Rules for Writers

Prose That Swings

The Typewriter for Orchestra (1950) by Leroy Anderson, performed at “Voces para la Paz,” Músicos Solidarios, Auditorio Nacional de Música de Madrid, June 12, 2011. The soloist is Alfredo Anaya. Euphony — the music good prose makes — matters. It may be the product of rhyme; of rhythm; of consonance (“The repetition of consonants or of a consonant pattern, […]

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How Not to Respond to Hatchet Jobs

As an author who’s seen the fruit of seven years’ labor reduced to a smoking hole by a drone strike in The New York Times Book Review, I sometimes wonder why there aren’t more revenge killings by aggrieved authors. Come to think of it, I can’t recall any, which, given the nursed grudges and preening […]

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Death Sentences: How to Write Your Own Eulogy

When Peter Schjeldahl’s doctor handed him a diagnosis, in 2019, of Stage 4 lung cancer, the New Yorker art critic did what writers do: turned life into art, writing a discursive yet seamlessly joined essay, 9,000-plus words long, tracing the arc of his life (he was 77 at the time) and confronting a mortality just […]

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