Selected articles, essays, criticism:

“In the #MeToo Era, It’s Time to Rethink the Miss America Pageant,” Washington Post, March 1, 2018,

“The Renegade Miss Americas Who Spat on the Pageant’s Ideals,”, Sep. 29, 2017.

“Out of Print Children’s Books Worth Digging Up,” San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 24, 2016.

Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker, San Francisco Chronicle, May 7, 2015.

“Hate the Brand, Love the Man: Why Ed Hardy Matters,” Los Angeles Review of Books, Aug. 25, 2013.

“Inkside Out:Visual Artists are Incoroporating Tattoo Imagery and Techniques into Their Art,” ARTnews, Dec. 2012.

“More on ‘So,'” The Chronicle of Higher Education (Lingua Franca), Dec. 19, 2011.

“Mockingbird Sings” review of Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles Shields, June 6, 2006.

“A Blank Human Canvas: The Literary Tattoo Leaps from the Page to Living Parchment,” The Believer, (Dec/Jan 2005-6).

Personal Essays:

An essay about the dad I barely knew, for  O, the Oprah Magazine, September 2018.

On my mother’s death: “Learning to Die,” The New York Times, September 30, 2015.

“My Most Spectacular Failure: A student transcends his circumstances but not his demons.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov. 25, 2013: rodriguez3

On the day Obama gave his first public speech:  “Remembering Obama at Occidental,” The New, Oct. 3, 2012.

“The Scarlet V,” Proto Magazine (fall 2010). An essay about the beauty of an ugly scar.

On my students: “Life Stories Unlocked by Literature,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 25, 2009. life-stories1

“The Occidental Tourist” (Op Ed), from “The Places He Remembers: Postcards from Barack Obama’s Life,” The New York Times. Jan. 18, 2009.