Newest Brief Essays

"Women's Hour, YMCA" featured in Kenyon Review Online

"I Second That Emotion" (craft essay) featured in New Ohio Review


Other Brief Essays

"Advanced Directive to My Future Roommate…"

"Things Gone the Way of Time," recently reprinted in Brief Encounters: A Collection of Contemporary Nonfiction (Norton)


Study with Rebecca this summer

Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, June 18-25


Kenyon Review PODCAST with Rebecca

(on memoir, genre-crossing, writing practice, and more)


Word Painting Revised Edition: The Fine Art of Writing Descriptively

New edition includes over 100 writing exercises for all genres.

Word Painting

The Tribal Knot

Rebecca'a newest nonfiction book, The Tribal Knot: A Memoir of Family, Community, and a Century of Change is now available from Indiana University Press and Amazon.

Tribal Knot

"Literary nonfiction aspires...

to the condition of art. This aspiration may reveal itself in many ways—in close attention to language, or in an elegant, original structure, a well-paced narrative, a surprising voice or in a new take on an old subject. Literary nonfiction uses the materials of the ordinary world in extraordinary ways."

Brief and Lyric Essays
Loving Bald Men
Loving Bald Men

from Brevity
…The first time I touched a bald man's head I was a grown woman, and I read in the elegant bones of his skull my future for the next few hours at least. Who could refuse such a landscape?....

Longer Essays

from The Gettysburg Review
"…a narrative and meditation on cancer, it's about shock and surrender, assertion and resistance, survival and revival. I think it's a masterpiece."
– R. T. Smith, editor of Shenandoah

From The Riddle Song and Other Rememberings
...Maybe some of us were meant from the beginning to be aunts. ...Maybe the powers-that-be give children to those who can survive the love, who know when to let go....
Other Nonfiction
Children Writing Grief
Children Writing Grief

from The Southern Review
If it is true, as Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote, that “Childhood is the kingdom where no one dies that matters,” then for many of my students, the kingdom was vanquished early on....

The Art & Craft of Nonfiction

Hear and View Brief Essays & Excerpts