Tag Archives: Writing

On the Road (original scroll edition) by Jack Kerouac: paper versus oblivion

What was Kerouac trying to do by typing this early version of his classic novel on 120 feet of long strips of paper joined together with tape? How and why does this strange writing technique change what we feel about … Continue reading

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Have you tried the new reduced whiches and thats diet?

You don’t have to be a professional writer to benefit from making your writing sound more natural. The words which or that are often stodgy and unnecessary. Following Strunk and White’s helpful suggestion – under their banner ‘Omit needless words’ – … Continue reading

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Leonardo da Vinci: Philosopher and scientist? #1

Benvenuto Cellini was a virtuoso Renaissance goldsmith, sculptor and wildly indiscreet autobiographer. Yet he soberly recorded King François I of France as saying ‘there had never been born another man in the world who knew as much as Leonardo, not so … Continue reading

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Inventing the future – the earliest mention of the word ‘wordpress’?

Two ifs: if there was a search engine that filtered on the earliest mention of, and if we then looked up ‘WordPress’, we would find this, by James Joyce, from 1939: A bone, a pebble, a ramskin; chip them, chap … Continue reading

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On being a bit deaf

If you are not deaf, you might know someone who is. The admirable Gallaudet Research Institute gives some statistics: ‘if everyone who has any kind of “trouble” with their hearing is included then anywhere from 37 to 140 out of every 1,000 people … … Continue reading

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Hitler and me for the book, the Kindle and writing; Moses, Buddha, Socrates and Jesus Christ against

A book of words is usually fairly simple and ordinary; at its best it can give us a sense that this ordinariness is very special indeed. Of course ‘special’ sounds silly as soon as I write it down, and ‘ordinariness’ … Continue reading

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‘A page of good prose remains invincible’ 1

On April 27, 1982, less than two months before his death from cancer, John Cheever appeared at Carnegie Hall to accept the National Medal for Literature. While his colleagues stood and cheered (“John had nothing but friends,” said Malcolm Cowley), … Continue reading

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