Advertisement

Letters & Essays: 2010s

Letters & Essays of the Day

Revising One Sentence

By Lydia Davis

This morning I walk around the house feeling happy and I’m struck by what I’m doing. Actually, I’m struck by only one gesture I happen to make, but that one gesture inspires me to write a sentence describing what I have just been doing. This is usually an effective approach in writing because one striking element can be the culmination of a series of more ordinary elements that would not stand on their own.

Unnamed Caves

By John Jeremiah Sullivan

Over the past few decades, in Tennes­see, archaeologists have unearthed an elab­orate cave-art tradition thousands of years old. The pictures are found in dark-zone sites—places where the Native American people who made the artwork did so at personal risk, crawling meters or, in some cases, miles under­ground with cane torches—as opposed to sites in the “twilight zone,” speleologists’ jargon for the stretch, just ­beyond the entry chamber, which is ­exposed to diffuse sunlight.

Thomas Guinzburg

By Peter Matthiessen

When Tom Guinzburg became president of The Viking Press in 1961, its editors and other staff were, of course, people his father had hired. But Tom rapidly put his own personal stamp on Viking. No books were signed up that he didn’t personally approve, no advances against earnings offered that he didn’t authorize, no publicity plans and marketing arrangements plotted without his knowledge. And he made the often humdrum procedures quite dashing, being dashing himself.