Tag Archives: Writing

‘And the boys’

I’d no idea John Podhoretz was going to play literary critic and re-post Esquire‘s list of eighty books every person should read chosen by three women, published in January 2015. Toni Morrison’s Sula made the list — a novel I … Continue reading

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Cosmos and cardiology

When I share anecdotes, I worry whether my posts will look like this drool, a simpering attempt at profundity. The actor from HBO’s Girls, new to New York City and homosexuality, drinks Cosmos with a blue-eyed handsome man in 2001 … Continue reading

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‘The light passes/from ridge to ridge’

I’ve avoided the Imagists because so much (bad) contemporary poetry confuses vagueness for lacunae. Hilda Doolittle, like William Carlos Williams, is easily imitated and rarely matched. After a month of ninety-degree days, the delicacy of “Evening” is like a cool … Continue reading

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‘You know, we’re going to have work visas for the farm workers’

The forty-fifth president did The Economist a favor by handing its reporters a fresh word salad. I leave it to my readers to choose their favorite quote: I don’t know who the people are that would put us into a … Continue reading

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The drip drip drip of semantic barbarism

It’s been a punishing campaign season. If any group besides American voters has endured the worst of the sucker punches, it’s those who believe in the purity of English. Here are six political cliches I hope get burned with Trump … Continue reading

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‘The man who claims authority…is an object of distrust and resentment’

“America has always been a country of amateurs where the professional, that is to say, the man who claims authority as a member of an elite which knows the law in some field or other, is an object of distrust … Continue reading

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‘Most trends exist because they’re permitted to exist and have not been slaughtered’

The Believer published an interview with the late Edward Albee in 2013 that’s a minor masterpiece of sourness, and Albee’s right to be sour. <blockquoteEA: What is the MFA? JH: Master of Fine Arts degree. EA: I wasn’t aware of … Continue reading

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The phoniness of objectivity

“‘Objectivity” is nothing more than a way to protect the status quo,” wrote friend and colleague Maura Johnston yesterday. The New York Times’ public editor  Liz Spayd wrote a Sunday column called “The Truth About ‘False Balance’.”  Justin Peters’ response: “What Spayd … Continue reading

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“The unpunctuated, un-ended sentence is incredibly addicting”

Using periods in text messages signifies anger, according to Ben Crair. In the newest cohort of teens and twentysomethings, period use gives the impression of shutting down a conversation. Well, yeah! This is one of the functions of periods. This … Continue reading

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Adverbs – the siren’s call

A few weeks ago I posted a list of words and phrases I want my students to shun. I also tell them to think twice before using adverbs, specifically the subcategory known as intensifiers (“It was super hot”; “It was … Continue reading

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Let’s start a war! The first visit to the gay bar

On the night I visited my first gay bar my great-grandmother lay in a hospital bed three weeks from dying. I make no causal connection: I happened to be free that night. Besides, she was ninety-five. Dementia had eroded her … Continue reading

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‘Love buries itself in me, up to the hilt’

A new biography of my favorite poet of the last sixty years. I’ve posted many of James Merrill’s poems. This scion (his dad was Charles Merrill, founder of the estimable brokerage firm), whose metrics wove autobiography, casual observations, the occult, … Continue reading

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