Posts Tagged 'Strunk & White'

In Defense of Standards

I had not read anything by David Foster Wallace until, following his premature death by suicide late last year, I could not open a paper or magazine without encountering another of the dozens of anguished and adulatory tributes calling him the greatest writer of his (my) generation. My curiosity piqued (the more so after learning that, like me, DFW had been a competitive tennis player), I bought his 1,000-plus-page novel Infinite Jest and a slimmer collection of essays, Consider the Lobster. (A three-pound paperback edition of the former waits patiently in my bedside stack until someone invents a contraption that will suspend and hold it open so that I can read it in bed without injuring myself. I recommend the essays to DFW novices — those who can countenance never eating lobster again and the withering criticism of Tracy Austin’s vapidness in “How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart.”)
Continue reading ‘In Defense of Standards’

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“The Unforeseeable Future”

Leafing through the “Misused Words and Expressions” section of Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style,” I paused at the entry, “The Foreseeable Future:”

A cliché and a fuzzy one. How much of the future is foreseeable? Ten minutes? Ten years? Any of it? By whom is it foreseeable? Seers? Experts? Everybody?”

Good question! As my son recently quipped when I asked him, mid-afternoon, whether he’d be home for dinner: “What, you want me to predict the future?” Continue reading ‘“The Unforeseeable Future”’


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