– Spanierman Gallery is about to open a major exhibition of the works of John Henry Twachtman, the greatest of the American impressionists. “John Twachtman (1853-1902): A
Archives for April 25, 2006
• One of the travails of writing a biography of a great artist is that you find yourself returning repeatedly to certain words and phrases–especially superlatives. The nice thing about word processing is that it’s possible to search your manuscript for repeated words. The bad thing is that if you’re not careful, you become compulsive about it.
A couple of months ago I started keeping a list of words and phrases I suspected I was using too frequently in Hotter Than That: A Life of Louis Armstrong. In the past week or two I’ve been going over the first five chapters of Hotter Than That with the proverbial fine-tooth comb, looking for redundancies and personal clichés. It occurred to me (that’s one of the latter, in case you haven’t already noticed) that it might amuse you (there’s another one) to see the list:
by now/by then
from then/now on
small wonder/no wonder
to be sure
• Writing one-sentence summaries of movies is surely one of life’s more thankless tasks (though it can be done, like everything else in life, with flair). Be that as it may, I confess to having giggled when the following précis of The Station Agent popped up on my TV screen yesterday: “Two people try to befriend an anti-social dwarf.”
That seems just a bit on the bald side, don’t you think?
The “About Last Night” e-mailbox has been discovered by art-world publicists, who are flooding it with press releases. I suppose that’s an improvement on the Viagra-type spam I used to get by the carload, but it’s still irritating.
I’m doing my very best to keep up with all the bonafide reader mail (I just answered a ton of it). If you should fail to hear back from me more or less promptly, though, that’s the reason why. Apologies.
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order–willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living.”
Annie Dillard, The Writing Life