You just published a book called Playing with Dynamite: A Memoir. Why did you decide to write a book about yourself? Did you do jail time or recover from addiction or walk on the moon or something?

First of all, I never intended to write memoir. Like many writers, I started with autobiographical fiction. I wrote a novel about a teenage girl growing up in Detroit who embarks on a quest to find out who her father was and how he died. It’s remarkable how many memoirists say they started by writing their story as fiction, but it didn’t work, so they finally had to tell the whole truth. That’s what happened with me.

1.)  When Apple Maps will be able to provide people with a reasonable route out of Syria.

2.)  If the credibility hit to the Mayas will unfairly denigrate the Incas’ reputation.

3.)  If Groupon’s decline in public value inversely forecasts an economic recovery by way of people no longer needing coupons, or if it means people just don’t want to go rollerskating.

4.)  If the plight of Groupon and the potential of a misguided credibility hit to the Incas will result in discounted trips to Machu Picchu.

5.)  If Apple Maps will tell me Machu Picchu is at the Four Corners of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado.

What’s the difference between New York City and Paris? “New York is fried, Paris is baked,” Baldwin tells us. When he leaves Brooklyn for a two-year stint in Paris, he hopes for more of a contrast than that. What he finds is that the world is smaller than even Disney could have imagined. “The Great French Dream didn’t sound much different than the Great American Dream, only with More Vacation Days.” Even the costumes are the same. “Hey, is it me,” he asks, “or did Parisians ditch berets for Yankees caps?” All the Parisian men he knows dress like him, in jeans. Shockingly, two-thirds of his ad agency colleagues lunch on McDonald’s (albeit in courses, with chicken nuggets serving as the entrée). Even the president at the time, Nicolas Sarkozy, is an American-style leader, all flash and bling.

Sports talk is social currency, and following local teams glues a community together. In Light Lifting, MacLeod shows that such trivia is not trivial, but a way to show a profound commonality when so much else separates us, as well as a conversation starter when other subjects are too fraught. For instance, in “Wonder About Parents,” when a young couple visiting their family for Christmas spend an evening at a bar debating the best nickname in the history of the Detroit Pistons, they are proving that they still belong to the place where they grew up. Sports talk also allows them to avoid discussing their severely ill baby without clamming up altogether.