Brad at Berkeley

My Drunken Email to Michael Lewis: A Graduate School Story

Tonight, an object lesson for students in the age of social media. (Actually, I’m surprised this story has remained ‘off blog’ for so long since my friends are ever-so-happy to hear it told.) In 1999, I worked as a teaching assistant for Michael Lewis while a graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate…

Things That Happen in a Writer’s Mind

After months and years of research, I’ve finally started outlining So Far Appalachia, my next book project. The early part of the writing process involves organizing my anecdotes, inserting them within chapters, and arranging the chapters in a way that will elicit the reader to consider certain themes. It looks like this:


Review: Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall

Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall by Anna Funder My rating: 5 of 5 stars My friend Aleks and I are each writing non-fiction stories that involve some form of first-person narrative. It’s a troublesome form, first person, because quite often the narrative gets in the way of the story. Done poorly, it’s a…

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January: The Year of Focus Update

We know that the best way for humans to change their behavior patterns is through tracking mechanisms. If you want to lose weight, you have to count (somewhere) what you are eating. If you want to get stronger in the gym, you have to count what you are doing. Without that tracking mechanism, we lose…

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Review: The Age of American Unreason

The Age of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby My rating: 3 of 5 stars Susan Jacoby’s book is at its best when she’s weaving together her philosophical take on intellectualism and elitism with failings in modern education, American citizens, and public debate. Unfortunately, she sometimes falls into a sense of “days gone by,” reminiscing about…