the San Francisco Chronicle

Locked Up for Life
August 20, 2009

In his column today, Nicholas Kristof argues that the United States wastes massive amounts of money on its prison system. Why? Because we unnecessarily imprison some nonviolent offenders, namely drug users and dealers. The result, Kristof says, is that the government is investing vast sums in keeping people who aren't necessarily dangerous under lock and key--while our education and health care systems suffer from underfunding. "California spends $216,000 annually on each inmate in the juvenile justice system," he writes.

Sweet And Low
March 22, 1999

I. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (HarperFlamingo, 546 pp., $26) Barbara Kingsolver is the most successful practitioner of a style in contemporary fiction that might be called Nice Writing. Nice Writing is a violent affability, a deadly sweetness, a fatal gentle touch. But before I start in on Kingsolver's work, I feel I must explain why I feel that I must start in on it. I do so for a younger version of myself, for the image that I carry inside me of a boy who was the son of a sadistic, alcoholic father, and of a mother who was hurt but also hurtful, and abusive.