The young freelancer told me that her father was a college English professor. I asked if he wrote too. She said he used to, but doesn't anymore. "I buy him notebooks for his birthday," she said, "in hopes of encouraging him. And he says, 'Thanks. I'll use it for my to-do lists.'"

It made me wonder if daily contact with the greats makes it difficult to practice their profession. Most writers read the classics in school and then move on, dipping into them from time to time but not living with them day after day. We are not constantly reminded of the enormous gap between our meager efforts and works of true genius, and that forgetfulness makes it possible for us to continue.

By Thomas Swick • Category: writing

summer showers

05/26/16 08:09

I spoke with someone recently who grew up in Georgia without air-conditioning. She said that it got so hot in summer that she would take a shower  in her pajamas and then go to bed in her dripping wet pj's.

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

A story in this morning's Herald tells of the death of Zoo Miami's "beloved Komodo dragon" (three words you rarely hear strung together) who appeared on Late Night with David Letterman. "He was," the zoo's Ron Magill is quoted as saying, "just a wonderfully laid-back lizard."

By Thomas Swick • Category: hometown

big salt

05/24/16 07:27

In her Spectator restaurant reviews, Tanya Gold often doesn't mention the food until the penultimate paragraph, but it's almost always worth the wait. Writing of a London restaurant in the April 30th issue, she could have been describing half the restaurants in America: "The food is for giants who love salt."

By Thomas Swick • Category: food

A bottle of wine stood on the counter before my reading in Key West on Friday, but just in case one woman brought her own wine in a glass jar.

By Thomas Swick • Category: writers

beer savior

05/19/16 13:36

At Fresh Market this morning I came upon two young women speaking German in front of the refigerated beer case. One had her hand on a bottle of Bud Light.

"Are you from Germany?" I asked.

They told me they were, and that they were looking for an American beer.

"That's about the worst one," I told them, pointing to the Bud. Then I asked how long they were staying. They said till tomorrow. I directed them to Riverside Market, adding that they'd have the thrill of crossing a swing bridge on their way there.

Having done my good deed for the day, I'm off to Key West tomorrow, to do a reading at the new Books & Books, probably from the chapter on Key West.

By Thomas Swick • Category: hometown