Holy Foreskin, Batman!

In a post over at World Hum, Jim Benning kindly pointed out a few other penis-related projects. David Farley, a great travel writer out of New York, is hard at work on a book about the strange case of the holy foreskin in Italy, a relic that is exactly what it sounds like. He wrote a great piece about it for Slate. Meanwhile, Tony Perrotett has been looking into the history of Napolean’s Privates. Seems like a trend.


Ngugi, Starbucks and speaking of tongues: An Interview

I was sitting across the table from Ngugi wa Thiongo in a crowded cafeteria when his son, Mukoma came up with his father’s cup of coffee. Ngugi looked at the cup, then at Mukoma.

“Is this Starbucks?” he asked.

“Ah…no,” said Mukoma, who seemed surprised. “It said ‘Peruvian medium roast.'”

“I want Starbucks.” Ngugi said. “I want the real thing!” Then he turned to me, as if to explain, and said, “I like Starbucks.”

He took a sip, shrugged, and decided Peruvian medium roast was okay. We got on with our interview, in which the author of Wizard of the Crow and Decolonising the Mind talks about the audience in Africa, what you owe your language, and the Damocles sword on the imagination. You can read it in the current issue of The Africa Report, or download a copy here.

Too Much Information

Sometime around 1993, I read an amazing essay by David Quammen. It was called “Thinking about Earthworms” and in it, Quammen talks about something that’s always in the back of my mind, something that has gotten, if anything, worse. I finally got a chance to write about this in a piece for the new Poets & Writers called Way, Way Too Much Information. Quammen’s essay isn’t available online, but you can get it either in Out of the Noosphere: The Best of Outside Magazine (a fantastic collection) or in Quammen’s own Flight of the Iguana.

Jack Rice: WCCO/CIA

Yesterday I had a nice interview about magical penis loss with WCCO’s Jack Rice, a thoughtful guy and ex-CIA operative turned radio personality. Jack is currently the 34th most important radio broadcaster in America, and he always travels with Desert Tan Nomex Fire Retardant Gloves because, hey, you never know. I don’t believe the interview is online, but you can see Jack’s blog here.

Penis theft, so-called blogging, kick off and more


It’s possible that you’re here because somewhere in West Africa, someone’s penis was stolen. Unfortunate, for them, it’s true. But at least you’re here because of it. Welcome to my so-called blog, where you’ll find links to stories, to others’ great work, and to a bit of fresh material from yours truly.

For those of you who aren’t my mom, here’s the short version of who I am: A long-time freelance writer, with a lot of stories out, including travel writing (narrative, where possible) and other nonfiction inspired by some of my heroes like Shiva Naipaul, Gary Smith, Gay Talese, Liz Gilbert and others. If you want more squat toilets, more great travel to tough places, and more glimpses of key people’s lives, please sign up or read on!