Tag Archives: Writing

A lesson from the master

What I’ve learned from twenty-nine years of reading Henry James is the cultivation of a private life, an interiority deepened by contact with our fellow men. The process is circular: the private life helps us understand friends and strangers. “I … Continue reading

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‘Race is the last issue where the devil would ever need an advocate’

Wading into a so-called free speech debate that has given National Review Online its only clicks since January, Maya Rupert questions the role of devil’s advocate when debating racial questions: Armed with the cloak of dispassion, the devil’s advocate is … Continue reading

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It couldn’t have been that easy to forget about me: Tom Petty’s legacy

The thing is, there was always a good Tom Petty song. Casual listening is easy these days. In the same way you’d satisfy your curiosity about an old friend by visiting her Facebook page, or how you’d say hello to … Continue reading

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‘We who follow you invented forgiveness/And forgive nothing’

Because it feels like end times and his publishers have assembled a handsome paperback edition of former poet laureate W.S. Merwin, here is “For a Coming Extinction.” Happy October. Gray whale Now that we are sending you to The End … Continue reading

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The ingénue to sex temptress arc of David Brooks’ career

Sometime this week  David Brooks assembled sounds into phonemes that after hours of cogitation settled into sentence structures. Let’s look at them together: Sometimes pop culture seems completely prepackaged and professionalized, so when somebody steps out and puts on a display … Continue reading

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‘Rebel in the Rye’ clueless about writing

The picture isn’t five minutes old when a voice-over intones, “I’ve always found fiction more compelling than reality.” More goodies like this follow. In Rebel in the Rye, the author of The Catcher in the Rye and Frannie and Zooey, … Continue reading

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‘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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