New Orleans at night, November 2017, (c) Maximus Clarke 2017

Writings on Ancestry 

America’s Ancestry Craze, on what we’re seeking when we search for our ancestors, for Harper’s

A Doubter in the Holy Land, on visiting Jerusalem and fearing a conversion like the one my mom once had, for the New York Times Magazine (republished in The Best American Travel Writing 2015)

Review of Alex Wagner’s Futureface, for the New York Times Book Review

Ancestor Trouble newsletter



I, Rodent, a year-end essay at Awl

Science, Chance, and Emotion with Real Cosima, a profile of Orphan Black’s science advisor Cosima Herter, for Longreads

When the Flock Changed, winner Narrative Prize for fiction, in Narrative Magazine

Cleaning Up on Christmas, on spending the holiday alone at my father’s place while visiting him, at Medium

Portrait of My Father, a recollection at Granta

The Rapture Meets My 40th Birthday, essay at Awl

Regarding the Insurance Defense Attorney, short story in Eyeshot and winner of the 2004 Irwin and Alice Stark Short Fiction Award

My Son Went to Heaven, and All I Got Was a No. 1 Best Seller, essay on Heaven is for Real, fundamentalism, and near-death experiences, for the New York Times Magazine

Ode to an Enchanted Hotel: My Rendezvous with the Haunted Biltmore, for Oxford American

Conversations You Have at Twenty, essay anthologized in Love is a Four-Letter Word and published by Narrative


Essays and Opinions

Oy Vey, Christian Soldiers, on evangelicals’ Bar Mitzvahs, for the New York Times Magazine

What Would Jesus Buy?, at Bookforum

Cleaning Up on Christmas, on spending the holiday alone at my father’s place while visiting him, at Medium

Another Thing to Sort of Pin on David Foster Wallace, for the New York Times Magazine

Some Company For Slow Writers, at Tin House


Selected Reviews, Appreciations, Interviews, Profiles and Conversations

Mat Johnson’s Pym: my choice for the 2012 Pulitzer, in the New York Times Magazine

Review of Nick Bilton’s Hatching Twitter, for the technology issue of the New York Times Book Review

Interview with Nicole Chung, author of All You Can Ever Know, for B&N Review

Wave of the Future, my conversation with Chang Rae Lee about On Such a Full Sea, for Barnes & Noble Review

On the Sunshine State and T.D. Allman’s scathing history of it, for Bookforum (print only)

After the Affair: On Jean Rhys and Ford Maddox Ford, correspondence with Alexander Chee at Granta

For Vassar or for Poorer, on the timelessness of Mary McCarthy’s The Group, for Bookforum

Appreciation of  Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers, at NPR, and other contributions to NPR’s Books We Like

Alison Bechdel: The Balancing Act, interview at Barnes & Noble Review

On Molly Crabapple’s “Altarpieces to the Revolution,” at The New Republic

On the unparalleled Muriel Spark, at Barnes & Noble Review

When Your Shrink Dies: A Talk with Emma Forrest about Your Voice in My Head, at Awl

On Joan Didion’s Blue Nights, at Barnes & Noble Review

Joan Didion, profiled for Humanities

Review of Adam Levin’s The Instructions, at Barnes & Noble Review

Review of A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book, at Barnes & Noble Review

Review of Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs, at Barnes & Noble Review

Review of Claire Keegan’s Walk the Blue Fields, in The New York Times Book Review

Review of C.E. Morgan’s All the Living, at The Second Pass

Review of Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader, in the LA Times Book Review

Review of Richard Price’s Lush Life, in the Boston Globe

Review of Aleksandar Hemon’s The Lazarus Project, in The Boston Globe

Review of Cate Kennedy’s Dark Roots, in the New York Times Book Review

Review of Ellen Litman’s The Last Chicken in America, in the NY Times Book Review

Remembering Harry Crews, my former teacher, at Awl

A Talk with Philip Connors about Fire Season, at The Paris Review Daily



My teeny NYT One-Page Magazine columns, in the New York Times Magazine

Better Boundaries with Muriel Spark, at Awl


Selected Older Fiction and Essays

Luke, fiction in storySouth, published 2002

Wartime in Williamsburg, essay in Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood, published 2003

Post-Extraction, fiction in Swink, published 2004

Send Up the Clowns, in The American Prospect, published 2006

Confessions of a Cradle Robber, essay in When I Was a Loser, published 2007

A Novel, Not a Memoir, essay (clarified here) at the LA Times

Mess Up Your Mind, anthologized (print only) in What My Mother Gave Me

Nobody’s Stranger, a Miami noir short story (Part One and Part Two), at Medium

Football and Nachos, the Texan Way, at Awl