Skip to main content


Photography by Annie Ling

Begin Again

The painful truth is that our talismans have a shelf life. We cart them home with us from our travels, or extract them from the dusty attics of our ancestors, accompanied by the compelling fantasy that they will make real and tangible, make available, make possible this line of words that we summon from thin air each time we sit down to work.  

Melanie Dunea

Literary Tastes

I love Colette’s work. I’m not so crazy about Colette the person, who seems to have been, on a good day, a terrible mother, a terrible daughter, a crap friend, and faintly anti-Semitic. On the other hand, she would eviscerate a tray of chocolate [...]


This was more than thirty years ago. In those days, I could not afford a desk and lamp or a library to put them in; but even if I could, I believe I would have run from that. I preferred to travel lightly, to carry only pencils and a notebook and shadow my nascent fiction like a hunter or neurotic lover.

Treasure Box

The box dates from the late sixties, from a trip I took with my family to Ireland. I would have been eight or nine at the time. Of the trip itself I have one vivid memory. We are in a rental car, my father at the wheel, his attention focused vigilantly on the challenge of driving on the wrong side of the road.

Doug Bruns


We all know how Jane Austen wrote her books in the parlor, that most public of spaces. When she heard someone approach, she slipped her pages unobtrusively beneath the blotter.

Photo by Charles Bertram

Reading Between the Lines

When I was about ten, I received a five-​year diary for Christmas. It was a small green leather-like book with a little lock and key. My grandmother, who had briefly kept a minimalist diary, insisted that I record the weather. In her diary she wr [...]

Photo by Jason Florio

Talisman: Ganesh

It’s been almost forty years since I bought an image of Sri Ganesh, the elephant-​headed Hindu god, from a street vendor in the Chor Bazaar—​the Thieves’ Market—​in Mumbai, which at that time was still Bombay. I’ve had the picture, surrounded by a simple black frame and protected by a durable pane of glass, on my writing desk ever since.