January 8, 2012 |
"Your sentences are so long," said a friend who teaches English at a local college, and I could tell she didn't quite mean it as a compliment. The copy editor who painstakingly went through my most recent book often put yellow dashes on-screen around my multiplying clauses, to ask if I didn't want to break up my sentences or put less material in every one. Both responses couldn't have been kinder or more considered, but what my friend and my colleague may...
December 20, 2009 |
It was already clear, in December of 1999, that books were a dying species. Already more people seemed interested in producing novels than consuming them, and when it came to serious works, there seemed more fascination with the writer than the writing. Books, I heard from two serious, bewildered editors in New York on the same trip, were now part of the "entertainment industry," and a first-time novelist was as likely to be judged on the power of his author photo as on the character of his content.
May 24, 2009 |
If Nobel laureate Toni Morrison edits a collection of famous writers on the subject of censorship and the power of the written word, wouldn't you expect a firecracker read? After all, what better lightning-rod topic exists for writers than the threat of shutting off their computers?
April 13, 2008 |
"THE pope?" Josef Stalin once asked a Western diplomat, according to a cherished tale preserved in countless history books. "How many divisions has he got?" Now that the long-simmering conflict between Tibet and China is boiling up again, the same question is surely being asked these days in Beijing about the Dalai Lama.
June 2, 2004 |
Travel writing is a hardy genre. Despite being belittled by some highbrows, it is as much a Darwinian survivor as the beggars and brigands, geographic and archeological features travel writers seek out to celebrate. Does the genre persist and thrive because of the prodigious talents -- De Tocqueville, Melville, Stevenson, Twain, Greene, to mention a handful -- who have been drawn to the exercise?
February 23, 2003 |
Look up the word "mystery" in any good dictionary, and you'll find a definition that has been effectively pushed aside over the centuries by conventional usage: "a religious truth that one can know only by revelation and cannot fully understand." Webster's Ninth New Collegiate, for example, makes mention of the Assumption of Mary, the Eucharist and even the secret rites of certain Eleusinian and Mithraic cults before proffering definitions dealing with crime fiction or everyday inscrutability.