Author 2021-05-15T15:26:24+00:00


I’m the author of ten books.

A novel:

Born Slippy: A Novel (Repeater Books, 2020)

Three books of travel writing:

The Kindness of Strangers (University of Iowa Press, 2021)

And the Monkey Learned Nothing: Dispatches from a Life in Transit (University of Iowa Press, 2017)

Drinking Mare’s Milk on the Roof of the World: Wandering the Globe from Azerbaijan to Zanzibar (O|R Books, 2016)

A philosophical meditation:

Aimlessness: An Introduction (Columbia University Press, 2021)

And a collection of photographs and micrononfiction:

Portraits: Moments of Intimacy on the Road (Rare Bird Lit, 2021)

Two trade books of cultural history:

Doing Nothing: A History of Loafers, Loungers, Slackers, and Bums (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2006)

Crying: The Natural and Cultural History of Tears (Norton, 1999)

Two academic books of literary and cultural history:

Cosmopolitan Vistas: American Regionalism and Literary Value (Cornell University Press, 2004)

American Nervousness, 1903: An Anecdotal History (Cornell University Press, 1991)

I am also the editor of dozens of books published by Los Angeles Review of Books and LARB Books, and one published by Rutgers University Press in 1996:

These ‘Colored’ United States: African American Essays from the 1920s

My books have been translated into 12 languages and have appeared on NYT and LAT bestseller lists.

Doing Nothing received the American Book Award in 2008. American Nervousness, Doing Nothing, and Crying were New York Times Notable Books. Cosmopolitan Vistas was a Choice Outstanding Academic Title. Crying and Doing Nothing were NY Times and LA Times bestsellers, and American Nervousness was a NY Times bestseller.

You can read more about each of my books here: My Books. 

My fiction and nonfiction have appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, New Republic, Chicago Tribune, Die Zeit, ZYZZYVA, Exquisite Corpse, Salon.com, Black Clock, LitHub, and other newspapers and literary venues, as well as in dozens of books and academic journals.

You can find a selection of my shorter form works on the following pages: Articles & Chapters, Op-eds & Reviews, and Interviews with Writers.

I have also written a number of screenplays for film and television.  My latest is a limited series historical drama set in the 1920s.