author · editor · journalist
I'm pleased to make your acquaintance.
I was a late bloomer as a professional writer. I tried a lot of other jobs first. I was a librarian at a paranormal society. A community organiser. A book and magazine editor. A bartender. A manager of homeless shelters. Then, in my late 30s, I had an idea for a book that I knew I had to write.
Drinking with Men: A Memoir was selected as one of 2013's best books by Library Journal and National Public Radio. My second book, Becoming a Sommelier, was named one of 2019's best wine books in The New York Times. My next book, The Slow Road North: How I Found Peace in an Improbable Country, will be out in 2023.
From 2011 to 2017, I was a columnist for The New York Times Magazine, and I've also written for Food & Wine, The New York Times Book Review, Lucky Peach, Marie Claire, poetryfoundation.com, and Travel + Leisure, among other publications. My personal essays appear in numerous anthologies, including Eat Joy: Stories & Comfort Food from 31 Celebrated Writers and the revised edition of Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York.
I've told stories on the radio show This American Life and at many live storytelling events. I love giving talks and readings. I've been called one of "50 Writers You Need to See Read Live," and it's likely that I would be delighted to participate in your reading series or festival or panel discussion.
Lately, I've been writing screenplays, too, and if I'd known how much fun it is, I wouldn't have waited so long.
Born and raised in New York City, I now live in the Glens of Antrim in Northern Ireland, a terrifically beautiful place you should visit sometime. I enjoy the robins and blackbirds in my backyard, walking in the forest, reading, feeding my friends (and sometimes strangers) the things I cook, teaching, and traveling. I would probably also like writing or editing for your magazine or newspaper, consulting on your manuscript or book proposal, or being graced by your presence in one of my online classrooms.
Thanks for stopping by.
Would you like to read something I wrote?
I appreciate your interest.
I may be best known for writing about food and (especially) drink. But I'm proud to be a generalist with bylines in six sections of The New York Times, who can also cover books, art, crafts, travel, design, music, and sometimes even sports—because people and the things they make and do are endlessly interesting. Here's a small sampler of my articles, columns, essays, even a poem.
Classes, Workshops, and Coaching
THE PRACTICE OF THE PERSONAL ESSAY
I'm delighted to offer this eight-week Zoom course via The Irish Writers Centre, starting Tuesday, 29th March. We will closely read essays by Jo Ann Beard, Emily Bernard, Angela Bourke and others as we survey the personal essay in many forms, including the braided essay, the collage essay, and the lyric essay. Workshop discussions of participants’ writing will be at the core of our two-hour sessions. Find further details, and register, here
— this course is now full —
ONE-ON-ONE PROJECT COACHING
If you're working on a project (such as a memoir, a book-length work of narrative nonfiction, an essay, a collection of essays), I may be available for one-on-one coaching on Zoom. Get in touch with me (scroll down for contact information) to learn more about my approach to project coaching.
Get in touch!
Are you thinking of assigning me a story?
Considering taking a workshop with me?
Would you like help with a book proposal?
Or with a manuscript?
Do you have a gardening tip to share?
A sad old song you want to sing to me?
Please send me a message.
I'll send one back. If you seem nice.