flow, rhythm

The joy of style

June 29, 2016 | 5 Comments

Ernest Hemingway’s incantatory prose

August 31, 2012 | 8 Comments

My posts about prose stylist Verlyn Klinkenborg made me think of Ernest Hemingway. Here’s the first paragraph of Hemingway’s 1926 story “In Another Country”: In the fall the war was always there, but we did not go to it any more. It was cold in the fall in Milan and the dark came very early. Then the electric lights came on, and it was pleasant along the streets looking in the windows. There was much game hanging outside the shops, …

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Noted: ‘Steal Like an Artist’

April 14, 2012 | 14 Comments

Your job is to collect good ideas. The more good ideas you collect, the more you can choose from to be influenced by.—Steal Like an Artist Austin Kleon is a writer and visual artist—collage and sketches and mashups—whose magical new little book is a smash hit, a New York Times bestseller. I’m eager to read it. Plus he’s from here in Ohio and attended an institution right down the road, Miami University of Ohio. His website and related pages, including …

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Noted: A moving essay on loss

December 17, 2010 | 6 Comments

The current New Yorker (December 13, 2010) includes an essay by Joyce Carol Oates, “A Widow’s Story,” subtitled “The last week of a long marriage,” about the unexpected swift decline and death of Oates’s husband of forty-seven years, the editor Raymond Smith, at age seventy-seven. “So much to say in a marriage, so much unsaid,” she writes simply of her regret. “You assume that there will be other times, other occasions. Years.” Here’s an excerpt: Ray read little of my …

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Lessons from writing my memoir . . .

August 22, 2010 | 17 Comments

Five years ago I began writing a memoir about my experiences farming in Appalachian Ohio. My official start was September 1, as I recall, but I was gearing up at this time of year, in late August, when the common Midwestern wildflowers are blooming. Right now, you can see flowering together in fertile meadows and damp unkempt roadsides: purple ironweed, saffron goldenrod, yellow daisies, and, above it all, the airy mauve bursts of Joe Pye weed. Shade trees look dusty …

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Rhythm & flow in works of prose

October 6, 2009 | 3 Comments

Varying length, structure of sentences fosters voice & musicality. Clarity is a high virtue, but so is beauty; and increasingly I see that it is from varying length and sentence structure that writers achieve voice, rhythm, emphasis, and musicality. Variation works because we naturally vary our speaking rhythm when we’re emotionally connected to what we’re saying: “He fouled me! That jerk! Coach! You’re always telling us This is just a scrimmage—we’re still on the same team—don’t get carried away. Didn’t  you …

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A nifty concise essay

September 4, 2009 | 2 Comments

David Bailey—magazine journalist, restaurant critic and worker, foodie and barista, knockabout North Carolina writer, and my friend—has posted a delightful concise essay, “Daddy Needs a New Pair of Shoes,” on his blog, My Pie Hole. It’s a ramble, with visuals, voice, and flow. A taste: “I’ll admit that the kitchen dress code was easy to comply with: t-shirts, white sox, black pants and black shoes. The shoes were a trifle irksome, though. One pair admittedly looked a little worse for …

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