Tag Archives: literature

Elizabeth Bishop Once Danced with a Man who Danced with a Girl who Danced with the Prince of Wales

In the Times Literary Supplement, Michael Hoffman puzzles me with a review of Megan Marshall’s “A miracle for Breakfast,” a biography of the much-celebrated poet Elizabeth Bishop. I understand that Bishop must have been good at the business of writing; … Continue reading

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Why Ewan McGregor’s American Pastoral is Better than Philip Roth’s

Addition by subtraction is a common concept in, of all places, sports. Say, you have a team with a player who hugs the ball, is not a good team-mate, etc. Even if this guy is a good player at that … Continue reading

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Against George Plimpton

I don’t remember how or why I came across the self-published autobiography of Robert S. Griffin, a cranky, retired college professor. I certainly forgot why I felt compelled to download it and put it in my tablet reading list, but … Continue reading

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The Ugly Truth About Editing (feat. Raymond Carver)

Some eight years ago, a particularly irritating day during my tenure as correspondent for Dow Jones Newswires in Singapore, I came up with a list itemizing the three kinds of copy-editors one can find: 1.The hands-off editor, who will change … Continue reading

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James Salter: the Writer’s Writer who betrayed all Writers (2)

I discussed how Salter achieved greatness in a previous post. This is about how he betrayed his gifts and fellow writers, and even literature, in his later years. After The Hunters (1957) and the similarly-themed The Arm of Flesh (1961), … Continue reading

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James Salter: The Writer’s Writer who betrayed all Writers (1)

When James Salter died in 2015, the consensus obituary went like this (my summary): A great writer’s writer passed away, much esteemed by his fellow writers, but little known by the general public despite the success of his first novel, … Continue reading

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Dante Alighieri, Bad Propagandist (2)

I’ve been reading the French-language series of historical novels Le Rois Maudits, which is excellent (and promoted in English version by George RR Martin: “This is the original Game of Thrones!”). In the third volume, “The Poisoned Crown,” Dante Alighieri, … Continue reading

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