When editors and sponsors demanded changes to his copy, the legendary absurdist comedian and radio star Fred Allen used to reply: "Where were you bastards when the pages were blank?"
This joke is about the common misconception about what really happens between writers and editors, which is a kind of alchemical collaboration, provided that the collaborators in question are in sympathy and closely attending to the matter at hand. Granted, that doesn't happen every time, on either side, but at its best there is no hostility, and no jockeying for an advantage in this symbiosis: no ego, no performance, just an intent shared focus on making something good together for [...]
Carrie Frye: Maud! I rented Thelma & Louise a few weeks ago, and it was, weirdly, only on rewatching that I realized why every so often I get an irresistible urge to rent an aqua convertible, conscript a few female friends for the trip and just drive… south, west, wherever: it's because of Thelma & Louise! It should have been the obvious source of the daydream, but I had lost track of the full extent to which this movie had hardwired my brain. It's been 21 years since it came out—it is now old enough to walk into a bar and order a Wild Turkey straight up and a Coke [...]
Carrie Frye: Jane, so I was lazing around Saturday morning when I saw a series of ecstatic tweets from you about the amazingness of "House Of Cards." Up till then I'd only been paying dim attention to the show's release (basically, I knew it was a series released on Netflix about Washington politics that, disappointingly, did not seem to feature any secret vampires), but on your word, I tried an episode at lunch. And then, next thing I knew, "Portlandia" Battleship Galactica marathon style, it was dusk… and then it was 10 p.m. and I had no circulation left in my legs.
I'm now on episode 7 and view [...]
When my friends started having children, as much as I thought about what role I'd play in their kids' lives, it was as the sort of friend of the family who, when you're teetering through teenagerdom and your early 20s, takes you out to lunch or dinner (often arriving, fortuitously, when you're most off course and down-at-heel), gives you Rilke and Asimov and the Brontes at the junctures when they can do their most good, takes your ambitions seriously, lets you be yourself while providing some calibrating sense of what the world at large will eventually expect from your conversation, etc. I had a couple such 'aunts' myself, my mom's [...]
Do you suffer Computer Back? I do. Mine is caused by the terrible habit of hunching over the laptop while also curling my legs under the chair in a sort of corkscrewed position that is osteomuscularly nightmarish but somehow conducive to concentration. When I stand up I look like a stooped, slightly concerned turtle. Now, lots of people have Computer Back, and nearly everybody with whom I've talked about it has, at some point in the conversation, brought up the fact that Philip Roth works at a standing desk. That tidbit, you'll remember, came out in a 2000 David Remnick profile, and it apparently haunts the imagination of everyone [...]
111. Frankenstein's Monster (Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus) 110. Uriah Heep (David Copperfield) 109. Casaubon (Middlemarch) 108. Bradley Headstone (Our Mutual Friend) 107. Samuel Pickwick (Pickwick Papers) 106. Gussie Fink-Nottle (Right Ho, Jeeves) 105. Keith Talent (London Fields) 104. Jerry Cruncher (Tale of Two Cities) 103. Hercule Poirot (The Mysterious Affair at Styles) 102. Ham Peggotty (David Copperfield) 101. Thorin Oakenshield (The Hobbit) 100. Tracy Tupman (Pickwick Papers) 99. Julian Malory (Excellent Women) 98. C.J. Stryver (A Tale of Two Cities) 97. Charles Arrowby (The Sea, the Sea) 96. Dr. Watson ("A Study In Scarlet")