Category: "writing"


06/23/17 09:06

An aphoristic stretch here means either I don't have much to write about or I have a lot to write about someplace else.

By Thomas Swick • Category: writing

not even close

06/20/17 09:58

The fashion in memoirs is for 'brutally honest.' I'm aiming for 'elegantly authentic.'

By Thomas Swick • Category: writing

the unsung genre

06/05/17 08:19

My unpublished letter to the New York Times Book Review:

In his review of Paul Theroux’s new novel “Mother Land” (May 14), Stephen King announced that, before the assignment, he had always meant to but had never gotten around to reading Theroux. Never read his classic The Great Railway Bazaar – which made the travel book in the ’80s what the memoir is today – his fresh-eyed account of traveling around the Mediterranean, his opus on the South Pacific, his books about Africa, his most recent and indignant travel book about rural poverty in the Deep South. That the most famous novelist in America had never read the greatest travel writer in America illustrates the margins in which travel writing unjustly lives. It also helps explain why Americans know so little about the world.

By Thomas Swick • Category: writing

In his review of a new book about writing in yesterday's New York Times Book Review, Jim Holt wrote: "Look, writing is hard. It's like some vile, incurable disease: There are bad days, and there are worse days. And writing well is a two-stage process: 1) write not so well; 2) fix it."

Also this weekend, the Onion ran a story with the headline: "Unemployed, miserable man still remembers teacher who gave him a love of writing."

By Thomas Swick • Category: writing

twice the pain

05/05/17 10:34

When I read years ago that James Baldwin referred to the room in which he wrote as "the torture chamber" I knew exactly what he meant. But it occurred to me, while working out this morning, that he probably never went to the gym before entering it.

By Thomas Swick • Category: writing


04/28/17 08:39

Last week I sent my Los Angeles Review of Books essay to a site that showcases pieces culled from various media outlets, and got an email back that said “Thanks for sending our way!”

 That seemed like an encouraging response, but my essay never went up on the site. The exclamation point was simply the editorial equivalent of the trophy now given to the middle school kid who loses the game.

By Thomas Swick • Category: writing