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A reader (who defined herself as ‘a young 83’) wrote to me last week to let me she was enjoying The Great American Desert, and when I asked her what it was about it that she enjoyed she replied as follows: Mostly I love the book because it is  ‘clean’. Call me old fashioned but […]

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In a story called “The Sandman” by Donald Barthelme there is a fine statement on the state of the artist.  There is no such thing, he says, as a ‘successful artist’ because “The actualization fails to equal, meet, the intuition.  There is something ‘out there’ which cannot be brought ‘here.’”  The fate of the true […]

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Rather incoherent, says Virginia Woolf, and also, as is the case with all theories, too definite. Theories often seem too definite to me, too, especially theories about art, but still I can’t resist whittling away at one.  Earnest Hemingway says that when he used to get writer’s block he would write down the truest thing […]

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As faithful readers of this column will recall, my timetable for book marketing was made a hash of by my printer’s failure to deliver the goods on time.  By the time I had the books in hand, the insanity of the Christmas season was upon us.  So I put most of my marketing campaign on […]

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I have just begun Cyril Connolly’s Enemies of Promise, which, like Orwell’s “Inside the Whale,” is an examination of the state of English literature.  In his youth, Connolly was widely supposed to have a great career as a writer before him, but what he became instead, mostly, was a literary critic.  I generally don’t read […]

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George Orwell’s essay ‘Inside the Whale’ is, among other things, an examination into the state of English literature.  It’s always comforting for a writer to read anything that suggests that somewhere over the rainbow is a place where people care about the written word.  Orwell cares for at least two reasons, one being that he […]

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I’ve been asking some of my regular blog readers what they would like to hear about, and one has suggested that I write about how being in Spain last summer helped me to get writing again.  That’s an easy one.  It was so hot during the day that I pretty much gave up on my […]

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