New book: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

What is it about 19th century English literature that is so infuriating? I say English literature because, until Walt Whitman and Mark Twain liberated the American tongue, there is little that the amateur student can distinguish between British novelists and American ones. The Americans, in fact, were aspirant imitators of their British peers. Consider how Poe milks … Continue reading

Defragging a Scene (and killing an Internet lie!)

First, I’ll kill an internet lie. (This is a good one, folks.) You’ve probably heard the famous line that celebrates brevity in writing: “I apologize for the length of this letter. If I’d had more time it would have been shorter.” If you’ve heard it, you’ve probably heard it attributed to Mark Twain. This is … Continue reading

What Novels Make You Feel Uneasy on the First Page?

On page 126 of If on a winter’s night a traveler a character obsessed with reading everything she can get her hands on makes this statement: The novels I prefer are those that make you feel uneasy from the very first page. What kind of novels are those? I have to say that the experience … Continue reading