Now Playing Tracks

What! You can’t write like that—nobody can! Do it again, Roger

Whenever Roger Angell writes something at the New Yorker these days, whether on baseball, dogs, death, I read it and am infected by how much he savors life. And writing about it. No one writes for the New Yorker in their 90s unless they want to love it to death. 

His right knee drops and twists, and the swing, opening now, carries his body into a golf-like lift and turn that sweetly frees him while he watches the diminishing dot of the ball headed toward the right corner. What! You can’t hit like that—nobody can! Do it again, Derek.

My favorite find at the Strand was intended to end up on Roger Angell’s bookshelf, but I’m glad he ran out of room.  

It’s a copy of the 1987 edition of Best American Essays. Gay Talese edited it. 

For —

Roger Angell —

With best wishes and great respect

Gay Talese

The cities we built.

Colson Whitehead, writing in the New York Times on November 11, 2001

Our streets are calendars containing who we were and who we will be next. We see ourselves in this city every day when we walk down the sidewalk and catch our reflections in store windows, seek ourselves in this city each time we reminisce about what was there 5, 10, 40 years ago, because all our old places are proof that we were here. One day the city we built will be gone, and when it goes, we go. When the buildings fall, we topple, too.

Roosevelt was especially concerned about what he called ‘fact-blindness’: the possibility that telling fake stories about nature might blind us to the true ones. This is the danger of nature faking, making the whale lonely or prophet-hungry, asking the duck to set a mud cast for his own broken leg—the possibility that feeling too much awe about the nature we’ve invented will make us unable to see the nature in which we actually live.
Leslie Jamison

An advance obit seems practically to guarantee its subject eternal life.

Subjects can live so long, in fact, that they survive the writer. When that happens, if the byline is celebrated enough — and the writing too good to consign to the dustbin — our editors may decide to publish the obit, as if from beyond the grave, once its subject has joined its author.

Margalit Fox, The New York Times
In this culture, essays are often written for the sake of writing the essay. Someone finds a quibble of potential interest and quibbles about it. This doesn’t mean the writer isn’t capable of doing something of greater interest, but we generate a lot of prose that’s not vital. The best essays come from the moment in which people really need to work something out.
Marilynne Robinson, The Art of Reading
As harsh as it sounds, that was not why I wrote it. I wrote it because, as I said, I was dealing with all these questions of memory and democracy, and what does that mean. I feel better because I know now. Like, I know. Now, I feel like I’ve solved a problem, I understand something about the world that I didn’t understand before. And that’s why I wrote it. … My role is to answer questions. It doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have opinions.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, relaying a crucial difference between writing about policy and being an activist — which also happens to be the one everyone forgets. From the Longform podcast, which you should listen to. 

You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something. That’s what the phones are taking away, is the ability to just sit there. That’s being a person. Because underneath everything in your life there is that thing, that empty—forever empty. That knowledge that it’s all for nothing and that you’re alone. It’s down there.

And sometimes when things clear away, you’re not watching anything, you’re in your car, and you start going, ‘oh no, here it comes. That I’m alone.’ It’s starts to visit on you. Just this sadness. Life is tremendously sad, just by being in it…

That’s why we text and drive. I look around, pretty much 100 percent of the people driving are texting. And they’re killing, everybody’s murdering each other with their cars. But people are willing to risk taking a life and ruining their own because they don’t want to be alone for a second because it’s so hard.

Louis C.K.
We make Tumblr themes