Frederick Forsyth and the importance of silence to a writer

June 12, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, writers, writing.

Stories of how writers become writers — the origin narrative, if you will — are continually fascinating and somewhat more rare than you might think. Writers, particularly writers of fiction, enjoy telling other people’s stories, but they often think but their own stories or dull or even non-existent.  Not so with Frederick Forsyth, one of • Read More »

So, Republic, what did you do during The Troubles?

June 11, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

When The Troubles erupted in August 1969 in the six counties in Northern Ireland that Great Britain still claimed, the two sides of the conflict — the Protestants and the Catholics — were well and quickly established in the eyes of the world. Protestants were in the majority in those counties, and discrimination against Catholics, • Read More »

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: the great poetic influencer of the 19th century

June 7, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, writers, writing.

Since the early 19th century, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), has remained one of the most honored, discussed, and beloved poems in all of English literature. (Here I am excluding the feelings of most high school sophomores who when faced with reading the poem find it daunting, dreary, and dense)  • Read More »

Inoculation’s advocate, Fleming’s Casino Royale, and the first American to die in Vietnam: newsletter, June 4, 2021

June 6, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: newsletter, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,332) on Friday, June 4, 2021. In addition to all of the delights of a late but beautiful spring here in East Tennessee, we are being treated to one of Mother Nature’s rare rock concerts. It happens less often than a Bruce Springsteen show but • Read More »

American Library Association’s list of “most challenged books” for 2020

June 1, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, First Amendment, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, journalism.

Chances are, there’s a group in your community that wants to dictate what books you and your children can read. They often do this by telling public libraries what they should not put on the shelves. Most libraries resist this kind of pressure, and the American Library Association keeps track of these challenges. Here is • Read More »

The first American to die in Vietnam

May 30, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

There are, unfortunately, lots of candidates for “the first American to die in Vietnam.” Each historian of the conflict has a different name, usually from the early 1960s and some that go back to the 1950s. Historian Frederik Logevall, in his Pulitzer Prizing winning Embers of War, takes readers all the way back to 1945 • Read More »

Fleming conceives of Bond, Wesley’s strategy, and a librarian reveals all: newsletter, May 28, 2021

May 30, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,332) on Friday, May 28, 2021. Do you know a secret? This week’s newsletter has an item about a secret that “only librarians know.” It’s a fun piece, and I recommend the link. But it got me to thinking that as a long-standing member of • Read More »

The power of forgiveness

May 29, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

Anyone who is human and social has experienced the pain of being offended or hurt deeply and the inevitable sequence of anger or even hatred toward the person responsible. It seems that the best we can do in those situations is to turn it aside and cut off contact by “unfriending” that person or cutting • Read More »

A secret only librarians know

May 29, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

Will Thomas, a librarian at the Tulsa Public Library in Oklahoma, has written a delightful piece for CrimeReads.com that tells a secret only librarians know. No, I am not going to disclose it here. It’s his secret, so if you want to know, you’ll have to read the article. If you do, Thomas, author of • Read More »

John Wesley and money

May 29, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

John Wesley was a thoroughly modern, Westernized individual. He advised his followers to do three things with money. The first two were — Make all you can. — Save all you can. So far, so good. The advice is financially sound and rings responsibly in our ears. The third piece of advice might not: — • Read More »

Axis Sally, North Korea, the world’s first real-life detective, and reader reactions: newsletter, May 14, 2021

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

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,350) on Friday, May 14, 2021. The Big Apple is the common nickname for New York City, but its origins are murky. What do apples have to do with New York City? The answer, according to an essay I found recently by Maria Popov (BrainPickings.com), • Read More »

Ambrose Bierce, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, all in the same space: newsletter, May 21, 2021

May 23, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,374) on Friday, May 21, 2021. One of the great commonalities of the lives of noted authors is that a great many of them over the last two centuries began professionally in the same way: they worked as journalists and very often for newspapers. There • Read More »