Archive for December, 2009

Can “Creative Writing” Be Taught?

December 30, 2009

     An immediate caveat:  I have become gradually aware that writing in “cursive” script,  using pencil, pen, or crayon, is now taught rather spasmodically and perhaps quite poorly in some, maybe most,  of our public schools.  If it is not taught,  it will likely never be learned.  And that may be a loss . . . . But maybe not such a great one.

On the other hand (sometimes I need more than two of these extremities),  it has often been thought and also said by poets, novelists, and so on,  that what is known as “creative writing”  can be learned, but it cannot really be taught.  Really.  Really?

I am responding here primarily to an opinion piece by Louis Menand in the June 8/15 issue of “The New Yorker” (I am still way, way behind in my reading here).  Menand,  a professor of English at Harvard and a widely published writer, is a regular and valued contributor to the magazine.  I look forward to reading each of his contributions.

In this essay Professor Menand reflects upon his own experiences attending creative writing workshops in several locales.  Among the workshop leaders and teachers he mentions are Robert Frost,  Allen Tate, John Barth, R.V. Cassill, Donald Dike, John Gardner, Richard Cortez Day, Dennis Schmitz, John Cheever, George Pierce Baker (very early: he taught Thomas Wolfe), Wilbur Schramm,  E. L. Doctorow, Kurt Vonnegut, and Paul Engle (the last usually regarded as the most important contributor to the famed program at the University of Iowa).  Menand also gives his readers a grocery list of colleges and universities with writing programs, the main contributor identified in parentheses: Brown (John Hawkes), Kentucky (Guy Davenport), Brown again (Robert Coover),  Duke (Reynolds Price),  Stanford (Wallace Stegner),  Boston U. (Leslie Epstein),  Houston (Donald Barthelme),  Syracuse (Tobias Wolff),  New York University (E. L. Doctorow),  SUNY-Albany (William Kennedy) and Florida State (Robert Olen Butler).

In part Menand’s essay is a review of Mark McGurl’s study of creative-writing programs and their effect upon American Fiction in The Program Era,  published by Harvard University.

The creative-writing program typically has followed the basic pattern of a published, perhaps even renowned, writer, offering the students in his workshop a few tidbits about what has worked in his writing (and what hasn’t) and then setting the students to writing (sometimes freely, sometimes to a particular plot or theme) and then having them read their work to each other and openly critiquing it.

Professor Menand doesn’t think much is learned by the work the students do, but quite a bit may be gained by their interaction with each other and with their professor:                 “I don’t think the workshops taught me too much about craft, but they did teach me about the making of things, not just reading things. You care about things that you make,  and that makes it easier to care about things that other people make.

. . . .  I stopped writing poetry after I graduated,  and I never published a poem–which places me with the majority of people who have taken a creative writing class.  But I’m sure that the experience of being caught up in this small and            fragile enterprise, contemporary poetry,  among other people who were caught up in it, too, affected choices I made in life long after I left college.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Interestingly perhaps:  a World War II veteran, now living in Saratoga Springs, New York,  wrote to The New Yorker in the July 20 issue telling of his riding the G.I. Bill “to exhaustion.”  James Rosenberg’s ride included studies in a brand-new creative writing program at the University of Denver, founded by Alan Swallow,  a significant critic and publisher.

Rosenberg writes that he did became a “published poet,” and he “wound up teaching playwriting [?”playwrighting” advises my Spellchecker] (also impossible) at Carnegie-Mellon’s theatre school,  where my classes were petri dishes of emotions and produced no Arthur Miller.  But I hope that my students lived as intensely for a year or two as I did at Denver.  Like Menand,  I would not trade it for anything.”

I have tried my hand at “creative writing” on occasion and did impose some tasks upon students I taught late in my career in a class in “Lyric Poetry of the Renaissance.”  I have created a pair of very successful sonnet recitals,  sponsored by the UNCP “Friends of the Library” and the North Carolina Humanities Council.  In my college-teaching career I advised students in creating and printing a literary magazine.

But I have also learned that my talents are narrow and my creative impulses ambitious but impulsive and often quite disjointed.  This no longer depresses me, for I know I can try other schemes, other projects.  Furthermore,  like Professors Menand and Rosenberg,  as to what I have tried and done, whether well or ill,  I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

RJR

Appeal From Founder of “Wikipedia”

December 29, 2009

12/29/2009

Mr. Wales’ opinion speaks for itself.  I know that I consult this “People’s Encyclopedia” frequently, and so do you.  I think we ought to help Mr. Wales if or as we can.

RJR

An appeal from Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales

Today, I am asking you to make a donation to support Wikipedia.I started Wikipedia in 2001, and over the past eight years, I’ve been amazed and humbled to see hundreds of thousands of volunteers join with me to build the largest encyclopedia in human history.

Wikipedia isn’t a commercial website. It’s a community creation, entirely written and funded by people like you. More than 340 million people use Wikipedia every month – almost a third of the Internet-connected world. You are part of our community.

I believe in us. I believe that Wikipedia keeps getting better. That’s the whole idea. One person writes something, somebody improves it a little, and it keeps getting better, over time. If you find it useful today, imagine how much we can achieve together in 5, 10, 20 years.

Wikipedia is about the power of people like us to do extraordinary things. People like us write Wikipedia, one word at a time. People like us fund it. It’s proof of our collective potential to change the world.

We need to protect the space where this important work happens. We need to protect Wikipedia. We want to keep it free of charge and free of advertising. We want to keep it open – you can use the information in Wikipedia any way you want. We want to keep it growing – spreading knowledge everywhere, and inviting participation from everyone.

The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organization I created in 2003 to operate, grow, nurture, and protect Wikipedia. For ten million US dollars a year and with a staff of fewer than 35 people, it runs the fifth most-read website in the entire world. I’m asking for your help so we can continue our work.

Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet has free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That’s where we’re headed. And with your help, we will get there.

Thank you for using Wikipedia. You’re part of this story: please make a donation today.

Jimmy Wales

Founder, Wikipedia

Dictionaries and My Dictionaries

December 25, 2009

In my last posting,  I brought forth (that is, gave birth to, sort of) some ideas and concerns about literacy.

Let me begin this posting by pasting and copying below a reply I sent to Macky Myers (you can read his comments in the previous series of comments, his “take” on the subject of literacy):

 

Dear Blog-Responder Myers,

So glad you wrote. E.D. Hirsch,Joseph F. Kett (distinguished
historian) and James Trefil (distinguished scientist),  all
of the University of Virginia, have done marvelous work with
the "Cultural Literacy" movement, especially in public education
.

Since I was just in the middle of drafting a posting on the role
 of dictionaries in my life, you came along and prodded me, in
effect, to pull from my workspace shelving my copy of the Second
Edition, Revised and Updated, of"The Dictionary of Cultural
Literacy" acquired fifteen years ago, so it is somewhat
outdated, but a delight to both consult and to browse around in.

Most of the work in creating of dictionaries for particular age
groups and to convince public schools in Virginia and elsewhere
 to adopt a "cultural literacy curriculum"  came later. I used
to get the newsletter from the HQ of this effort but somehow lost contact.
Perhaps it is still being published.

I have been an early and an avid convert to the value of cultural
literacy as both subject matter and as a goal for all citizens
who are seeking to improve their knowledge.  I actually sought
a significant grant from the Department of Education at one point
 to set up an evaluation and promotion instrument in the local
community schools.  At one point I talked to Ed Hirsch by phone
 hoping I could lure him to come to our campus (now the University
 of North Carolina at Pembroke) for a presentation.

Thanks again,  and I am curious: are you living and working in
the United Kingdom or have you just kept using an account
headquartered there?

Best wishes,

RJR

So, now you know: “The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy” is one of the four dictionaries that have interested and informed me the most.  You must pay a visit to Barnes & Noble or another large volume merchandiser and seek out the dictionaries that you yourself might like to have or that could be very helpful to your children,  even if their school has not yet adopted a “cultural literacy” curriculum.  The “adult” model I have covers 23 topics from the Bible to Technology, including such interesting categories as Proverbs, Idioms, Conventions of Written English,  World Geography,  American Geography, Business and Economics, and Medicine and Health.
For an American college student an English dictionary is an essential tool.  There are four or five excellent collegiate dictionaries being published today.  A few years back, when I was still a fixture (I almost wrote “fissure”–no doubt a Freudian slip?) in the Composition and Literature and Language classrooms at UNC-Pembroke,  I began to feel so strongly about the need for a good dictionary that I wrote a letter to “Ann Landers” or maybe it was “Dear Abby”–never could tell these girls apart–recommending that those offering gifts to their high school graduates should be sure that a good college dictionary was on the list.

Dictionaries have been in many ways and at various times an important part of both my scholarly and my personal life.  (How, for example, can you play a legitimate game of “Scrabble” without one of these at hand?  We use a somewhat outdated Random House College Dictionary for that purpose.)

So:  after the “Dictionary of Cultural Literacy” and all tis manifestations,  I would recommend that every household have at hand a contemporary “College/Collegiate Dictionary.”

Most of you, if not all,  know or have some familiarity with, at least one “English/Foreign Language” Dictionary (there are a great many dictionaries available which offer an English word list and another language’s word list: both are cross-referenced).  One that I occasionally need is a French-English/English-French Dictionary.  Although I took three years of French in college, taught French for several years in high school,  and completed further studies in an NDEA Institute in French,  I disposed long ago of my quite outdated French-English/English-French dictionary and now often find that (even though I have “Babylon” installed on my computer) I need such at hand.

I also think that having a Latin-English/English-Latin dictionary would be a good thing.  How else could I read and understand “Winnie ille Pooh,” the Latin version of the the famous classic?

What we do have at hand here at home is an “Oxford Duden German Minidictionary,” 1997 printing.  “Duden” is a key name for quality dictionaries about and in German.  I studied German in college for three semesters,  lived for two years in Germany and have a German wife, so I am pretty adept at the everyday discourse. But “High German” grammar and usage I find very challenging.                                                      While the Mini-Duden is only 3″ by 4″ by 1.5 “in external size, it packs 700 pages into its dual lexicons and also provides a list of phonemes (with 60, German has far more than English)  and a pronunciation key, along with a daunting six pages of “Irregular Verbs,” perhaps the most difficult aspect of this language to master,  Ja, diese Dinge machen mich wie ein Dummkopf fuehlen! It is a very handy reference, along with Brigitte, when I wish to write a note to my Schwiegermutter,  wie wohnt in Nuremberg.

I also cherish having two other impressive dictionaries in my home library: (1) A “Petit Larousse” (believe me, “Petit” is a misnomer if there ever was one) that was “Offert Par Le Governement Francais A Raymond Rundus” and everyone else who was accepted into the NDEA Institute in French at the University of Kansas City in 1962.  The “Larousse” dictionaries are probably the best (aside from the OED and all its kinfolk),  the most complete and well-edited dictionaries in the world.  An “encyclopedic dictionary,  the “Petit Larousse” is over 1800 pages; it features such attractions as the flags of the world and highly detailed maps of the main countries abutting France.  The atlas for France is displayed in eight color pages plus one showing each governmental district (departement) in the country.  A special interesting feature (France has “always” been renowned for its superior modishness,  n’est-ce pas?) is the elegant display in the back section of French dress across the ages.

(2)  When I attended the Modern Language Association’s annual convention in late 1973 (we were searching for and interviewing possible additions to our staff),  I filled out an entry form at the kiosk which was promoting the quite new “American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language,”  especially, in this venue, the Collegiate model.

I was pleased and surprised to find, via a letter in mid-January from Houghton-Mifflin publishers, that I had won a very handsome edition of the main AHD dictionary.  As the representative from the Dictionary Division of the publishing company observed,  “You have won a copy of the Founders Edition of the American Heritage Dictionary.  The Founders is a special edition bound in top-grain red cowhide, with gold edges and stamping, accompanied by an attractive slip-case.”

The dictionary arrives a few days later, and I have cherished having it, though I do not consider it something that I would want to use on a daily basis.  It is not a volume for active usage,  but it is certainly a handsome critter.

What about your experience(s) with a dictionary or with dictionaries?  There’s room here for more!

All the best,

RJR

Is The Word Getting Out?

December 22, 2009

Greetings,  and a Merry Christmas,  a Happy Hanukkah,  a Happy Holiday wish courtesy of the Judeo-Christian coalition.   I believe it was Rodney Dangerfield who said,  “I decided not to be an atheist. They don’t get any holidays.”

My title reflects a continuation, maybe a sidebar,  of the topic I wrote about in my most recent column in “The Sandspur” (issue of December 16):  the importance of imparting literacy to our children, who are exposed now to hundreds of thousands of words and images daily and yet who may not be getting the guidance needed to become truly literate (well-read and able to communicate clearly in speaking and writing).

After I wrote that,  we headed to “BooksAMillion” to find some books to send to our granddaughter for Christmas.  She will be five in early January.  We think it very important that, in addition to watching her kids’ shows on TV and on DVDs, she also learn to appreciate the lasting values found in print.  So we ended up buying four books that we think she will enjoy:  (1)  The Classic Illustrated version of “Alice in Wonderland,” (2) the Classic Illustrated version of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book,”  (3)  A “Christmas Carol Singalong” with four carols and ample and colorful illustrations,  (4) and “Hello Kitty! Hello USA!” a very fetching story of Hello Kitty’s travels through the 50 states and the District of Columbia.  “Hello Kitty” was the primary theme her mother and father chose for her well before she was born.

We will be looking to hearing from her mother and father as to which of these books she particularly enjoyed and why.

What books have you found that your children or grandchildren especially enjoyed? Or maybe you have a story to share about a child’s special involvement with a book or a story.  Feel free to use some of this space.  I believe it is, in effect, infinite.

In my next posting I want to write a bit about the dictionaries I try to keep handy or simply cherish having.

RJR

Blogger Breakfast Soon!

December 14, 2009

 A quick prefatory note:  I’d like, especially now that the movie “Invictus” has been playing in local cinemas for a while, to have more comments about W.E. Henley’s poem in relation to Nelson Mandela’s long exile and imprisonment as shown in the film.  All, of course, are welcome, though unsavory and untoward comments are implicitly verboten.  What Gene Smith mentions in his comments on my previous blog posting needs more attention!

Good for Tammy S. for prodding me to suggest that we breakfast fanciers get together (whoever wants and for however long and with whatever menu:  some only choose liquids) this coming Friday (the 18th) for another boasting, basting and basking.  So stay tuned for more specifics nlt Wednesday.

RJR

Opening Nationwide Today: “Invictus”

December 11, 2009

Quite a bit of excitement has been already engendered by the imminent arrival in movie theaters of Clint Eastwood’s “Invictus,”  a story of the South African civil rights protester and eventual first democratically-elected President of that country Nelson Mandela,  whom Morgan Freeman portrays.  Matt Damon is also one of the stars.

No one’s said or written it yet that I’ve run across, but it would appear that this film biography may well be compared to Richard Attenborough’s 1982 masterpiece,  “Gandhi,” with Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley in the title role.  This film was widely praised and won a total of nine “Oscars.*”

The “Nobel Peace Prize” was awarded to Nelson Mandela in 1993 and would doubtless have been awarded to Gandhi had the Committee elected not to give individual awards in the WWII era and its immediate aftermath.  Together they can be affirmed as the two outstanding global pacifists of the past century.  Without Gandhi as an inspiration,  one would doubt that Martin Luther King, Jr., would have been so patient and resolute in fighting for equality for all Americans, but most especially for African-Americans.  “Passive resistance” proved its power in the lives of all three men,   two of whom were tragically taken from us by assassins.

Why was “Invictus” chosen as a title for this new film? Read the poem by William Ernest Henley below first (if you are not already familiar with it):

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Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

It matters not that mass murderer and American terrorist Timothy McVeigh recited this poem as he approached his execution.  He was just not into the theme of “passive resistance” in his personal, bull-headed philosophy.  He ought to have read more about and by Nelson Mandela,   more about and by Mohandas K. Gandhi.

Until you’ve seen the Eastwood version of Nelson Mandela’s life story (based largely upon Mr. Mandela’s autobiography,  “Long Walk to Freedom,”  published in 1993) and learned more about his own account of how much the poem solaced him in his long confinement,  until that time you (and I) will not be able to form a complete judgment.

And it would be helpful also to review how Henley was affected by his relatively short, but pain-filled (he had an arduous struggle with tuberculosis in the bones of his legs) life.  And to learn how his robust optimism made his life at least bearable, if not fulfilled.

As a grace note:  there is a music setting for “Invictus” that I heard sung by a schoolmate many years ago.  Do any bloggers out there know more about this?

RJR

Santa’s Reindeer: Nicely Named?

December 8, 2009

Sometime not long before Christmas in 1949,  a song by cowboy movie hero Gene Autry began to be heard frequently on radios: in those days nearly all in cars or in houses.  That song, of course, was “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

I even acquired a two-page cartoonish version of the song as a “premium” being given out to kids at the “Monkey Ward” store in Marysville,  Kansas.  (Had I kept that souvenir,  it likely would be worth some money today!)

That song made listeners quite sympathetic toward Rudolph because he was the outcast,  the kid not chosen until last, if ever.  Those naughty other reindeer never let him in on “any reindeer games.”

Rudolph did,  of course,  become a hero,  a “contender and no longer a pretender,  a real “Somebody” loved by all of his peer deer,  instead of a glum and alienated, lonesome loser, who might some day visit a pawn shop and then seek some terrible vengeance and wreak great woe in his workplace.

I liked to hear Ol’ Gene recite in the first stanza the names of the flying reindeer: “Dancer, and Dasher, and Prancer, and Vixen,  Comet, and Cupid, and Donner and Blitzen.”  But,  oh, no!   I have garbled up one of the names!  That deer would probably never answered the call to the runway!

So pointed out a recent reader to the Editors of “The Fayetteville Observer”  when she complained that the correct name for one member working in the sleigh galley was supposed to be “Donder” and not “Donner.”

Absolutely correct: using”Donner” might bring up memories of the ill-fated party of settlers that ended up snowbound in Oregon;  starving,  some became cannibals.   One of them,  a grandmother, had already died, and was buried in a prairie grave far from her friends and kin,  as the Donner Party stopped for a rest in the better days of 1846 at Alcove Spring,  near my home town.

Here is another key to remembering the correct name: the reason why “Donder” is paired with “Blitzen” is that both names are derived from the German phrase “Donder und Blitzen,”  which means “Thunder and Lightning.”   But, I know, you already knew that. . . .

RJR

Has the “Apostrophe” Lost Its Mojo?

December 7, 2009

Hope all of you checking this out are well and enjoying/have enjoyed a nice day.

I’m wanting to bring forth a take on something of which you may not be aware:  the uses of “apostrophe” as a term in rhetoric (one of the devices of expression in speaking and writing language).

As a punctuation mark,   the word (we well know) refers to a special kind of punctuation mark:  the symbol below the ” on the keyboard of the word processor that you are using when you send your comments in to this “Blog.”  Don’t know what I’m talkin’ ’bout? It’ll come to you when y’all realize that I’ve just slipped in seven of them in this sentence and the one previous to it.

The word “apostrophe” is of Greek origin and means in that language something like “turn aside” or “turn away.” We’ve just now shown how it works to mark a contraction in our English language.

But, it also has a very different sense:  as a rhetorical device used (not so much anymore) by orators and poets in which the speaker directly addresses an entity not present:  most commonly,  a dead or absent person,  an abstraction or some creation imagined, or something in nature.

One illustration here for each kind of apostrophe:  (1)  a dead or absent person–The opening line of Wordsworth’s sonnet “London, 1802”>>> “Milton!  thou shouldst be living at this hour”  (2)  an abstraction or something created by the imagination–the second stanza of Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn”>>> “Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard/Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;/Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,/Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone” (3) something in nature–John Keats’s great poem “To Autumn”>>> “Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?/Sometime whoever seeks abroad may find/Thee sitting careless on a granary floor”

While the rhetorical apostrophe (like the “pathetic fallacy”) is seldom used today,  except perhaps in a spoofing or lampoon kind of way,  it was very popular in English and American poetry,  especially when used by the “Romantic” and “Transcendental” lyricists of the nineteenth century:  Such as Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley,  William Wordsworth,  Samuel Taylor Coleridge,  John Keats,  Alfred, Lord Tennyson,  John Greenleaf Whittier, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,  Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Cullen Bryant,  Walt  Whitman, and others.

The most powerful use of the device in the Christian Bible is likely found in two questions from I Corinthians 15: 55:  “O death, where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory?”

If you know some good contemporary examples of the apostrophe as a rhetorical device,  I (and others) would doubtless be pleased to know of them.

RJR

Roll On, Thou Mighty Woods, Roll On

December 7, 2009

Just a suggestion:

Read my original posting,  “When Will Tiger Come Out Of the Woods?” and the several comments following,  two of which are mine.

Then join forces and unite to clean up the debris that is fouling and muddling up what we still continue to call “civilization” and “America” and “Christianity.”

RJR

When Will Tiger Come Out of the Woods?

December 1, 2009

Atrocious indeed, both of them:  the “outing” of an American CIA agent in the summer of 2003 by Columnist Robert Novak of The Washington Post and now the  sneak attack on Tiger Woods by another Washington Post staffer,  Sally Jenkins (headlined under the rubric “Don’t expect any answers from Mr. Privacy”).   Pretending to be the persona of Mr. Woods,  Jenkins,  masked in a vampire’s cloak, lambastes a great hero of our time for his refusal to reveal the circumstances that led, in his own exclusive Orlando neighborhood very early last Friday morning, to a puzzling accident and the suffering of considerable facial injuries. (He was unconscious for some time.)

A student interviewed by UNCP feature writer Justin Walker for the University Newswire  blamed the Bush Presidential Administration for having unveiled Valerie Plame Wilson as a “covert” CIA agent and thus having endangered her and all who knew or worked with her.  This student and others seem to neglect the fact that it was Novak who wrote the story,  no matter what his source or sources were.  A “Deep Throat” mentalityensued and created a maelstrom.  See All the President’s Men,  a see-all, tell-all book by two distinguished Washington Post staffers and made into an excellent movie.

Valerie Plame Wilson’s painful response to this terrible blemish on her life and memory caused her,  according to UNCP reporter Justin Walker to endure a “deep emotional spiral . . . . Her family life suffered, including relationships with friends, co-workers and husband.”  (It has been well-established that she was the collateral victim of a vendetta that was directed at her husband,  Joseph Wilson.)

And now the media have their knickers in knots because Mr. Woods refuses to reveal the true circumstances that led to his erratic driving.  It ought probably be enough if he turns the keys to the Escalade over to Elin for a couple of weeks or so.

Again it appears as if the “drive-by media” (as a certain “talk show host” terms our present-day “news” outlets) no longer have the integrity or courage to defend or act as a shield to one of the primary tripods upon which our privileges as American citizens are based:  “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Ms. Jenkins appears to resent Tiger Woods’ defense of his and his family’s privacy,  something he has been zealous in protecting ever since he burst on the scene to become the world’s greatest golfer and perhaps, one day,  the greatest golfer of all time.

Valerie Plame Wilson,  in ending her speech at UNCP in the Distinguished Speakers Series, two years after the publication of her political and personal memoir  (My Life As a Spy:  My Betrayal By the White House),  quoted this observation by Thomas Jefferson:  “When the people fear their government,  there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”

I know there are celebrities and wanna-be celebrities who seek attention and perhaps even adulation from their admirers.  They may also,  though,  as we have too frequently seen,  become victimized by an unhealthy, dangerous fixation.  Such a person, trying to bolster a sick, frail ego  can well end up  attacking, perhaps even killing, the object or objects of his or her fixation.

Sally Jenkins,  in my not-so-humble opinion,  does not deserve to even wash Tiger Woods’ Nike Tour golf ball.  Her journalistic venture today is an insult to such historical writers and columnists as Samuel Johnson,  Daniel Defoe,  Henry Fielding, Joseph Addison,  Richard Steele, Walt Whitman,  Mark Twain, Theodore Dreiser,  Ernest Hemingway,  John Dos Passos,   E.B. White,  James Thurber, A. J. Liebling, Joseph Mitchell,  and countless others well before our own time.  Her feature is a column filled with bombastic buffoonery,  a pretentious and portentous representation of one of the great human beings of our time, a disgusting piece of malicious slime.

After reading it,  I felt like the author who read a pusillanimous review of his latest book.  He wrote this message back to the reviewer:  “I am sitting in the smallest room in my house.  I have your review before me.  In a few minutes it will be behind me.”

RJR