First Drafts
17

Becoming Stephen King

“Critics are men who watch a battle from a high place then come down and shoot the survivors,” Ernest Hemingway once wrote, with typical pugnacity. But are the critics sometimes right? In this occasional series we'll examine the early careers of now-beloved authors to see what the critics first made of them.

Carrie, the high-school revenge fantasy that launched a thousand tampons, started out in Stephen King’s mind as a short story. He intended to place it, according to his memoir On Writing, with the magazine Cavalier. (Cavalier was a Playboy/GQ precursor that is still published today in a slightly less exalted form.) He’d been writing a lot [...]

9

Becoming Joan Didion

“Critics are men who watch a battle from a high place then come down and shoot the survivors,” Ernest Hemingway once wrote, with typical pugnacity. But are the critics sometimes right? In this occasional series we'll examine the early careers of now-beloved authors to see what the critics first made of them.

Every profile of Joan Didion begins the same way: some quasi-poetic observation of the slight figure she cuts out there in the world, seguing to a contrast with what has often been called the "steely" quality of her prose. (Most hilariously awkward of these: a 1970 Los Angeles Times profile that tries to sustain an extended metaphor [...]

7

Anthony Weiner's Times Op-Ed

I WAS the kind of New York kid who played stickball in the street, made pocket change working at the local bagel store, kissed a nurse in Times Square when they announced the end of the war, and handed out leaflets on Election Day. I loved New York. I couldn't imagine why people would live anywhere else, particularly someplace like Medford, Mass., which is right outside of Boston, home of the hated Red Sox. You ever hear people from Medford talk? That accent is insane. It just grates, right? I'm trying to think of someone you might know from Medford who talks like that, just for illustration purposes. [...]