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Tom Wolfe remembers his greatest humiliation—that thing that happens in New York City when you try and flag a cab but some assh*le steals it right from under your finger. This happened to Tom Wolfe. In the 60’s. And it still haunts him.
[This ran with the super longreads piece Tom Wolfe wrote for Newsweek on Wall Street “eunuchs.”]
Bret Easton Ellis vs. David Foster Wallace: A Literary Fight (but not the best of all time, clearly)
Writers have been aggregating, storing and sharing information through “commonplace books” for centuries—it’s only the technology that’s changed:
Before the affordability of personal libraries, and before people were able to access the world’s knowledge through the Internet, readers and writers had to find reasonable ways to consolidate and store information that could be useful to them. There were no social media to help them aggregate and share stories, quotes, recipes, or images. That doesn’t mean they didn’t do exactly that. They created personal anthologies called commonplace books.
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Commonplace books functioned as literary scrapbooks filled with quotes, poems, proverbs, prayers, recipes, and letters. Each was a unique collection that reflected the interests of its creator. “Great wits have short memories,” as a Chinese proverb goes; and so their short memories have driven the great wits to keep commonplace books.
[Photo: Sara Coleridge’s commonplace book, with some watercolors and poems. She was an English author and translator who was the daughter of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.]
David Rakoff, a “writer, aesthete, genius, New York devotee (the City was “the great love of my life,” he wrote), exceptional reporter and observer, performer, director and incredibly kind person,” has died of cancer. Give his This American Life episodes a listen.
The above screenshot is from his book, Half Empty, as screengrabbed by The Awl.
Jennifer Finney Boylan’s advice for you aspiring authors. Jennifer started her writing career as James Boylan, writing such bestselling novels as author of the novels The Constellations (1994), The Planets (1991), and Getting In (1998), and then became the first bestselling transgender author in 2003 with She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders. Check out the full interview.