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ThomasMayneReid_20190116_0001

Beginning the modern idea of the American West, the real target of Prohibition, and forensic science reform: newsletter, January 18, 2019

This newsletter was sent to all of the subscribers on Jim’s list (2,927) on Friday, January 11, 2019.     You may have heard this story already. When the newspaper in Portland, Maine, announced it would no longer pay freelancers to book write reviews, the most famous author among their readership — Stephen King, no […]

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Kurt Vonnegut’s rules for writing, the Rommel myth, Becky Sharp and Baseball Joe: newsletter, January 11, 2019

This newsletter was sent to all of the subscribers on Jim’s list (2,941) on Friday, January 11, 2019.     The first full week of the New Year has been notable around here (East Tennessee) for what it wasn’t: It WAS NOT “a dark and stormy night.” For the first time since just about anyone […]

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ZeldaandSoctt

Fighting poets, the public domain, the genius behind what you read as a kid, and the American cult of ignorance: newsletter, January 4, 2019

This newsletter was sent to all of the subscribers on Jim’s list (2,940) on Friday, January 4, 2019.   For me, the new year has seen the completion of at least one project, the continuation of several others, and the beginning of a new one. Here I’ll just talk about what’s been completed. Several years […]

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More literary deceptions, Artemus Ward, and JFK on open government: newsletter, Dec. 28, 2018

This newsletter was sent to all of the subscribers on Jim’s list (2,951) on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018.     This is the last newsletter of the year and time, once again, to thank all of you newsletter readers for reading and responding. You have given me so many good tips about articles and books. […]

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CharlesDickens

Back on the road, in a literary sort of way; libraries; and writing advice from Elmore Leonard: newsletter, Dec. 21, 2018

This newsletter was sent to all of the subscribers on Jim’s list (2,962) on Friday, Dec. 21, 2018.     The Christmas holiday season, Hannukah, the winter solstice, the beginning of the college football bowl season — they all collide for the next couple of weeks, provoking an increase in shopping, singing, television watching, and […]

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Joseph Priestly’s big writing idea, a winter’s read recommendation, and radio drama from the BBC: newsletter, Dec. 7, 2018

This newsletter was sent to all of the subscribers on Jim’s list (2,977) on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018.     In light of the reduction of our beehives, which I reported last week, I have come across a couple of substantial articles about bees and insects in this environment. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance […]

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The father of modern caricature, bitterness among literary lights, and a view of personal technology: newsletter, Nov. 30, 2018

This newsletter was sent to all of the subscribers on Jim’s list (2,984) on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018.     The theme of writing — good writing, I hope — permeates all of my newsletters, but this week you may notice another: caricature. I have tried this art form from time to time with varying degrees […]

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MurielSpark2_20181122_0002

A writer who didn’t want to be edited, the ‘real’ Moriarty, and your good words: newsletter, Nov. 23, 2018

  Thanks for the many emails about the words that we use and the ones we don’t hear enough. This week’s word, of course, is gratitude, in line with the Thanksgiving holiday that Americans have celebrated this week. All of us have much to be thankful for. I do my best to remind myself of that […]

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LittleLordFauntleroy

Ring Lardner, the Grand Review, and a book illustrator who had to keep apologizing; newsletter Nov. 16, 2018

 This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,014) on November 16, 2018 Oxford Dictionaries, I understand, has chosen the 2018 International Word of the Year: toxic. The choice, according to those who choose these things, reflects the general “ethos, mood or preoccupation” of the year as well as its widespread use as […]

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A legacy that began with veterans, a giant in the land of Sherlock, and GKC on what makes a good detective story: newsletter, Nov. 9, 2018

 This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,020) on November 9, 2018 My reading and browsing bring me into contact with so many good stories, unknown (to me) items, and interesting people that I don’t have time to write about them all (and to test your patience and indulgence) in this newsletter. […]

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The predecessor to Austen, Eliot, and the Brontes; Bill Mauldin; and why bees exist: newsletter, Nov. 2, 2018

 This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (3) on October 19, 2018 About veterans: Someone put it to me this way: No matter what you ended up doing, if you were in the military service, at some point you pledged to give everything you had to your country, even if that meant […]

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Webster, Chesterton, a World War II hero, and a clock that hasn’t quit for 600 years: newsletter, Oct. 26, 2018

 This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,045) on October 19, 2018 This week you will meet a couple of “colossal geniuses,” one from the 19th century and the other from the 20th. You probably know of these guys: Noah Webster and G.K. Chesterton. I’ll admit I had heard of both, but I never knew much about either. […]

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RayBradbury

The bees in October, Ray Bradbury, Walter Isaacson, and the Eugenics Crusade: newsletter, October 19, 2018

 This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,060) on October 19, 2018 The bees, I am happy to report, are in good shape, So far. We opened our four hives last weekend and found that the bees in each were multitudinous and had stored up honey for the winter. That’s exactly what […]

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The teenage revolutionary, Cold War spies, Potterheads, and the writing of a sentence: newsletter, October 12, 2018

 This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,079) on October 12, 2018 The workshop on self-publishing that I conducted for the Blount County Public Library was well attended and lots of fun for me. The participants had much information and many ideas, and they were not shy about sharing it. Self-publishing (I […]

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JosephPlumbMartin

Benedict Arnold explained; Joseph Plumb Martin, pictured; and more about William Tecumseh Sherman: newsletter, October 5, 2018

 This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,091) on October 5, 2018 As I look through this week’s newsletter — as well as those of the last few weeks — I find that the items I have included seem to be getting a bit longer. That is the case this week, I’m […]

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AndersonHall

Channeling Phillip Marlowe, libraries on donkeys, and All About Agatha; newsletter, September 28, 2018

This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (x) on September 28, 2018 Prepping for a self-publishing workshop this week has pushed me over the edge on a project that has been hanging fire for several weeks now. I am finally getting around to publishing the second volume of The Writing Wright. Volume […]

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Banned books, strongly held opinions, the oldest drawing, and what libraries are about: newsletter, September 21, 2018

This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,097) on September 14, 2018 My education continues: I am learning the ins and outs of producing an audiobook. I had thought that audiobooks were beyond me, but I find that with the right process, they’re not. My first audiobook will be (I hope) Point […]

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ElizebethFriedman

America’s chief WWII codebreaker, language and dialect in Appalachia, new season for Serial; newsletter, September 14, 2018

This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (x) on August 30, 2018 At this writing, a major hurricane is about to slam into the east coast of the U.S., and predictions are that it will cost lives and do great damage. In the middle of this past week, as we were traveling […]

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FrancesHBurnett

A 19th century writer-rock star, King James’ obsession, costly commas, and the Clinton impeachment revisited: newsletter, Sept. 7, 2018

This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (x) on August 30, 2018 Too much good stuff to read, too little time. I am in the middle of an excellent novel by a well-known author at the moment, and I will tell you about it in a week or two. I’ve also started […]

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Lincoln-Douglas

Lincoln-Douglas debate, every word; the art of Beatrix Potter; future of English; newsletter, Aug. 30, 2018

This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,136) on August 30, 2018 In the past few days, we’ve noted the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein‘s birth and the 20th anniversary of the first appearance of J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter’s books (September 1, 1998). Rowling is the literary phenomenon of this generation, producing […]

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