"I am always at a loss how much to
believe my own stories."
-Washington Irving, Tales of a Traveler, 1824


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2000 C E L E B R A T I N G T W E N T Y Y E A R S 2020

Welcome to PenHead.org, an oasis of uninformed analysis in a desert of educated guesswork. What is a penhead? Do you fancy yourself a writer? Enjoy a good read? Then you may already be a penhead yourself!

We are your source for original stories, the occasional interview with our favorite authors, book and play reviews, recommendations (of current and forgotten finds), and more.

Our Goal: World domination through the written word via the vast network of the internet. Until then, we'll be found risking what's left of our reputations here, at PenHead.org.

Keep in mind the internet's similar to the Jersey Turnpike - it's all about hits and traffic - so visit often, share us repeatedly and we'll do our best to keep things interesting. Who knows . . . you might even be entertained.


According to The Humane Society of the United States, on average 8200 shelter animals are euthanized daily in America. That's upwards of 3 million per year. Of those killed, an estimated 2.4 million are either: healthy; sick, but treatable; or old, but otherwise adoptable. In response, no-kill shelters have exploded in popularity among people seeking an alternative to this throw-away mentality. For them, old age and lack of adoption isn't reason enough for discarding our animal neighbors like so much detritus. For these full-time, part-time and weekend warriors, there's got to be a better way.

Ellie Laks grew up in Missouri. The only daughter of Jewish Orthodox parents, she noticed at a very young age that females were not extended the same opportunities as males. It didn't seem fair to her, but a lot of things didn't seem fair about her childhood. For instance, it didn't seem fair that her brothers didn't have to do chores, but she did. It didn't seem fair that her silence was held in higher regard than her ideas. It definitely didn't seem fair that male babysitters could, without reproach, do things with her no little girl should have to endure. And It wasn't fair when she reported a man for molestation, that her father wouldn't believe her, or that her mother demanded further silence . . . more >

Author Jeff Guidry was diagnosed with stage 3 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2000. He credits an eagle with saving his life. An Eagle Named Freedom: My True Story of a Remarkable Friendship is his personal account of that chapter in his life.

Into the Wild
On a cold, rain-swept day in December 1992, Guidry stood on the banks of the Skagit River with his partner Lynda. They were there as guests of a group called the Eagle Watchers, an organization bent on educating the public about these remarkable birds. It was Guidry's baptism into the world of the wild fliers. Having moved to the Pacific Northwest from California in 1989, his curiosity was piqued by the impressive soarers. He read everything he could get his hands on about eagles. "Pretty soon," he writes, "I was a walking eagle encyclopedia." Seeing them that day along the river solidified his obsession with the birds, and he and Lynda . . . more >

The essay and short story hold a special place in the heart of most every writer. The old axiom "You have to walk before you can run," holds as true in the literary arena as in sports, and for many of us, both as writers and readers, the short story is what we took our first steps with.

With the publishing of The Gifts of Reading, author and essayist Robert MacFarlane proves his generosity both as a writer and human being. Its 34 pages are dedicated to gifts: the gift one gives; the gift one receives; the gift one possesses in the form of talent, even if that talent is giving. Robert MacFarlane is an expert on gifts, because Robert MacFarlane is a giver.

Economy of Words
Specifically, The Gifts is a reflection on books MacFarlane's received as presents. More broadly, it's a celebration of the entire concept of giving. He covers the anticipation of the gift (both by the giver and the recipient), the excitement of discovery one experiences when receiving a gift, and why it is giving - even when . . . more >

Simultaneously described as a literary icon and national embarrassment, Truman Capote, was perhaps, both. Praised for his masterpiece In Cold Blood with which he defined - if not created - a genre of non-fiction murder mystery ripped from the headlines of the day. Part tabloid, mostly fact with minor liberties taken for the added benefit of spice, he honed in on a style of writing that resonated with the American public, and they ate it up. To say Cold Blood was a hit, is an understatement. It was a phenomenon.

Born Truman Streckfus Persons, Capote had the illustrious claim of having been the childhood friend of Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird, Go Set A Watchman). Although he was born in New Orleans, a tumultuous family life landed him in Monroeville, Alabama, in the house next door to Lee's. It was Capote that Lee fashioned Mockingbird character Dill Harris after . . . more >

In my freshman year of college, I was in a stage production of Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood. It's a beautifully crafted play, a tribute to the residents of a fictional Welsh fishing village called Llareggub. I've been a fan of Thomas' words ever since.

A Child's Christmas in Wales, the holiday classic that has been in continuous print since 1954 and pioneered the audiobook industry, captures Thomas at his best: writing about the people and villages he knows and loves. As a writer, and Child's Christmas is no exception, Thomas resides in the space between poetry and prose; at the edge of the waking world and that of dreams. His rhythms are unruly - rushing here, slowing there as if in competition - yet balance against each other in perfect meter. Next to his sublime imagery though, rhythm and . . . more >


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