The Virtuous, Ubiquitous Skipping Of Lines And Pages

In Immortality (HarperCollins, New York, 1990), Milan Kundera writes, If a reader skips a single sentence of my novel he won’t be able to understand it, and yet where in the world will you find a reader who never skips a line? Am I not myself the greatest skipper of lines and pages? As a childContinue reading “The Virtuous, Ubiquitous Skipping Of Lines And Pages”

Hermione Lee On Wasting Nothing

The Art of Biography series of interviews at The Paris Review includes the following exchange between Hermione Lee and Louisa Thomas in No. 4: INTERVIEWER This is something you consistently look at—the ways in which a period that is commonly considered a dead period in a writer’s life feeds into their work. I’m thinking especially of Cather and herContinue reading “Hermione Lee On Wasting Nothing”

Repent, The End Of Yet Another Year Is Nigh

It is June 30th, 2015; half the year is over. Depending on your age, you will react to this news with indifference or a curious mix of panic, terror, and melancholy. My reaction, as you might guess by my decision to write this post today, veers–sharply–toward the latter. Forty might be the new thirty, orContinue reading “Repent, The End Of Yet Another Year Is Nigh”

The Clock-Watcher’s Punch In The Gut

Last Monday, as I taught my graduate seminar on The Nature of Law, one of the students in attendance turned to look at the clock: we still had some forty-five minutes to go in a two-hour meeting. As I saw this, I experienced a familiar feeling, one that, as usual, temporarily, if not visibly, incapacitatedContinue reading “The Clock-Watcher’s Punch In The Gut”

Learning From Freud: Addiction, Distraction, Schedules

In An Anatomy of an Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted and The Miracle Drug Cocaine, Howard Markel writes: At some point in every addict’s life comes the moment when what started as a recreational escape devolves into an endless reserve of negative physical, emotional, and social consequences. Those seeking recovery today call this drug-induced nadir a “bottom.”…TheContinue reading “Learning From Freud: Addiction, Distraction, Schedules”

Then, The Eagerly Awaited Letter; Now, The Notification

Every weekday of my two years in boarding school bore witness to the implacable ritual of the mail from home: run to the teacher’s staff-room, ask for the day’s letters and postcards–sorted into piles corresponding to your ‘house‘–and then, surrounded by eager supplicants, call out the names of the lucky ones. At the end ofContinue reading “Then, The Eagerly Awaited Letter; Now, The Notification”

On A Minor Fast

I went on a little fast today. It lasted seven hours. But before you snicker at my pompous announcement of insignificant renunciation, do consider that I did not give up food or drink for that length of time. (Indeed, I made myself a four-egg omelette in that period and ate it with gusto.) Rather, IContinue reading “On A Minor Fast”

Cutting Some Umbilical Cords (The Virtual Kind)

The day after the World Cup ended, I called my cable company and cancelled my cable and land-line subscriptions. (My phone call with my internet service provider’s customer service representative was long-winded, perhaps inevitably so given the number of inducements sent my way suggesting I only change the offerings in my subscription packages, but itContinue reading “Cutting Some Umbilical Cords (The Virtual Kind)”

On Reading the Unreadable (or Persisting)

Michael Greenberg writes of Jorge Luis Borges: He advises his students to leave a book if it bores them: “that book was not written for you,” no matter its reputation or fame. Good advice, but not easily followed. Borges’ advice isn’t easy to follow because the decision to continue reading is just another instance ofContinue reading “On Reading the Unreadable (or Persisting)”

The Curious Irony of Procrastination

Do writers procrastinate more than other people? I wouldn’t know for sure just because I have no idea how much procrastination counts as the norm and what depths practitioners of other trades sink to. But I procrastinate a great deal. (Thank you for indulging me in my description of myself as a ‘writer’; if youContinue reading “The Curious Irony of Procrastination”