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Staff-written issues

Reader rock critic Steve Esmedina, editor Judith Moore, dads, moms, first day of school, Danielle Van Dam murder scene

Blubbo's World Reader writers and other friends remember Steve Esmedina. "Blubbo, oh Blubbo, where do I begin? You’re dead, gone, laid out rotting in a casket somewhere in the ground; and if that’s just your ...

She Hated Adverbs: Judith Moore remembered

23 Reader writers asked to describe her regime.

Busy Fingers Are Happy Fingers — Joe Deegan Mother Reader — Barbarella Build Your Writing Muscles — Ollie Let the Tape Recorder Do the Work — Matthew Lickona Faith — Abe Opincar Make Something Better ...

Build Your Writing Muscles

Now I can write a column in four hours.

"Writing is like a muscle, honey." Judith always called me honey, and her voice was warm like cinnamon tea. "The more you use the muscle, the stronger you get; the more you can write. Write ...

She Knew How Fragile Writers Could Be

E-mails were short, sometimes five words.

I used to send Judith gifts around Mother's Day. Not on, but around -- because she wasn't my mother. But among her many titles -- mentor, boss, friend -- there was also this: the mysterious ...

Late Have I Loved You

She taught me how to find joy through suffering, prayer, humility, and love.

Our dealings from the beginning had a mother-daughter feel. Judith played the loving, nurturing mother; I, the eager-to-please daughter. It was curious, because we never met. But she headed her e-mails "Dear heart," "Cream puff," ...

She Hated Adverbs

And she didn't suffer fools gladly.

I knew Judith Moore only through her voice: a baritone with a slight Southern accent. And I knew her writing. The first time I spoke to Judith -- in early 1997 -- she called me ...

Ask Them How They Vote

And bleed on the page.

Aside from my father, the only real, if informal, writing teacher I've ever had was Judith Moore. I met her in 1989, when I was working at Hunter's Books in La Jolla, one of the ...

Let the Tape Recorder Do the Work

She encouraged me to apply for an NEA grant.

I could almost be tempted to resent Judith for getting my hopes up. When she signed my copy of her food memoir Never Eat Your Heart Out back in 1997, she inscribed it, "To Matt ...

She Gave More Than She Took

She never said "Hi" when I answered the phone; she just started talking.

Judith was a ghost to me. She was present, but never corporeally. It strikes me as ironic that I never met her, considering that the body — her body — was one of her principal ...

Too Many Passive Verbs

She cajoled me. She encouraged me. She got tough on my ass.

Judith Moore called me in the fall of 1995, when I was living temporarily in Laguna Beach and teaching at UC Irvine for a semester. Judith was familiar with my poems and deduced from some ...

She Let Me Know What She Didn't Want

She told me that she was "not interested in O. Henry stories."

Judith Moore remains an enigma to me. When first asked to write for the Reader, I was instructed to run everything by Judith. Who was this lady? Why did she live in Berkeley if she ...

Judith's Creed was Read, Read, Read

Near the end of Judith's life, she allowed me to sit at her feet and watch her work.

A friend once told me, "Nothing ruins a bird but its beak." It wasn't until Judith told me that the biggest mistakes a writer can make are (a) talking about what he or she is ...

"It's a Good Story for You"

I was grateful just to be called, to be trusted.

Though she was my editor, I never met Judith. I knew her instead via calls and e-mail. When she phoned, there'd be that throaty alto, so sure, so self-possessed. I'd grab a pen, and she'd ...

How Truth Can Be Told

"I hate flattery, don't you?" she said to me once.

I was 26 and unemployed when a friend told me about the San Diego Reader and its editor, Judith Moore. I had published a few essays and stories in small literary journals while amassing a ...

She Got Me to Think Out Loud

Judith and I spoke on the telephone perhaps nine or ten times. I wish I had recordings of those lengthy conversations.

Though I never met Judith Moore, she was one of the most significant people who's ever entered my life. She believed in and nurtured my writing abilities even before I really did. She liked my ...

Mother Reader

"Don't self-publish anything; it makes you look like a slut."

Judith often referred to herself in the third person as "Mother Reader." An appropriate epithet, considering that after coming across my blog, she elicited a job offer from "Father Reader," thus giving birth to my ...


That she was at least 20 years my senior never mattered.

"Execrable." And... "You sound like a fluttering dilettante." There were many more in a similar vein. I have all her editorial comments saved somewhere on the jittery hard drive of my old computer. The two ...

Pay Attention to the Details

Every other day, Judith called and asked in a husky voice, "How's your reading coming, honey?"

Her first order to me, sent by fax, was to buy and read Joan Didion's Slouching towards Bethlehem. I was 23 and recently graduated from Thomas Aquinas College, a Catholic liberal arts school where the ...

Make Something Better

She was fierce about writers she didn't like, fierce about writers she said had done a bad job or were lazy.

I never met Judith Moore. To me she was a voice over the phone: slangy, half-cynical, eager to talk about her dog, and passionate about writing. I first talked to her in the summer of ...

"You Don't Do Anger"

She was willing to bawl me out.

Judith came out of nowhere. She called one evening and asked if I'd like to write something for the Reader. I'd read the Reader enough to feel flattered, since the writers I'd encountered in it ...

More Was Her Thing

She wanted to hear more of what went on, what was said, done, eaten, drunk, spilled, tripped over, who was repulsed, enraptured, or simply left behind.

Point-blank, Judith is the reason I'm here. When she found out that I, at 20 years old, had a love for writing, she wanted to see for herself. A piece I'd written for another magazine ...

Always Read Poetry

She would deepen her voice, soften and elongate her vowels, and breathe life into any poem.

Judith and I shared an October 14 birthday. We met when a mutual friend threw a party for us both, 30 years ago. I was freshly graduated from a state teachers' college, where I had ...

Busy fingers are happy fingers

"Forget all about angles, and write a sentence. Then write another sentence, and another."

My long conversation with Judith Moore about writing began in 1980. We first met at a monthly campus ministry shindig for the faculty of Central Washington University, in Ellensburg, Washington. Judith was escaping the small-town ...

More Blood, More Pus, More Mucus

"None of this PR crap anymore. It's a bad habit, and I'll be the one to break you of it, by God."

"This is horrible, this stuff about your mother. Just awful, Susie." Not since my father had someone called me Susie. And not since my father had the endearment arrived with such menace. "It's what I ...

Don't Pretend You Know More Than You Do

Our readers will see through it, and so will I.

Judith made this whole gig happen, I mean Tin Fork and the cheap-eats world she gave me. Actually, it wouldn't have happened without Carla either. She met Judith first and must have mentioned this layabout ...


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