Forget theme! Instead ask, “And so, what’s my point?” - Theme is something writers often talk about, especially literary writers. You rarely hear a romance writer agonize over nailing her theme before she begins...
3 hours ago
To celebrate the 60th year of the National Book Awards, the National Book Foundation will present a book-a-day blog on the Fiction winners from 1950 to 2008.
The blog will run from July 7th to September 21st, starting with Nelson Algren’s The Man With the Golden Arm, ending with Peter Matthiessen’s Shadow Country, and including works by Ralph Ellison, Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, and Alice McDermott. Discover lesser known but equally talented National Book Award Fiction Winners such as Conrad Richter, Wright Morris, and Robb Forman Dew. Then return here, on September 21st, you will have a chance to select The Best of the National Book Awards Fiction and win two tickets to the 2009 National Book Awards, the first time in its history the Awards will open to a public vote.
Visit every day for the next 77 days, and get your copies of these American classics from your local bookstore, online bookseller, or library.
Noah Lukeman is author of the bestselling The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile (Simon & Schuster, 1999); of the bestselling The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life (St Martin's Press, 2002), a BookSense 76 Selection, a Publishers Weekly Daily pick, and a selection of the Writers Digest Book Club; and of A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation (WW Norton, 2006). His books are already part of the curriculum in many universities. He has also worked as a collaborator, and is co-author, with Lieutenant General Michael “Rifle” DeLong, USMC, Ret., of A General Speaks Out (Zenith, 2006), a Main Selection of the Military Book Club. He has contributed to Poets & Writers, Writers Digest, The Writer, and to The Writers Market, and was anthologized in The Practical Writer (Viking, 2004). Foreign editions of his books have been published in the UK and in many languages, including Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Turkish and Indonesian. Noah Lukeman is also president of Lukeman Literary Management Ltd, a New York-based literary agency, which he founded in 1996. His clients include winners of the Pulitzer Prize, American Book Award, Pushcart Prize, and O. Henry Award, finalists for the National Book Award, Edgar Award, Pacific Rim Prize, multiple New York Times bestsellers, national journalists, major celebrities, and faculties of American universities ranging from Harvard to Stanford. He has worked as a manager in the New York office of Artists Management Group, Michael Ovitz's multi-talent management company, and has worked for another New York literary agency. Prior to becoming an agent he worked on the editorial side of several major publishers, including William Morrow and Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, and as editor of a literary magazine. He earned his BA with High Honors in English and Creative Writing from Brandeis University, cum laude. To contact the author, visit: www.adashofstyle.com.
I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster. It was just after dark. A blustery March wind whipped the steam coming out of the manholes, and people hurried along the sidewalks with their collars turned up. I was stuck in traffic two blocks from the party where I was heading.
"A Visit to the Asylum"
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Once from a big, big building,
When I was small, small,
The queer folk in the windows
Would smile at me and call.
And in the hard wee gardens
Such pleasant men would hoe:
"Sir, may we touch the little girl's hair!"—
It was so red, you know.
They cut me coloured asters
With shears so sharp and neat,
They brought me grapes and plums and pears
And pretty cakes to eat.
And out of all the windows,
No matter where we went,
The merriest eyes would follow me
And make me compliment.
There were a thousand windows,
All latticed up and down.
And up to all the windows,
When we went back to town,
The queer folk put their faces,
As gentle as could be;
"Come again, little girl!" they called, and I
Called back, "You come see me!"
The President praised the [Medal of Freedom] recipients for breaking down barriers and lifting up their fellow citizens: "These outstanding men and women represent an incredible diversity of backgrounds. Their tremendous accomplishments span fields from science to sports, from fine arts to foreign affairs. Yet they share one overarching trait: Each has been an agent of change. Each saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way."
There is a town of 1,471 happy souls in Quebec called Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!. The second "Ha!", amazingly, is part of the town's name, not my commentary on the first "Ha!". Unlike, for example, the Devon town of Westward Ho! Ho! There, the second "Ho!" is mine. Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! is the only town in the world whose name has two exclamation marks. It will remain so until Wolverhampton is renamed Wolverhampton!! to highlight its funky new Black Country vibe, which, all things considered, seems unlikely.
Exclamation points can instantly infuse electronic communication with human warmth...Because email is without effect, it has a dulling quality that almost necessitates kicking everything up a notch just to bring it up to where it would normally be. If you try saying "Thanks" or "Congratulations" in the flattest tone you can muster, you'll notice it sounds sarcastic. Without an exclamation point, these may read the same way on the screen.
Except in poetry the exclamation mark should be used sparingly. Excessive use of exclamation marks in expository prose is a sure sign of an unpractised writer or of one who wants to add a spurious dash of sensation to something unsensational.
I never finished my original goal of walking to Germany. Instead, I walked for a year and roughly 4500km, passed the desert of Gobi, and then decided to stop walking for now. All of the distance from Beijing to Ürümqi has been completed solely on foot, straight good old walking. There are instances where you can see me in the video sitting on a plane or riding a boat, but those are during breaks I had to take from walking, either to sort out bureaucracy issues or to take care of some personal things.
I had been planning this trip for over a year before I even started, and getting as far as I got was an experience for which I am very grateful. Obtaining the necessary visa for a trip like this was not very easy, hence I had to go back to Beijing a few times to resolve some issues.
The songs I used in the video are 1) Zhu Fengbo - "Olive Tree" and 2) The Kingpins - "L'aventurier" - visit the Kingpins website if you want to know more, they are very cool I think.
This is not a strict "1 pic a day" video, because I wanted to make it a bit more alive by adding some additional movement. Sometimes during the film you would follow me turn around, or something would happen in the background. I tried to capture these moments to make the video more interesting.
"One of the few ways I can almost be certain I'll understand something is by sitting down and writing about it. Because by forcing yourself to write about it and putting it down in words, you can't avoid having to come to grips with it. You might be wrong, but you have to think about it very intensely to write about it. So I use writing as a learning tool."
- Hunter S. Thompson
Before I go on with this short history, let me make a general observation -- the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise. This philosophy fitted on to my early adult life, when I saw the improbable, the implausible, often the “impossible,” come true. Life was something you dominated if you were any good. Life yielded easily to intelligence and effort, or to what proportion could be mustered of both. It seemed a romantic business to be a successful literary man -- you were not ever going to be as famous as a movie star but what note you had was probably longer-lived; you were never going to have the power of a man of strong political or religious convictions but you were certainly more independent. Of course within the practice of your trade you were forever unsatisfied -- but I, for one, would not have chosen any other.
Life, ten years ago, was largely a personal matter. I must hold in balance the sense of futility of effort and the sense of the necessity to struggle; the conviction of the inevitability of failure and still the determination to “succeed” -- and, more than these, the contradiction between the dead hand of the past and the high intentions of the future. If I could do this through the common ills -- domestic, professional, and personal -- then the ego would continue as an arrow shot from nothingness to nothingness with such force that only gravity would bring it to earth at last.
For seventeen years, with a year of deliberate loafing and resting out in the center -- things went on like that, with a new chore only a nice prospect for the next day. I was living hard, too, but: “Up to forty-nine it’ll be all right,” I said. “I can count on that. For a man who’s lived as I have, that’s all you could ask.”
And then, ten years this side of forty-nine, I suddenly realized I had prematurely cracked.
After being diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the age of 27, Rosenthal, a choreographer and now a patient advocate for young adults with cancer, crisscrossed the country, interviewing other young cancer victims. Rosenthals text is part guidebook, part true confessions (including her own), as she segues between intimate conversations and sound advice on topics ranging from dating and parenting to working the health-care system and coping with pain. The interviews are riveting...the work as a whole is poignant, raw and informative.