CategoryAstound

Dictionaries

Our natural vocabularies are a fraction of the words available, so any writer worth her salt consults dictionaries. I certainly had them at my side while writing my two murder mysteries, but that was eons ago, and lately my nonfiction writing has felt more like assembling serviceable slabs of text accompanied by references. So yesterday I dragged out my piddly suite of dictionaries and set them…

Really write, really write

Patricia Lockwood’s No One Is Talking About This reminds me of Joseph Heller’s Something Happened, not due to any confluence of style or theme, but because it is tough to read over half the book, then a brilliant plot twist plunges the reader into a new dream of life. Lockwood’s nameless hero spends her days in “the portal,” namely online, as an influencer, and the novel unfurls as madly poetic…

Toxic blog silence

Blogging is, of course, different for every blogger. I’m sure for me the chief reason to blog is to talk to myself in a way that my normal thoughts don’t measure up to. When on song, I feel urgent and connected each and every day, and that’s exactly what I seek. But the last month has been silent. Why? Self-doubt must be the main factor. The last month has contained sunny joy…

Grief hand pen

When does grief find resolution? In the moment, that quest stretches forever but you know it can’t and you must not let it.

See this hand. Mourning should not impact a hand of living flesh.

See this pen. See it? Well, grab it. Use it.

Magic from Nicholson Baker

Listen to Nicholson Baker from his magical book about excavating a nation’s dark secrets, Baseless: My Search for Secrets in the Ruins of the Freedom of Information Act … listen (p. 225): “What do I really want from a book? I want truth in every paragraph. I want surprises. I want a sense that everything is not hopeless. That we can do better. I want a sense that life is a complicated…

Wrestling

The last day of winter. Dreary. Will lockdown ease after a further fortnight? I’ve been busy and absorbed, but not always focused on the book, and today I resumed editing a chapter on Soviet reactors. I’d done a major rewrite back in 2017 and a quality edit in 2018. It’s late morning and I can’t summon back the mood of the old work. So I pluck out the 2017 rewrite, on…

Eagleman re thinking harder

Neurologist/author extraordinaire David Eagleman, discussing his brand new book Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain at one of yesterday’s Edinburgh International Book Festival sessions, makes a point many of my acquaintances are well aware of, at least in the superficial way of having read about it in a newspaper: “People who cognitively challenge themselves their…

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