Marion Winik

176 POSTS 56 COMMENTS
University of Baltimore Professor Marion Winik writes Bohemian Rhapsody on the first Wednesday of the month. She is the author of "The Big Book of the Dead,” “First Comes Love,” and several other books, and the host of The Weekly Reader on WYPR. Sign up for her monthly email at marionwinik.com.

Some Pretty Bad Things I Did A Long Time Ago

1

In the late 1980s, after struggling for years to write fiction and poetry, I stumbled on the possibilities of the personal essay. I was inspired and energized by the possibility of telling the truth about my life and experiences. It was a challenge to see how honest I could really be – how far I would go. There were things it seemed impossible to discuss in public. What the hell, I thought, and did it anyway. And once I did, I experienced the redemptive and sometimes thrilling powers of confession, which is what this essay celebrates. Later, after “Telling” became the title essay of my first collection from Random House, I experienced some of the less fun aspects of baring one’s life and soul, like being criticized for being exhibitionistic and seeking only to shock. Reading this essay 30-plus years later, I think I may in fact have gone a little overboard. Welcome to the “Oy Vey” edition of Telling, with illustrations.

Baltimore Writers’ Club: A Q&A with Jessica Anya Blau and Tracy Walder about ‘The Unexpected Spy’

0

In 2015, popular Baltimore novelist Jessica Anya Blau (The Trouble With Lexie, The Summer of Naked Swim Parties, etc.) decided to try her hand at something completely different — ghostwriting. After working behind-the-scenes on a few books, including a bestselling memoir of child abuse and dysfunction, she was offered the opportunity to collaborate on a very different project – the memoir of a sorority girl from the University of Southern California who ended up working for the CIA and the FBI. An ex-spy named Tracy Walder, then a high school teacher in Dallas, was ready to tell her story.

With Jane, in Spain: Director’s Cut (or 10 reasons to go to Sevilla)

2
Your typical ceiling n Moorish wonderland.

Toward the end of winter break, my daughter Jane and I took a one-week trip to Sevilla, Spain, with a detour to another Andalusian all-star, Granada. In the olden days, I would have written a piece called Ten Reasons to Go To Sevilla or Thirty-Six Hours in Sevilla or What’s New in Sevilla for a newspaper or magazine travel section; unfortunately, here in 2020 both my freelance career and print-media travel sections have fallen on hard times. But you know me, I gotta write it down. And now it turns out, Jane’s gotta take pictures of it. And so the spunky little Ten Reasons story lives on, with about twice as many words as I would have had in the days of ink and paper.

Baltimore Holiday Report

6

I don’t know if I’m going soft in my old age or what, but I didn’t hate the holidays at all this year. From the morning I ran outside barefoot in my bathrobe to give the garbage men a twenty-dollar bill, it was just one sweet moment after another. Since my children don’t live here anymore, it was lovely to have a couple of them return. Jane helped me get the Christmas tree and Vince found Chanukah candles for 89 cents a box. Then I cooked their favorite dishes as they sat side by side on the couch joyously playing Mario Kart on the Nintendo Switch. Hayes and Maria were in Ecuador with her family but showed up on Facetime at key moments.

Q&A With Malka Older, Author of “…and Other Disasters”

0

It’s hard to do much better in describing Malka Older’s unusual new collection, “…and Other Disasters,” published by Baltimore-based Mason Jar Press, than sci-fi king Bruce Sterling, who commented that Older is like “a psychoanalyst in a planetary refugee camp.”

Another Baltimore Dog Story: The Trials of Lea

3

My neighbor Pam has three wild boys, and all have begged for years to get a dog. Particularly Rocco, the middle one, a born animal lover. But who will take care of this dog? asked Pam, knowing perfectly well who it would be. Sorry boys, no dog. It’s already too much around here.

Baltimore Art School Report

9

In February 2019, about six months into my empty nest lifestyle, I realized how many more hours there are in a day when you live alone. I thought I might need a hobby. Since I already speak a little Spanish and have been wanting to improve, I signed up for online lessons at Berlitz.com.

A dozen literary events to attend at Brilliant Baltimore

0
Image via the Baltimore Book Festival’s Facebook page.

The Baltimore Book Festival returns two months later than usual, now merged with Light City into a 10-day event called Brilliant Baltimore. Most of the book festival events take place over the first weekend, Friday, Nov. 1 to Sunday, Nov. 3, with a few evening events through Wednesday. 

The location has changed–take a look at the map on the website before heading over. Almost all of the staged events and the book sales are in the Columbus Center, the big glass building on Pier 5. The CityLit stage is in the Pier 5 Hotel, and the exhibitors are still at tables encircling the harbor. The Children’s stage and the Comic Pavilion are over there too, in their traditional spots. 

Angels in Baltimore

12

I was having a fine, if ordinary, summer day until two things happened, both right outside my front door. The first time I left the house, I discovered a hit-and-run driver had lopped off my rearview mirror. That afternoon, I briefly left my iPhone in the car, and by the time I went out to get it, it was gone. That iPhone was one of the only working parts of my brain, and it was not even halfway paid for.

I picture them like evil dots on a GPS map, miscreants on the move, turning on my street, stopping at my house, dropping off a random to-go order of misery. Small and medium for me this time. But just as I was ruminating on the terrible power of bad people, the universe gave me an opportunity to notice just the opposite, a couple helpings of positive vibes I had done nothing to deserve. 

Baltimost: The Ivy Bookshop

0
The future home of The Ivy Bookshop. Courtesy of The Ivy Bookshop/Facebook.

The Ivy Bookshop

When The Ivy Bookshop moves a quarter-mile down Falls Road this spring, Baltimore City will become the home of what might be the most beautiful and bucolic bookstore in the United States. Set on 2.7 lush green acres beside the Jones Falls, in a light-filled 19th century house remodeled by Ziger/Snead architects, the bookstore will be a surprise to those who associate the city with rough neighborhoods and presidential insults.

The 18-year-old Ivy opened its Lake Falls Village doors in dark days for bookstores, a time when the rise of big-box retail, Amazon and e-books combined to sound a death knell for concerns like Baltimore's Bibelot.

Now, thanks to the idealism and grit of three consecutive owners—founder Darielle Linehan, Ed and Ann Berlin, now Emma Snyder—it has survived to be a part of what could become a golden age for small business. Linehan conceived of and crafted a lively North Baltimore neighborhood bookstore; the Berlins expanded its reach through the city by partnering with key organizations like the Pratt and the Baltimore Book Festival; and since Snyder joined them in 2017--also the year a second location, Bird in Hand, opened near the Hopkins campus--the store's demographic has steadily broadened. As Snyder sees it, with every aspect of our lives awash in technology, "local businesses feel human. They create a space for community in people's lives."

The new Ivy will embrace that role, taking a building that used to be a sanctuary of the Divine Life Church and creating a sanctuary for books—plus a coffee bar, a workroom for classes and meetings, and a studio apartment for visiting writers or perhaps Airbnb types. Outside, on the lawn, in the meditation garden, on the wide porch and patios, one can easily envision weddings, literary salons, an al fresco summer reading series.  

"Fundamentally, a bookstore is a collaboration between the owners and staff and the community," says Snyder, who plans to invite visual artists and urban gardeners to be part of the new Ivy.

"What can happen here is limited only by the imagination," she says. "Which is kind of perfect, since books are all about imagination."

Back to main Baltimost page

Guides