Category Archives: thoughts

writers gotta eat—or do they?

I have just embarked on a new dietary regime. It is called the 5:2 Fast Diet: a diet in which you fast for 2 days a week and then eat and drink what you like for the remaining 5 days. … Continue reading

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another first: The Floating Opera by John Barth

Another novel, another opening sentence. This post is about the opener for The Floating Opera by John Barth, first published in 1956 when the author was 25 years old. And how did I come to read The Floating Opera just … Continue reading

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a first sentence can tell you a lot: The Amber Spyglass

Time again to examine the opening sentence of a novel. This time the novel is The Amber Spyglass, published in 2000, the third and final volume of Philip Pullman’s young-adult fantasy series His Dark Materials. Without further ado: In a … Continue reading

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the day I became an artist

Saul Bellow said that a writer is a reader who is moved to emulation. From my own experience, this seems to be true. The book that has had the most influence on me, that has made the deepest impression, is … Continue reading

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the breakfast of champions

Isn’t it interesting that we will often accept and even prefer the same food for breakfast every day, while to do this for our evening meal would seem like the behavior of an ascetic—or a pauper? In the evening we … Continue reading

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a sentence with hidden depths

Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo. . . . Thus the … Continue reading

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tonight’s bout: Paul Clifford vs. Christopher Columbus

All right, I was talking about examining the opening sentences of novels that I read and comparing them with the “zero level” opener to Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s 1830 Paul Clifford, the infamous, “It was a dark and stormy night. . . … Continue reading

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well begun is half done

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene … Continue reading

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like the shampoo bottle says: “repeat”

My life is both happiest and most productive when it is structured. I seem to need structure and routine to make the most of my time. On the one hand, this accords with the way the archetype of the Professor … Continue reading

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reading the author and not just his reputation

I keep my reading list in a note on my iPhone. Whenever I come across a book I think I might want to read, I add it to the list. Most of the entries are nonfiction, and there are more … Continue reading

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