It was not long after his death in Marfa that Ambrose Bierce was killed near the village of Icamole when he and an Indian muleteer were the only ones who didn’t escape as Villa’s forces overran a party of government soldiers driving a mule train loaded with arms. This time Bierce was riding with the Federales. Both prisoners were executed by a firing squad under the orders of General Tomas Urbina. That’s what journalist James H. Wilkins asserted in his front-page article in San Francisco’s The Bulletin in March 1920. Wilkins had gone to Mexico and personally interviewed a witness who had managed to snatch a photo of a man—identified as Bierce—along with a few other personal possessions from the corpse before it was abandoned, unburied, in the desert.
East Maxman has gone off on a c-nd-m in a pamphlet arguing everybody should support Wussia, for the nonce. ‘Time’ (a loose) mag says Don Josh Bathos of London England told P.E.N. innulluxuls that for the nonce writers shouldn’t be writing. Each collective choisi(pastparticiple,you recall,of choisir)without exception and—may I add—very naturally desires for the nonce nothing but Adolph’s Absolute Annihilation, Coûte Que Coûte (SIC). A man who once became worshipped of one thousand million pibbul by not falling into the ocean while simultaneously peeping through a periscope and sucking drugstore sandwiches is excoriated for,for the nonce,freedom of speech.
For years, one of the best ways to make a living as a writer (if you didn’t want to go into academia) was to become an ad copywriter. They heyday of print was flush with opportunities to make bank off billboards and publications. At The Paris Review Daily, Dan Piepenbring looks back on the ad copy of Fay Weldon, who gave the UK, among other things, the slogan “Vodka makes you drunker quicker.” (Related:Hope Mills on working for a creative agency.)
If you would write, try to be terse and in some measure original—the world abounds with new similes and metaphors… If you cannot tell people of something they have not seen, or have not thought, it is hardly worthwhile to write at all.
Most readers have their own idiosyncratic systems for displaying the most valuable titles they own. For a lot of people, it makes the most sense to keep their favorite books on a particular shelf. At The Paris Review Daily, Sadie Stein writes about an odd phenomenon — “The Phantom Shelf,” which consists of books you love so much you had to lend them to friends. (Related: Kevin Hartnett on reading our parents’ bookshelves.)
Do you know why teachers use me? Because I speak in tongues. I write metaphors. Every one of my stories is a metaphor you can remember. The great religions are all metaphor. We appreciate things like Daniel and the lion’s den, and the Tower of Babel. People remember these metaphors because they are so vivid you can’t get free of them and that’s what kids like in school. They read about rocket ships and encounters in space, tales of dinosaurs. All my life I’ve been running through the fields and picking up bright objects. I turn one over and say, Yeah, there’s a story.
J.D. Salinger‘s house is on the market and generating plenty of buzz, but before you make an offer consider “what does it mean to want to live in a dead writer’s house? When does fandom devolve into idolatry?”
“Characters are ciphers. … We are ever reviewing and reconsidering our mental portraits of characters in novels: amending them, backtracking to check on them, updating them when new information arises.” Peter Mendelsund writes about what we think we see when we read.