Ocean Vuong on Curiosity

“When I’m lost in the work, I’m curious. I don’t know if curiosity is a balm, because it often gets me in trouble, but it gives me control. It becomes fuel, and it brings me out of myself and into the world, even if I’ve just been sitting at my desk and thinking about spirals, […]

The Groundbreaking Blickensderfer Electric

If you say “electric typewriter,” most people probably think of the legendary, and much admired, IBM Selectric. But, at the turn of the 20th century, when electrical transmission hadn’t even been standarized so voltages changed from town to town, the Blickensderfer Manufacturing Co. of Stamford, Conn. built the first electric typewriter. George Blickensderfer even invented […]

“Waiter, a dancer, Please!

We all know Billy Wilder from his wonderful films (Some Like It Hot; Double Indemnity; The Seven Year Itch; Sunset Boulevard; Sabrina; Witness for the Prosecution; and never forget Ace in the Hole (aka The Big Carnival) from 1951: as sharp a portrait of the seedy side of media-manipulating-the-public as I’ve ever seen. Now, a new book has been […]

Hermes Utraportables: iPads of their Era

In the early 1920s, a Swiss watch and music box manufacturer, Paillard. decided that, given its expertise in mechanical items, it would get into the booming typewriter business. The company named its typewriter subsidiary Hermes, after the Greek messenger of the gods. There were two basic kinds of typewriters: standard and portable. Standard machines were […]

Department of Corrections

Sadly, White-Out, Photoshop’s “Magic Eraser” tool, and, of course, the delete key, have stolen the common eraser’s thunder, but erasers are far from gone. Do you have pencils? Look at the end of them. Do you have mechanical pencils? Look at the end of them. (Do you use them much? Maybe not so much, but […]

Online course: The Fundamentals of Creative Nonfiction

THE FUNDAMENTALS OF CREATIVE NONFICTION Tuesday Evenings, 6:30-9 p.m. (Atlantic Time), February 22-April 12 on Zoom Do you have a goal of launching a professional career as a creative nonfiction writer? Would you just like to dabble in the genre as a part-time endeavour? Are you simply curious about what’s involved in this kind of […]

Towards Bethlehem: Joan Didion

In the article, “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” she captured the kaleidoscopic, off-kilter psychedelia of San Francisco’s hippies in the ’60s. It began: “The center was not holding.” In the title essay of her collection, The White Album (1979), she disclosed a psychological evaluation she’d had that year describing “a personality in process of deterioration,” and in […]

A Newspaper Novel

I recently finished Katherine Ashenburg’s novel, Her Turn, & highly recommend it. It has the breezy tone of chick lit but there the comparison ends. It’s beautifully crafted & much deeper & more nuanced. Liz, the journalist and single-mom protoganist, is in her 40s, seems to have it together but, as the onion skins are […]

An Influential, Unknown Typewriter

The Rapid is perhaps the most influential unknown typewriter in history. Introduced in 1888 (the company went bankrupt four years later), it was designed by British-born Bernard Granville for The Western Rapid Typewriter Company of Findlay, Ohio.  He was ahead of his time. How influential was it? The design of its type bars would be […]

James Thurber’s Typewriter

Not a lot of verifiable information is known about the early days of the typewriter. A lot wasn’t documented, especially about those who invented something that was never manufactured or died an early commercial death before Christopher Latham Sholes created an effective model and attracted the financing necessary to make it a success. One example […]