Category: Writing

'The Story of English' -- Next year's words

'The Story of English' -- Next year's words
Here, as the last installment of our look at “The Story of English,” is a look at the book’s Epilogue, “Next Year’s Words.” Life has butted its way into my plans for this instalment; other words and expressions appeared that were easier to write about, so I went ahead with those. But I don’t feel alone... Read more »

'The Story of English' -- The New Englishes

'The Story of English' -- The New Englishes
“The Story of English,” the book published to accompany a 1980s Public Broadcasting System series in the U.S., spent a chapter looking at “the new Englishes.” In this chapter, it’s not a case of showing how English has developed over time. In this case, it’s geography. I’ve been studying the chapter gradually because of its... Read more »

Me, myself and I -- and how to use them

Me, myself and I -- and how to use them
When you’re talking or writing about yourself and someone else are you careful about using “me” or “I”? If my ears and eyes are any indicators, few people are. So here’s an easy reminder of how to judge which one to use. It takes just a second to check. You’re going to a concert with... Read more »
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Watch out if someone says he'll 'help you out'

Watch out if someone says he'll 'help you out'
Just a quick observation as we get the week, and perhaps the new school year, started this morning: If someone says “I’ll help you out,” that could mean he’s offering you assistance. But it could mean “There’s the exit door (the door OUT). Use it.” Maybe it would help if we could see punctuation in... Read more »

A great summer memory: The definition of heat

A great summer memory: The definition of heat
The challenge came in at 8 p.m.: Blogapalooz-Hour, the monthly Chicago Now effort to write and post something in one hour on a set subject. Tonight’s topic: What is your favorite summer memory from your school years? Many of my favorite memories would involve more than an hour of combing thorough diaries (back to sixth grade) and... Read more »

'Miss Fisher Mysteries' are bonzer fun in any form

'Miss Fisher Mysteries' are bonzer fun in any form
A good friend recently introduced me to “Miss Fisher Mysteries,” both the books and the TV series. I needed the books for a while before I could follow the TV series properly, because they’re set in Melbourne, Australia, and its environs — and I have little chance to tune my ear for accents to Australian... Read more »
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A tribute to Charles Krauthammer

A tribute to Charles Krauthammer
Charles Krauthammer, whose work was syndicated by the Washington Post and carried in the Chicago Tribune, wrote a book called “Things that Matter” (New York, 2013; Crown Forum Publishers). He also wrote things that matter. On Sunday, June 10, the Tribune carried a “A note to readers,” with his column’s usual byline and portrait. I have admired... Read more »

Serious advice to 16-year-old Margaret

Serious advice to 16-year-old Margaret
The challenge came in my e-mail at 8 p.m., just as I expected, for Chicago Now’s Blogapalooza-Hour. That’s our monthly challenge to write a post in one hour. The topic is “What are three pieces of advice you would give to your 16-year-old self?” Without further ado, here they are: Keep playing your cello, even... Read more »

Thoughts after finishing 'Moby-Dick'

Thoughts after finishing 'Moby-Dick'
Whew. I’ve finished reading Herman Melville’s novel, “Moby-Dick,” and survived. It’s been only a few minutes as I start writing this. I’m exhilarated, and not just from being able to add it to my “Books Finished” list for this year. (It’s no. 14, by the way.) The whole book seemed to build up to the last... Read more »
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Another meeting in my imagination's Writers' Room: Senses and fiction

Another meeting in my imagination's Writers' Room: Senses and fiction
In the Writers’ Room  of my imagination, it’s time for another meeting of the committee  of great writers who have been “advising” me about my novel-in-progress. (If you’re not up to date with “transcripts” of previous meetings, catch up at the highlighted links.) This time, I set the agenda myself: I wanted to know about whether... Read more »