You Got Style
· Pointed Takes on Style Delineated ·
November 27, 2003
· Now Thank We All Our God ·
We're all a happily diverse bunch, with a trio of medical types who speak physiology; two engineers who talk of electrical grids and blackouts; a secretary whose Finnish substitutions of what for which amuse; a soda distributor who with his wife and his two children represent the Pepsi generation; our museum-director son and his wife, an artist, who ooze local memory and imagination; a pianist son who keeps us all soundly entertained; a college student and his mom who both manage a substation of bright light hereabouts, and my wife who will once again keep everyone stylishly cheered and deliciously fed this Thanksgiving.
Of course, this is nothing like the first Thanksgiving, an original report of which I thought to share today — William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation:
So is this report, likewise, though I might feign saying I hear a knock at the door now.
Well, whoever you are, do have a Happy Thanksgiving!Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
November 22, 2003
· Roger Angell on America's Pastime "Gone South" ·
As I've noted the Mariner season around here (Birthday Baseball Triple Play shows, though, that I'm a hopeful fan still), I thought to honor Angell's piece as in fact doubly given to the stylish work of American hitting and fielding both. Indeed, as step-son to star New Yorker writer E. B. White — and as natural son of New Yorker fiction editor Katharine White — Angell understands well the struggle (and the heartbreak) of both "Gone South."
But Angell knows too, of course — at 82 — how still to recall some truly fine, northern-seasonal baseball. Yet since "[t]he easy, almost endless run of summer ball was not just over but obsolete, . . . it requires," he says, "effort to bring any part of it back, even the Mets."
As I attended that Friday-the-13th game, I would add that it was, even more profoundly, a Yankee "Camelot" day too. Immortality falls sometimes on unlucky days, of course (as I once tried to say in Cheap Tickets From Track to Field: Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda and Here, Here, Where Have You Been Now?).
I'd hope you might agree, perhaps by saying Roger Angell's name with a kind, quick, substantively stylish, Memorial Pause.Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
November 14, 2003
· Twain's Helpful Middle Marks: Colons and Semicolons ·
As I hold to such a view, I was taken by Barthelme's nicely-turned variation on an old writer's query, "How do I know what I'm going to say until I say it?" But I was also puzzled, for, in a later paragraph beginning "Style is not much a matter of choice," he paused then to ask: "Why do I avoid, as much as possible, using the semicolon? Let me be plain: the semicolon is ugly, ugly as a tick on a dog's belly. I pinch them out of my prose."
As I've lately written here, "I'm in academic Nirvana; I have died and gone to heaven!" I was fascinated. Being committeeless, as I explained, I was quite free to weigh the matter of choice and determinism with respect to what I sometimes call style's helpful "middle marks," colons and semicolons.
They are, of course, often tricky. In his fine book Writing with Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing, John Trimble suggests that they're in fact advanced: "The average college student isn't ready for semicolons," he claims, and by implication, only semi-ready for colons. His main example (one I've employed ever since Writing with Style first appeared in 1975) is from Adlai Stevenson:
Although we smile at the linkage, our pleasure comes mostly from Stevenson's semicolon. Try, in paradigmatic substitution, these other alternative linkages:
So why is Barthelme so determined, I asked myself, to pinch all semicolons out of his prose? Maybe because his dog, I answered, hasn't yet been trained to "mark" their utility.
Which raises novelist Mark Twain's famous use of the colon and semicolon together.
Your students, employees, friends, or colleagues might now value "Twain's Helpful Middle Marks." Taken together they mean, of course, "Smooth Sailing: Two Fathoms Deep."Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
November 7, 2003
· Triple Cause for Professional Celebration ·
Consider the smiling face you see here, that of the Ancient Seattle Mariner, Edgar Martinez. Though now long in the tooth, Edgar's signed a new contract with the club and will return in 2004 to smack singles, doubles, triples, and homers again. Not since Birthday-Baseball Triple Play have I had such cause for greater celebration.
Consider also my student who modeled Monday the sage advice Father Walter Ong gave me back in '84: "For every good page written, there should ten thousand read." Though I try to reduce that ratio, my student's "Fictional Books Wrote a Non-Fictional Bookworm" suggests we should perhaps keep it just that high:
Like Martinez this kid knows already the real secret of the pros, or is that of prose? All I could say was: "Now get on with your next piece."
Finally consider my extraordinary luck Wednesday: after getting my mail here, I found myself reading, on returning to my office, not some kid's 101 essay but "Committee Assignments for 2003-2004." On reaching my neighbor's door I found myself saying:
She smiled and, returning then to the novel I'd suggested two weeks ago — David Lodge's comedy, Nice Work — happily said she was nearing the place wittily featuring the very stylish American professor, Dr. Morris Zapp.
Although but distantly related, I am — don't you think? — perhaps partially feeling the power.Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Copyright © 2007 YouGotStyle.org
Unless otherwise stated, all original materials of whatever kind included in these pages, including weblog archives, are licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Now Thank We All Our God
Roger Angell on America's Pastime "Gone South"
Twain's Helpful Middle Marks: Colons and Semicolons
Triple Cause for Professional Celebration
Figures & Tropes
Grammar & Syntax