"Raymond’s eye for telling detail is very fine, as one expects of an accomplished writer, but to this she adds the informing eye of a natural historian of place.”
— John Keeble, author of Nocturnal America
Midge Raymond
Midge's blog about writing . . . reading . . . and everything in between

Stuff for writers

While most writers know that book titles can’t be copyrighted, we have yet to see another Moby-Dick or Gone with the Wind. What’s far more common, as this site shows, is using same cover art for many different books.

Doesn’t every writer love a good malapropism? This NY Times article reminded me of my days living in Taipei, when I’d encounter various bizarre English translations. Visitors to Shanghai won’t be able to enjoy similar mistakes much longer, thanks to the Shanghai Commission for the Management of Language Use, which is fixing everything from menus to street signs. So long to menus listing “monolithic tree mushroom stem squid” and restroom signs reading “urine district.” Check out the Times slide show for a few hilarious examples, including the one below.

Speaking of being lost in translation: From Jhumpa Lahiri to Chuck Palahniuk to Donald Barthelme, authors’ names are often mispronounced with such authority that soon even the correct pronunciation sounds wrong. Click here for a guide.

I rather enjoyed this Life magazine slide show entitled “Famous Literary Drunks & Addicts.” If nothing else, it made me feel pretty healthy by comparison.

Having trouble jump-starting your latest story? The American Book Review lists the best 100 first lines from novels here … it’s inspiring, if a little intimidating.

And finally — and definitely inspiring — is this blog from Alan Rinzler on finding courage as a writer, with such advice as not being afraid to talk to yourself, to let things simmer, and to start over.

Enjoy.



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2 comments

1 mickey { 05.11.10 at 1:03 pm }

I noticed recently that a lot of book covers are the same, or at least very similar. I nearly bought the wrong book when I went to the store to get “Olive Kittridge.” I had mistakenly picked “Hotel At The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet” off the shelf. The covers are really similar!

2 Sean Farley { 05.11.10 at 3:54 pm }

Wow. This was certainly a great way to kill an hour in the office away from lab! Those were some great links. The 1st liners was interesting. I haven’t even heard of some of those books and authors. I’m curious, though: how do the tortured artists find the wherewithal to create something so structured but can’t do it for the other parts of their lives?

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