Archives: writers

The Peterkin family, Bradbury finds his title, Vietnam Voices, and bandsaw boxes; newsletter, September 10, 2021

September 12, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, newsletter, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, September 10, 2021. The bandsaw box is something known to most woodworkers. You take a block of wood usually about the size of your hand with the fingers spread out (give or take) and a few inches deep. Then, through a series • Read More »

Ray Bradbury and his typewriter, Ian Rankin and William McIlvanney, nicknames for sports teams, and more: newsletter, September 3, 2021

September 5, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, newsletter, reporters, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, September 3, 2021. During the past few weeks, I have devoted my considerable intellectual resources to solving one of the nation’s most intractable problems. I am, of course, talking about the nicknames given to sports teams. A solution to this vexing dilemma • Read More »

Ian Rankin and William McIlvanney—together in one book

September 5, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, writers, writing.

Scottish mystery novelist Ian Rankin had admired William McIlvanney (see below) for a long time. Rankin had read all of McIlvanney’s Laidlaw series—there were only three books in that series—and had been captured by McIlvanney’s unique writing style and his point of view. Finally, early in his writing career, Rankin got to meet McIlvanney in • Read More »

Music, courage, treachery, and the spark for modern genealogy research: newsletter, August 27, 2021

August 29, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, August 27, 2021. One of the great mysteries of our lives—one that in some sense I hope we do not “solve” is the effect that music has on our intellect, our emotions, and our general well-being. No one that I know of • Read More »

Abraham Lincoln, mystery writer

August 24, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, writers, writing.

One of the things we know about Abraham Lincoln is that he could tell a good story. He was famous for that. But could he write one? He tried that once, and what he wrote was interesting, if not completely compelling. Before he was elected president in 1860, Lincoln was a lawyer in Springfield, Illinois, • Read More »

Jeeves: P. G. Wodehouse’s enduring character

August 23, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, writers.

Jeeves, the omniscient valet of P. G. Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster stories, began life in the author’s mind as a one-off character. He appeared in a 1915 story titled “Extricating Young Gussie” and was supposed to have only two lines: “Mrs. Gregson to see you, sir,” and  “Very good, sir. Which suit will you wear?”  Had • Read More »

Alex Haley’s pre-Roots success, the everlasting Jeeves, and Abe as mystery writer: newsletter, August 20, 2021

August 22, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,293) on Friday, August 20, 2021. A friend of mine who is, unfortunately, no longer with us used to express a personal theory concerning public personages. They were, he contended, cosmic clowns. Cosmic clowns, he would explain, are people that the Almighty placed on earth • Read More »

Lytton Strachey blazes a new trail in writing biography

August 16, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, writers, writing.

If you tried to read a biography during the late 19th or early 20th century, chances are it was pretty rough going and very possibly not very enlightening. Biographies during that time adhered to strict Victorian standards of propriety and subservience to the rich and famous. The good qualities and achievements of the subject were • Read More »

A new approach to biography and writing and dying in public view: newsletter, August 13, 2021

August 15, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,294) on Friday, August 13, 2021. In the three or so days during and before this section has been written, the New York Times has published the following sentences:  – Mr. Trumka’s approach did not appear to be resolving an existential crisis for the U.S. • Read More »

Mercy Otis Warren, the anonymous writer who helped spark the Revolutionary War

August 9, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

When the heavy hand of the British crown grew more onerous on the American colonists in the 1760s and early 1770s, a satirical play appeared in the Massachusetts Spy lampooning Thomas Hutchinson, the crown-appointed governor of Massachusetts. The title of the play was The Adulateur,  and one of the main characters was Rapatio, who was • Read More »

The soldier poet, the woman who helped make the Revolutionary War, and ideas for writers: newsletter, August 6, 2021

August 8, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,313) on Friday, August 6, 2021. Writers are often asked where they get their ideas on what to write about. Fiction writers probably field this question more than non-fiction writers, but the question seems to be universally on the minds of readers. Many writers like • Read More »

The second generation of American leaders: Clay, Calhoun, and Webster

August 2, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, journalism, writers, writing.

Here is something odd and overlooked about the history of the American republic. The second generation of leaders―with one notable exception―is completely devoid of any close relatives, mainly sons, of the people we consider the Founding Fathers. None of the relatives of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, or almost any others that • Read More »

The generation after independence, the Irish, and the memories of Midnight Cowboy: newsletter, July 30, 2021

August 2, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,301) on Friday, July 30, 2021. July could rightly be called Independence Month. Not only do Americans and the French celebrate their nations’ birthdays during this time, but the Irish, too, have reason to celebrate ―although few of them do. It was on July 21, • Read More »

Celebrating the French – for their revolution and ours: newsletter, July 23, 2021

July 24, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,302) on Friday, July 23, 2021. Americans, possibly because they are exhausted from their own July the Fourth celebrations, pay relatively little attention to Bastille Day, July 14. They should give it more recognition than they do if for no other reason than to honor • Read More »

Edward Gibbon: giving voice to the Enlightenment view of history (part 1)

July 22, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, journalism, writers, writing.

As a 27-year-old with scholarly ambitions and wondering what to do with his life, Edward Gibbon visited Rome on his grand tour of Europe and was struck by what he saw. The magnificent ruins seared an image and an idea into his brain. Rome had once been the most powerful political entity on earth. Now • Read More »

The ‘Specials’ at Gettysburg, more from Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, and a little learning wherever we can: newsletter, July 16, 2021

July 18, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, Civil War, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,303) on Friday, July 16, 2021.   This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,313) on Friday, July 16, 2021. More and more, the sentiment showing in mainstream news outlets is that online learning during our year of Covid was a bust • Read More »