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Gabriel García Márquez, the famous Colombian journalist, novelist, short story writer, screenwriter and journalist has died at the age of 87.
One of the most significant authors of the 20th Century, Marquez was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. [MORE]
Micheline Bérnard always loved Lionel Desormeaux. Their parents were friends though that bonhomie had not quite carried on to the children.
Micheline and Lionel went to primary and secondary school together, had known each other all their lives—when Lionel looked upon Micheline he was always overcome with the vague feeling he had seen her somewhere before while she was overcome with the precise knowledge that he was the man of her dreams.
In truth, everyone loved Lionel Desormeaux. He was tall and brown with high cheekbones and full lips. His body was perfectly muscled and after a long day of swimming in the ocean, he would emerge from the salty water, glistening.
Micheline would sit in a cabana, invisible. She would lick her lips and she would stare. She would think, “Look at me, Lionel,” but he never did.
When Lionel walked, there was an air about him. He moved slowly but with deliberate steps and sometimes, when he walked, people swore they could hear the bass of a deep drum. His mother, who loved her only boy more than any other, always told him, “Lionel, you are the son of L’Ouverture.”
He believed her. He believed everything his mother ever told him. Lionel always told his friends, “My father freed our people. I am his greatest son.” In Port-au-Prince, there were too many women. Micheline knew competition for Lionel’s attention was fierce. She was attractive, petite. She wore her thick hair in a sensible bun.
On weekends, she would let that hair down and when she walked by, men would shout, “Quelle belle paire de jambes,” what beautiful legs, and Micheline would savor the thrilling taste of their attention. Most Friday nights, Micheline and her friends would gather at Oasis, a popular nightclub on the edge of the Bel Air slum. She drank fruity drinks and smoked French cigarettes and wore skirts revealing just the right amount of leg.
Lionel was always surrounded by a mob of adoring women. He let them buy him rum and Cokes and always sat at the center of the room wearing his pressed linen slacks and dark tee shirts that showed off his perfect, chiseled arms.
At the end of the night, he would select one woman to take home, bed her thoroughly, and wish her well the following morning. The stone path to his front door was lined with the tears and soiled panties of the women Lionel had sexed then scorned.
On her birthday, Micheline decided she would be the woman Lionel took home. She wore a bright sundress, strapless. She dabbed perfume everywhere she wanted to feel Lionel’s lips. She wore high heels so high her brother had to help her into the nightclub.
When Lionel arrived to hold court, Micheline made sure she was closest. She smiled widely and angled her shoulders just so and leaned in so he could see everything he wanted to see within her ample cleavage. At the end of the night, Lionel nodded in her direction. He said, “Tonight you will know the affections of L’Ouverture’s greatest son.”
One day in late January, the novelist, n 1 editor, and now self-taught Marxist political economist Benjamin Kunkel left Buenos Aires and flew to Rio.
He’d been living in Argentina more on than off since the recession hit, an enviably high-minded take-the-money-and-run expat in the frothy wake of his novel Indecision, and his travel schedule was like a con man’s, always shifting.
In Rio, he met the leftist playwright Wallace Shawn and his girlfriend of 40 years, the short-story goddess Deborah Eisenberg, who were staging a one-night-only performance of Shawn’s The Designated Mourner for the benefit of Glenn Greenwald, the national-security-state crusader and Edward Snowden accomplice, who lives there.
Not to benefit; for the benefit of. Greenwald couldn’t feel comfortable coming to New York to see the play, which describes the death of liberal culture at the hands of reactionary forces, so they took the entire Public Theater production to him—“A show of solidarity,” Shawn says. Kunkel calls it “a stunt.” But he says it lovingly, admiringly. “Maybe everything the left does is.”
The guy who wrote this synopsis now writes jokes on George Takei’s Facebook page for $10 a pop. Progress!
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.
Click to learn more…
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.
Last week, we asked you to submit questions to our awesome cohort of copy editors. And you guys totally did! So let’s get to it!
Dear Copy Editor, tell me what you think about the singular possessive for a noun ending in s? Is it James’ or James’s? Does it really matter anyway? Oh, and I really hate it when people pluralize abbreviations and acronyms with an apostrophe (CD’s, ATM’s) but I see it in legitimate news sources all the time! Should I be forgiving, or continue on hating? (Asked by thirteenstiel)
Here at Newsweek, the rule is to hang an apostrophe and S at the end of every singular noun that ends with S, per Strunk and White. The problem comes when you have pseudo-singular nouns: the United States, General Motors, the New York Knicks. Are they one thing—a country, a company, a team—or several things? These we deal with on a case-by-case basis, so: the United Nations’, The New York Times's. But if it actually is a bunch of things grouped together (U.S., U.N), we try to recognize that with the apostrophe-only approach.
I agree on the second point, but it’s often a necessary evil with dealing with all-caps copy, as we often do here at Newsweek.
Is it ‘lead’ or ‘lede’ paragraph? Can people ever be evacuated? What does TK stand for? (Asked by lazenby)
"Lead" and the journalism slang word "lede" both can be used to refer to that first paragraph.
Yes, people can be evacuated. At Newsweek and The Daily Beast, we use Webster’s New World College Dictionary, which defines “evacuate” as “to remove (inhabitants, etc.) from (a place or area), as for protective purposes,” among other things. “Evacuate” also means “to withdraw.” Therefore, people can be evacuated, and they also can evacuate.
TK is not exactly an acronym, but means “to come.”
How do you fix dangling modifiers? (Asked by michaelbrownart)
A dangling modifier can be fixed by rewriting the sentence. Precisely how to do so will vary on a case-by-case basis. Here’s an example: “After working a long day, the dinner was exactly what was needed.” In this sentence, the dinner worked a long day. It could be rewritten as “After a long day of work, the dinner was exactly what was needed” or “After he worked a long day, the dinner was exactly what he needed.”
Is it “spelled” or “spelt”? (Asked my lovetherainmost)
It’s “spelled” in America and “spelt” in Britain, unless you’re shopping in a health-food store. The U.S./U.K. divide is also seen in burned/burnt and pleaded/pled, but the rule is not universal. No one ever claims, “George Washington sleeped here.”
What’s with em dashes? Only journalists seem to use them. When is it preferred over two dashes or even a pair of offsetting commas? (Asked by dannygronerportfolio)
A Slate article that went viral among copy editors last year addresses the overuse of and lack of rules for em dashes.
When using software with the capabilities to make em dashes, they are preferred to two hyphens to mean the same thing. As for using them instead of offsetting commas or parentheses, em dashes can be effective for emphasis and clarity, especially when what is being set off is a series of items or contains some punctuation. Here is an example from last week’s Daily Beast article by Chris Lee on Jennifer Lawrence’s fame: On Late Show with David Letterman Monday, the 21-year-old actress remarked on how much Hunger Games fans—zealots who scream, cry, nearly faint, and show up decked out in the survivalist garb of her character Katniss Everdeen—basically creep her out.
Do you have a pressing question for our copy editors? Submit your own question(s) here.