In January of 1887, Mark Twain wrote the above letter to a Reverend Charles D. Crane, pastor of a Methodist Episcopal Church in Maine, to advise him of the most suitable reading for both children and adults. Twain’s letter—which, as he did nearly all his letters, he signed with his given name of Samuel Clemens (or “S.L.[...]
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We might imagine that David Foster Wallace worked out his neuroses primarily in his voluminous fictional and critical output, but as we see from a fax above to Harper’s editor Joel Lovell, the painful self-consciousness that drove his writing manifested in even the most mundane of documents.
My graduate school supervisor taught me all I know about professional email etiquette. Vague language? Poor form. Typos? Nothing worse. Run-on paragraphs? A big no-no. Spelling your recipient’s name wrong? No coming back from that one.[...]
Alfred Hitchcock, writes James A. Davidson in Images, “is usually mentioned in the same breath with Cornell Woolrich, the literary ‘master of suspense,’” not least because he adapted a novella of Woolrich’s into Rear Window (1954).[...]
Last year, we brought you a description of Hunter S. Thompson’s daily drug and alcohol regimen, consisting of frightening amounts of cocaine and liquor, supplanted by the occasional cup of coffee or acid tab. While the story may be apocryphal, Thompson was no dilettante when it came to psychoactive substances.[...]
Albert Einstein passionately wooed his first wife Mileva Maric, against his family’s wishes, and the two had a turbulent but intellectually rich relationship that they recorded for posterity in their letters.[...]
In July of 1988, Ingmar Bergman—retired from film—turned 70. He had every reason to believe that his best work lay behind him. After all, he had won three Academy Awards (and the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award), two BAFTAs, seven Cannes prizes, six Golden Globes, and a host of other honors.[...]
J.R.R. Tolkien is best known for the sweeping fantasy landscapes of Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit. Apart from being a celebrated author, the Oxford University professor of Anglo-Saxon was also a devoted father who doted on his children.[...]
A few years ago, I stumbled upon a never-sent letter written to a friend when we were both in college. The contents weren’t heavy. Disorganization is the most likely explanation for why it never went in the mail. I cracked the envelope and had a look.
It was a time capsule, for sure, a cringe-inducing one.
Every successful artist must master the art of accepting rejection. “Fail better,” said Beckett in his grim euphemism for perseverance. “I love my rejection slips,” wrote Sylvia Plath in every hopeful poet’s favorite quote. “They show me I try.[...]