Month: June 2014

Word Arsenal Special Edition – The Only Dictionary Site You’ll Ever Need

Greetings, noble scribes! I interrupt the regularly scheduled Word Arsenal programming with news of the greatest significance. In my relentless and fevered pursuit of le mot juste, my epic and endless peregrinations over the vast wasteland of interweb hooey, I have stumbled onto a tool that threatens to tip the scales of balance in our ongoing war. I daresay it could make poets of us all! (more…)

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Word Arsenal 6

Ladies and gentlemen, round six is upon us! There’s been a lull in the fighting of late, and the enemy has grown complacent. Across the field, beyond the bloated corpses of the fallen, we can see the lambent light of fires hovering over their trenches, hear the singing and laughter of their soldiers. They mock us. They think our words incapable of harming them, of breaching their redoubt of ignorance.  (more…)

The Origin, by Irving Stone

“Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson


 

Great books remain relevant for a reason – because they teach us something. They better us; broaden our understanding of the world and its many fascinating inhabitants. And for that reason they deserve to be re-introduced, from time to time, so they may find in this vast ocean of distractions, some few new fertile islets upon which to propagate.

One such enduring saga is Irving Stone’s 1980 exploration of the life of Charles Darwin, The Origin. So much more than a fictional biography of one of the greatest minds who ever lived, it serves to immerse us in his world and enable us to understand better the true heights of his genius and courage. It lays bare the distinctly human aspect of the man himself through an exploration of his fears and insecurities over his own writing, and how the world may ultimately perceive him. (more…)

What’s Your Excuse?

This is a kick in the ass to you, to me, to everyone who ever wanted to write and had an hour that they wasted. Writers are dreamers. They have to be. It’s in the job description. But not all dreamers are writers. Some go on dreaming, and their stories are never written, never shared. That part of dreaming is hard work. It’s easier to read silly articles like this than to find the courage to dive in. It’s easier to write silly articles like this than to dive in. Whatever demon is holding you back, I’ve already encountered it, danced with it, sat on a porch and had a fiddle duel with it. Let me save you some trouble.

I can’t fail if I nevtearing-hair-outer begin.

That’s a comforting little prolepsis, isn’t it? You can’t succeed either, though. Next! (more…)

The Minefield of using Dialect in Dialogue

The use of dialect to convey accents or regional argot in fiction is one of those issues that seem to polarize writers and readers both. Many of the so-called experts, preaching from behind their pulpits, will slam the gavel at the mere mention of such parlor tricks in prose, and yet, the more I read the more I realize that the books and authors I most admire are the ones who aren’t afraid to splash their pages with apostrophes and hyphens, and ask their readers to do a little more work.

So how does an aspiring author approach such a minefield without losing a proverbial leg? The ready answer would seem to be very carefully, with delicacy, and perhaps a soupçon of skill, or not at all. (more…)

Word Arsenal 5

I take no pleasure in delivering this nasty little word to you. Actually it’s not so little – do the Germans have any words under 13 letters? – but it is in rather poor taste. It’s a deviant word, really. Downright sadistic. But war is a messy business, and we can’t stand by watching the other buggers enrich uranium without cooking some up ourselves. Unless they don’t know what they’re doing, of course. In that case it might be fun to watch.

Okay, okay, on with it. Word number 5 is: (more…)

 

Hunter S. Thompson – the unequaled, irreverant father of gonzo journalism, and the author (and miraculous survivor) of the semi autobiographical Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, planned his grand departure as only he could – with his giant, bi-thumbed fist shoved up the ass of the world he loved to hate.
R.I.P.

 

Galore, by Michael Crummey

Galore indeed. Michael Crummey, with his third novel, serves up a whole heaping fish-bucket full of fantastical characters and larger than licoverfe, mythical tales that serve to dazzle and astound the reader. For fans of Gabrial Garcia Marquez, Galore will be a reminiscence of sorts, as Crummey makes no bones of his emulation of that master of magic realism. But that’s where the similarities end. (more…)