David Heddendorf

David Heddendorf
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David Heddendorf lives in Ames, Iowa. His essays on literary and religious topics have appeared in various magazines. He is also the author of a short novel, The Wrestler.

Recent Essays

P.G. Wodehouse and the Idea of Genius

We might not use the word “genius” in all these contexts, but the mystery is the same. Where did this exceptional ability come from? Is it just another trait like brown eyes or curly hair? We know only that this aptitude defies our disciplines and formulas and couldn’t have been foreseen. Bestowed upon otherwise ordinary people, genius singles them out in one salient regard. It’s a gift that the wise don’t take for granted, a revelation that might beckon each time we visit a gallery, see a movie, attend a concert, open a book.

Scenes of Arrival, Stories of Home

Here are three novels about three places in the world. Each conveys not just a perfunctory setting but a web of topography, livelihoods, pastimes, and lore. And in each the experience of arriving at that place endures in memory and self-understanding.

Mr. Munson’s Mustang: A Fable

"In order to implement vital system updates, you must install the Trans-Mog-Z Facilitator, available at any Big Horizon Automotive Intervention Center. This has been your first notice.”

The Man Who Saw the Bear

What Sanders offers might be called the imagination of hope—a means of acting to stem disaster.

On Being Kind

If it keeps us from flying at each other’s throats, I’ll take kindness every time. But if we seek more than survival, kindness is just the beginning.

Sticking It Out in Green Bay: Mona Simpson’s Off Keck Road

"With her glamorous personal life and occasionally edgy prose, Simpson hardly fits the mold of the down-home writer who nurtures a sense of place. Yet..."

A Casual Birder

For most of my adult life I’ve considered myself a birder. Some people say “bird-watcher,” but for me that term conjures up the sort...

Puppets and Portraits: Two Victorians

In “The Dreams of Mrs. Flintwinch thicken,” a short chapter of Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit (1857), the kind-hearted Arthur Clennam visits his childhood home....

Smiling Prophet of Tape and Glue

If you watch a regional sportscast on TV, or some similar out-of-the-way cable fare, you’ll eventually see a commercial featuring a smiling, chubby man...

Food and “the job of getting it there”

In Charles Frazier’s 1997 novel Cold Mountain, a minister’s daughter decides after her father’s death to remain on their western North Carolina farm, rather...

Blowing Up the Bert: The Outside Story

Two years ago I witnessed the abrupt transformation of an old and distinguished literary magazine. For the people doing the transforming, of course, the...

The Cost of Knowing One’s Place

The first time you read the novels of Thomas Hardy–especially if you read them as a young adult–you’re likely to get a pretty forceful...