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Letters & Essays: G-I

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.

Travels with Ezra

By Dan Glover

At graduation, a few scholarly patrons flung money at me from afar, and I went to Italy to chart the constellation of Ezra Pound's allusions, icy and distant in his Cantos alone. I brought Ezra everywhere for a year, his books bundled deep in my backpack, like captives held behind the glass of a departing phaeton. I visited towns for a stanza—sometimes a line-treating the annotations of biographers and fellow travelers as chalk marks on a fence: Go here, it is very beautiful. Don't go there, it is nearly destroyed.

Letter from Greenwich Village

By Vivian Gornick

For nearly twenty years now Leonard and I have met once a week for a walk, dinner, and a movie, either in his neighborhood or mine. Except for the two hours in the movie, we hardly ever do anything else but talk. One of us is always saying, Let’s get tickets for a play, a concert, a reading, but neither of us ever seems able to ­arrange an evening in advance of the time we are to meet. The fact is, ours is the most satisfying conversation either of us has, and we can’t bear to give it up even for one week. 

Wild Flavor

By Karl Taro Greenfeld

Fang Lin woke to the usual din: the bleat of a truck reversing; the steady, metallic tattoo of a jackhammer; the whining buzz of a steel saw; the driving in of nails; the slapping down of bricks; the irregular thumping—like sneakers in a dryer—of a cement mixer.

Up and down the coast, from Shenzhen to Fujian to Shanghai to Tianjin, this was what you heard. They were building—a skyscraper, a shopping mall, a factory, a new highway, an overpass, a subway, a train station—here, there, everywhere.