me. “Ask him about his rifle,” I said to the translator. “It looks old.” They exchanged a few words, the old man’s eyes not leaving my face as he smoked. Dark […]