I'm the Thomas H. Pritchard Professor of English at Wake Forest University, where I teach British and American Romanticism, creative nonfiction, film and literature, and cultural studies. My most recent book is Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck: Why We Can't Look Away (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux). It explores our many and myriad forms of morbid curiosity and argues that macabre fascination, far from perverse, is essential for a good life. So far, the book has been named to March's "must-read" list in Oprah Magazine. It has been favorably reviewed in NPR Books, Booklist, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, The New Orleans Times-Picayune, The Boston Globe, The Roanoke Times, and The Barnes and Noble Review. Salon magazine featured a substantial excerpt from the book.

Early in 2011, I published My Business Is To Create: Blake's Infinite Writing (University of Iowa Press, 2011). Written for accomplished and aspiring writers and artists, it explores William Blake's vision of creativity and the practices it implies. A year earlier, I released The Mercy of Eternity: A Memoir of Depression and Grace (Northwestern University Press, 2010), which recounts my struggle with and ultimate embrace of my manic depressive illness in the wake of my daughter's birth. In 2008, Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008) was published. This book, which appeared on the bestseller lists of the L.A. Times and the Calgary Herald, was featured on many national and international media venues—including NBC’s Today Show, UNC TV’s Bookwatch, TVO’s The Agenda, NPR’s All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation, the BBC’s Today Programme, and CBC’s The Current.  Against Happiness also received coverage in several key periodicals—such as Newsweek, the Chicago Tribune, the L.A. Times, the New York Times, The Globe and Mail, The Charlotte Observer, The Winston-Salem Journal, and The Spectator—and was favorably reviewed in The Wall Street Journal, Booklist, Bookforum, the Globe and Mail, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Playboy.com, Publisher’s Weekly, the Raleigh News and Observer, and America: The National Catholic Weekly. Against Happiness has been translated into French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Croatian, Korean, Chinese, and Portuguese. 

I have published books on other subjects as well, ranging from ecology to technology to the Gnostic aspects of contemporary film. The titles of these books are The Strange World of David Lynch (Continuum, 2007); Secret Cinema: Gnostic Vision in Film (Continuum, 2006); The Melancholy Android: On the Psychology of Sacred Machines (State University of New York Press, 2006); Coleridge’s Melancholia (University Press of Florida, 2004); The Spiritual History of Ice (Palgrave Macmillan); Romantic Turbulence (Palgrave Macmillan, 2000); and Emerson's Sublime Science (Palgrave Macmillan, 1999).

I live in Winston-Salem with my wife Sandi and my daughter Una. When I'm not writing, reading, or spending time with my family, I'm probably training--I'm a triathlete and a black belt in Tae Kwon Do--or watching films, especially the great Hollywood movies of the 30s and the 40s, preferably starring Cary Grant or Mirna Loy. 

 

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