The car battery died yesterday. I had plans to take Cody out on the town. Instead I unloaded all the bags from the car, rocked him back to sleep, and sat back down to write. That's where I am these days, determined to follow Natalie Goldberg's "shut up and write" advice. Unless you want to teach, skip the MFA and follow and repeat that mantra. The rest is interference, mostly the stuff we devise in our own head's to keep us from the singular goal of planting a seat in the chair each day and getting out of our own way. Leave the laundry, dishes, and unnecessary to-do items for writing breaks or problem solving edits. The rest, aside from a seven week and five year-old can wait. Between writing sessions, I read. Lately, it's Empire Falls by Richard Russo. Have you read it? I picked up a copy at a library sale two summer's ago on the Cape. After reading fifty or so pages, I stacked the book on my reading pile by the night stand and there it stayed until last month when I get hooked. Seventy pages left and I can barely stand to put the book down. It's like saying no to a cup of coffee on a cold rainy morning, like today. I'm drinking a cup of coffee but the book will have to wait. Empire Falls has been out for more than a decade long enough to inspire me to see the TV mini-series before reading the book, not something I usually do. Russo has a real talent for novel writing—the structure, characters, plot, setting, and pace all elements exquisitely drawn. His characters are real and flawed and despite their shortcomings, forgivable. He writes with a deep understanding of our human condition expressing it with a balanced mix of satire, compassion, humor, and sadness. Set in a old mill town in Maine, Empire Falls is the story of Miles Roby, a modest man who gave up his college education and dream of escaping home when he promises to help Francine Whiting, who practically owns the town (and Miles himself) run the local diner. Janine, his soon-to-be ex-wife is about to marry an obnoxious health-club owner. Smart and sensitive, his daughter Tick, struggles to find her way through adolescence. Will Miles escape the fate set before him years ago? Whether or not you've seen the HBO two-part series, read the book, it's worth every page. Jhumpa Lahiri's The Lowland is next on my reading list. What are you reading lately? p.s. A few of my healthy go-to recipes are featured at MommyPage today. Check out the interview and recipes, here.