“This is what I mean when I call myself a writer. I construct sentences. There’s a rhythm I hear that drives me through a sentence. And the words typed on the white page have a sculptural quality. They form odd correspondences. They match up not just through meaning but through sound and look.”—
“The problem with the dash—as you may have noticed!—is that it discourages truly efficient writing. It also—and this might be its worst sin—disrupts the flow of a sentence. Don’t you find it annoying—and you can tell me if you do, I won’t be hurt—when a writer inserts a thought into the midst of another one that’s not yet complete?”—
— Noreen Malone, making a case on Slate against the overuse of the em dash, that rebel of the punctuation pantheon that allows a writer to insert a stray piece of information or jump cut from one thought to another.
Putin speaks to high school teacher; hearts Hemingway
"I have always loved and avidly read the novels of Jack London, Jules Verne and Ernest Hemingway. The characters depicted in their books, who are brave and resourceful people embarking on exciting adventures, definitely shaped my inner self and nourished my love for the outdoors." —Vladimir Putin
In which Putin grants an interview to a high school teacher for Outdoor Life, then theNew Yorker picks it up, and we all realize what we already knew.
”I remember one afternoon, in October, hearing a strange sound, a little like surf, and wondering what it was. And later I realized it was the sound made by the crowd at Yankee Stadium when Tommy Henrich hit a late-inning home run.” (NYT)
"I can’t say that I enjoyed every minute of it, or even that I enjoyed all that much of it at all, but I can say that by the time I got to the end of it I was glad to have read it. Not just glad that I had finally finished it, but that I had started it and seen it through. I felt as though I had been through something major, as though I had not merely experienced something but done something, and that the doing and the experiencing were inseparable in the way that is peculiar to the act of reading. And I’ve had that same feeling, I realize, with almost every very long novel I’ve read before or since.”
—Mark O’Connell, on The Stockholm Syndrome Theory of Long Novels in The Millions
This is Edith Wharton’s housekeeper. With her dogs. I know, we’re going a little crazy over here. However, it’s worth mentioning that these images were all found on the fabulous website of Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Yale has just announced that they are making their entire digital collection available to the public for free and unlimited use.
Karl Lagerfeld creating fragrance that smells like books
"Paper Passion, which will be sold inside a hardcover book with the pages hollowed out to hold the flacon, will be developed with Berlin perfumer Geza Schön, who told the paper that "the fragrance will have a fatty note," probably along the lines of linoleum, and that he was taking his inspiration from the smell of printed and unprinted paper."(Independent)
"Awarded to “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer,” by Siddhartha Mukherjee (Scribner), an elegant inquiry, at once clinical and personal, into the long history of an insidious disease that, despite treatment breakthroughs, still bedevils medical science.”
Edna St. Vincent Millay liked her house and her gin
Writer Megan Mayhew Bergman writes about her intimate tour of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s beloved house, Steepletop, and finds her garbage pile, “heavy on gin bottles,” half-hidden in the woods.
Sounds like paradise.
“Dearest Mummie,” she wrote in 1925 from the blueberry farm in Austerlitz, “Here we are, in one of the loveliest places in the world, I am sure, working like Trojans, dogs…having chimneys put in, and plumbing put in and a garage built…but it’s going to be a sweet place when it’s finished—and it’s ours, all ours, about seven hundred acres of land and a lovely house…”
Even circa 1900, Edith Wharton’s socially sensitive anti-heroine Lily Bart in The House of Mirth has strong opinions about what sort of female belongs in a flat, instead of a proper house: “Oh, governesses—or widows. But not girls!”
"From Here to Eternity," now with more homosexuality
The author, James Jones, objected to the changes at the time, arguing in a letter to his editor at Scribner that “the things we change in this book for propriety’s sake will in five years, or ten years, come in someone else’s book anyway.” But eventually he gave in to his publisher.
Sixty years later Mr. Jones’s estate has made a deal to reissue a digital version of the book that restores those cuts. (NYT article)
We would love to watch Frank Sinatra in that scene.
Suzan Sherman In the conclusion of your story “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried”, the chimp who knows sign language and whose baby just died, expresses her grief incredibly honestly in the signs, ”’Baby, come hug, baby, come hug,’ fluent now in the language of grief.” This chimp has the ability, more than the narrator of the story whose best friend is dying, to fully express her emotions to the one that she loves, and stands by the dead and dying when it’s needed the most. It’s as though the animal is more compassionate than the human being is. With your love for dogs and other animals, do you think of them as being more humane than people in some ways?
Amy Hempel I think there’s a purity of feeling there that humans can connect with if we’re lucky, or if we’re looking for it. And in that story, you got it exactly, the animal is capable of the response the human might have liked to have but is incapable of.
SS Animals don’t have any walls that have been built up, boundaries, for protection.
AH Right, and to my knowledge animals don’t hide from real feeling behind sarcasm or irony.
Barry Eisler Departs for the Fertile Grounds of Self-Publishing
"It also would have had to be enough to act as an insurance policy against legacy publisher ineptitude; to be worth giving up the joy and excitement of finally being in charge of all the aspects of publishing I’ve always wanted to be in charge of; and to offset the discomfort of being part of a system that I think is fundamentally flawed and that in many ways has become punitive both to writers and readers."
We wish Mr. Eisler well, of course, but wonder why there isn’t one mention in this entire article of who is going to edit Mr. Eisler’s work. As a “legacy publisher,” we don’t just sit around and screw up author bios and jacket art all day.
“I don’t understand people who want to be writers who don’t read very much. I think there’s something wrong there. It’s like wanting to be a piano player and not listening to very much music… You have to learn to read like a writer, in the same way that a doctor looks at a human body maybe a little bit differently or a painter looks at the human form differently than the rest of us.”—
A very good, and oft-said point. This could also apply to writers, editors, publicists, copyeditors, and oh, yeah the average citizen. Nothing like reading often, and widely, to maintain your active and engaged membership in the human community.
“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over.”—Stephen King, On Writing
The Irish Arts Center is giving away free books all around the five boroughs of New York today to honor Irish and Irish American authors, including our own, Gerard O’Donovan. Happy reading, happy St. Patrick’s Day.