My father was a great storyteller, and when my two brothers and I were growing up, he would spin out one tale after another. As a little kid, my favorite was “Skinny Melinny, the Fish Who Lived Under the Sea.”

In Vietnam, there is a green bamboo viper. Marines call it “One-Step.” It bites. You take one step. You’re dead.

Every summer from the time I was 6, I was able to escape the horror of life with my mother and stepfather in Tennessee and visit my dad and Gail, his new girlfriend. He had an apartment in Gramercy Park in the city — New York — and a house in Montauk, at the very tip of Long Island. There was a great lighthouse there, built in the late 1700s.

I am 10 years old, trapped in chubby latency. My father has just picked me up from my grandmother’s house, where I spend every other weekend, to drive me to Sunday school. I am excited because he lets me sit in the front seat with him. This would never happen with my mother there. She says children should never sit up front because if the car...

I’ve survived long enough to remember a time when we all wanted a little personal space, maybe even cherished it, at least here in the city. The too-crowded subways, tight elevators, clustered workspaces, even in the outdoors where it was supposed to feel open, we’d be swept in the undercurrent of bodies moving like a tide up and down the...

The abandoned carport at the end of Ray Howell’s long, snaking driveway was hard to miss. Beneath the flimsy canvas roof, the overgrown grass between the two dirt tire ruts stood waist high, bending in the high desert breeze like a Mohawk haircut gone wrong.

I sit mesmerized by Lillian Board on our small black-and-white TV. She’s just won the 400-meters race in Los Angeles and I’m in love; she’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. “Aw naw, Johnny!” Mum looks...

It was the sultry summer of ’66. Kelsey had the car of cars. A German job, ’63 Daimler convertible, low-slung, shiny, hot, fiberglass, custom, khaki grey. We’d been dating three months.

He was a shortcut kind of guy; living on the edge. But that’s what made him so attractive. A kind of mystery man.