Being Laconic Is Harder Than You Think

One time, the publisher of Mark Twain told him through telegram to write a short story: NEED 2-PAGE SHORT STORY TWO DAYS Twain wired back with this: NO CAN DO 2 PAGES TWO DAYS. CAN DO 30 PAGES 2 DAYS. NEED 30 DAYS TO DO 2 PAGES. “I… never could make a good impromptu speech,” […]

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Gleanings from the Past #81

Crimes in Sherlock Holmes Arthur Conan Doyle There is one fact in connection with Holmes which will probably interest those who have followed his career from the beginning, and to which, so far as I am aware, attention has never been drawn. In dealing with criminal subjects one’s natural endeavour is to keep the crime […]

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The Reason Dostoevsky Preferred to Work at Night

Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821 – 1888) usually liked to work through the night. With tea, cigarettes, and sweets as fuel, he could pull several all-nighters to write his novels. He told a friend through a letter why he preferred to do his business at night: It is night now; the hands of the clock […]

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Gleanings from the Past #80

Cynicism and Horror Only a cynic can create horror — for behind every masterpiece of the sort must reside a driving demonic force that despises the human race and its illusions, and longs to pull them to pieces and mock them. — H. P. Lovecraft, letter to Edward Baird dated c. October 1923, quoted in […]

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E. E. Cummings’ “Anti-Acknowledgement”

In 1935, American poet E. E. Cummings (more popularly written as e. e. cummings) was supposed to publish a book called 70 Poems. Unfortunately, all of the fourteen publishing houses he reached out for turned him down. He had to borrow money from his mother in order to publish his book. Cummings self-published the book and […]

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Gleanings from the Past #79

Understanding Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy ready-made things in the shops. But since there are no shops where you can buy friends, men no longer have any friends. ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, 1943 What Is a Mirror? Then the cow asked: “What is a mirror?” “It is […]

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Peculiar Index Cross-References

The index section of William Hawkins’ Treatise of Pleas of the Crown, a treatise on England’s criminal law published in 1716, contains some quaint and amusing cross-references: Assault, see Son. Chastity, see Homicide. Convicts, see Clergy. Death, see Appeal. King, see Treason. Shop, see Burglary. Sickness, see Bail.  

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Gleanings from the Past #78

Arrière-Pensée Sir, Will you allow me to draw your attention to a very interesting example of the ethics of modern journalism, a quality of which we have all heard so much and seen so little? About a month ago Mr. T. P. O’Connor published in the Sunday Sun some doggerel verses entitled “The Shamrock,” and […]

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The Ironic Tale of Censoring a Book About Censorship (Fahrenheit 451)

Daniel Radosh, a senior writer of Daily Show, related on his Twitter account in 2016 that his son’s school required parents to sign a permission slip before their children could be allowed to read Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451: tfw your kid's school makes you sign a permission slip so he can read Fahrenheit 451 📚 […]

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Some of the Best Lame Analogies

A few days ago, I published a collection of strange lines from serious fiction manuscripts. This made me recalled that the Washington Post, in its Week 310 of “The Style Invitational”, ran a contest in which the participants were tasked to come up with the lamest analogy that they can. The entries were published on March […]

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