I grew up in Hawaii, speaking grammatical English at home and Hawaiian creole (or “Pidgin”) with friends. I left the islands to get a bachelors degree in English Literature from Princeton and a masters from the Graduate School of Journalism at UC-Berkeley. I worked as a reporter and editor at the Gilroy Dispatch,the Oakland Tribune and the San Francisco Examiner. I really started dabbling in the idiosyncracies of the mother tongue, though, while copy chief at Wired, where I wrote Wired Style: Principles of English Usage in the Digital Age. Then I wrote Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose.
As a freelance writer I've covered Latin plurals and Latino culture, Berkeley politics and Hawaiian sovereignty. My stories have appeared in newspapers from the Los Angeles Times to the Miami Herald, as well as in magazines like The Atlantic Monthly, National Geographic Adventure, Smithsonian, Health, and Honolulu. I love the travel essay as a form, and have been published in many anthologies including France, A Love Story (Seal Press) and Best Travel Writing 2006 (Travelers’ Tales).
I am a founder of The Prose Doctors, an editors collective, and a member of The Itinerants, a group of San Francisco-based writers. Oh, and they say I dance a damned good hula.
Early influences included Beatrix Potter, "Mother Goose," and the Grimm Brothers as well as a book called "Ring-a-ling" given to me by my grandmother and filled with Eastern European folk tales.
Later I loved both poetry and novels by Camus and Hemingway and then concentrated on Shakespeare as well as British and American poets, among whom my favorites are Yeats, T. S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Adrienne Rich, W. S. Merwin, and Louise Glück.
As a journalist, the writers I most admire and would hope to emulate are Joan Didion (for her penetrating insights), Adam Gopnik (for his francophilia, which I share), Susan Orlean (for her eccentric subjects and her sentences), Tim Cahill (for his humor and humanity), and David Grann (for his suspenseful tales). Of course there are many, many more.
A book all about verbs and the English sentence. (!)
Broadway Books, W.W. Norton
Reading the New Yorker, working in my huge garden, dancing the hula, listening to live music.
Intellectual Property Protection, Environmentalism, Income Equality Worldwide, End to Racism
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