Category: "Americans"

What’s to be done with the present tense and its unending popularity among travel writers and editors? In 2001, in his introduction to The Best American Travel Writing, Paul Theroux was already denouncing it, calling it “precious, self-regarding, a distraction.” It had been years since Theroux had taught, so he was unaware that it is also anathema to writing teachers, who spend a good deal of their time changing verbs from past to present in stories by students who forget that they started out in present and inevitably move to the more natural, and accurate, past tense (often before subconsciously reverting to present again). Life would be so much easier for everyone – students, teachers, readers – if travel stories were told in retrospect. Travel writers, we know you survived your journey, otherwise we wouldn’t have your words about it, so don’t pretend you’re still out there. And travel editors, free your writers – and readers – from the present. Unlike the past, it has never been called ‘a foreign country.’

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans, writing

first down

11/30/17 08:01

The next time I fall down - which I haven't done in a long time - I'm going to spring back to my feet and point triumphantly toward the end zone.

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

gone shopping

11/24/17 08:50

A few weeks ago I was in the local bookstore looking for a calendar for the kitchen. I didn’t see the one I usually get – of vintage food advertisements – so I went online. It was there, but I would have to pay a shipping fee. I restrained myself from the almost effortless motion of clicking “PURCHASE.”

Last week I was in a nearby town where I went to the bookstore and found my Bon Appetit calendar. (I especially desired it because November features a woman in traditional Alsatian dress bearing a plate of choucroute.) I took it to the cashier and paid the flat rate. Then I walked out to the parking lot with my new calendar in hand – no having to wait for it to be delivered – and thought what a wonderful thing a store is. 

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

Rumpus founder Stephen Elliott said that your best writing is that which comes easiest, while, on another panel a few hours later, Sports Illustrated writer Steve Rushin noted that the worst thing you can say to a writer is, “That piece must have written itself.”

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

comedy gold

11/14/17 08:46

In my ideal TV world, Doc Martin would get a new patient: Larry David.

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

Nobel sentiments

11/06/17 09:02

I thought the Swedes were misguided last year when they announced the Nobel Prize for Literature. Now I'm reevaluating.

"How many deaths will it take till he knows, that too many people have died?"

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans