I was born in Washington DC and grew up in Los Angeles. Since then, I've lived in Iowa, Nicaragua, New Haven, and Brooklyn. I've worked as a baker, an office temp, an innkeeper, a tutor, and a medical actor. Every one of these was a world; they're still in me. These days I teach at the Columbia University MFA program, where I direct the nonfiction concentration and lead the Marian House Project.
My new book, The Recovering, comes out in April 2018. I've also written a novel, The Gin Closet, and a collection of essays, The Empathy Exams. My work has appeared in places including The New York Times Magazine, Harper's, Oxford American, A Public Space, Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Believer. For several years I was also a columnist for the New York Times Book Review. I live in Brooklyn, with my family.