Saturday, December 28, 2013

Colin Wilson: A Storied Life

Do you  or does your father ― remember when John F. Kennedy died? How about C.S. Lewis? (Hint: it was the same day.) As science fiction author Ken MacLeod observes in Aeon, Colin Wilson also had "the misfortune" of dying on the same day as more famous man  Nelson Mandela. Still for a self-taught working-class author, Wilson made some waves, beginning with his first book at age 24, The Outsider, hailed ― if only for the moment ― as Britain's answer to Sartre and Camus.

Friday, December 27, 2013

What Happens in Literature

Uniqueness is mediated by language, the Irish author Kevin Stevens reminds us in his retrospective review of Saul Bellow's Herzog.  Not simply as style, but as the medium through which ideas, images, and narrative are captured and conveyed, language is what happens in literature, as Richard Ford, an American writer, aptly puts it. It is the field of battle for literary genius and the canvas of the author's vision. "Without the brilliance of their language," Stevens observes,  it. It is the field of battle for literary genius and the canvas of the author's vision. "Without the brilliance of their language," Stevens observes, "Moby Dick's symbolism would be heavy handed, Henry V's speechmaking jingoistic, The Waste Land's imagery hollow."   

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Simple Rules for Getting Published

"The best papers are those in which complex ideas are expressed in a way that those who are less than immersed in the field can understand," Philip Bourne, editor-in-chief of PloS Computational Biology, advises in "Ten Simple Rules for Getting Published." While Bourne's guidance is intended for scientific writers, its practical relevance extends to the craft as a whole as in rule number one: "Read many papers and learn from both the good and the bad work of others." As I advise my academic writing students: Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Revise, revise, revise. All this and more can be found in Prof. Bourne's informative article.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Academic Writing Sine Qua Non: Something That Works

A scholarly editor is looking for what any editor is  something that will work, Prof. William Germano, a former editor in chief at Columbia University Press, observes in a recent interview. Noting times when pre-submission editing can prove beneficial, the Cooper Union dean cites ESL academic writers who need a "professional boost." Echoing my advice to writers I've been privileged to serve, Dean Germano counsels that it helps focus one's writing to imagine writing for erudite readers in other disciplines.