The music of the thirties and forties—swing, the rise of pure jazz, even honky-tonk—was glorious. We can’t wipe out Bing Crosby’s cloying croon, but the rise of Hank Williams, Sr., makes up for Bing. The creators of “Orange Is the New Black” knew what they were doing when they included “I Saw the Light.” It moves all listeners, regardless of belief or lack thereof. The joy and genius of Fats Waller, the growl of Big Joe Turner, the irresistible combination of Billie Holiday and Count Basie (and of Billie Holiday and Artie Shaw) are ornaments on a period of exceptional music, and diving into it was one of the great pleasures of my listening, and writing, life. These songs, these voices, and the great instrumentals still resonate with me, and that’s why each chapter title is a song from that period.
I would like to have been there.
It’s the kind of niggling question that drives a writer mad: is it best to edit a piece after you finish a draft, or is it better to edit while you write? At Electric Lit, Lincoln Michel argues for the latter, on the grounds that it lets writers fix endemic problems before it’s too late. You could also read Lincoln’s 2010 Millions review of the movie Avatar.
“Sitting down to read The Actress, Amy Sohn’s newest novel, is even better than standing in line at the grocery store while the person in front of you disputes the price of a carton of orange juice, giving you extra time to read the tabloids. The Actress might be as licentious as a tabloid, but it is far more intelligently written. And, you probably won’t be reading it while standing in line inside a grocery store.”
Chances are you’ve bragged about the size of your library. The number of books you own is a point of pride for many readers. But at what point does collecting books — which few people would say is a bad thing— turn into a problem? At what point, in other words, does it become hoarding? Pair with: Rebecca Rego-Barry on hunting for rare books at college library book sales.
Between the 1880s and World War I, Hawthorne worked as the literary editor of the New York World, interviewed Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, covered the scandalous Stanford White murder case, reported on the 1900 Galveston hurricane and starvation in India, published five detective novels, became a friend of presidential hopeful William Jennings Bryan, and wrote frequently about sports for various newspapers (being among the first to predict the greatness of Babe Ruth). But needing money in 1908, Hawthorne foolishly lent his name and pen to what turned out to be a bogus silver mine scheme. Convicted of fraud, he served a prison term — and in 1914 produced a major exposé of penal conditions called The Subterranean Brotherhood.
I began believing in ghosts early one morning—at what would have been dawn if Antarctica bothered with dawns—on the bridge of the National Geographic Explorer.