Same Name, Different Claims

Having just come back from Halifax, I once again found myself hearing from many locals that the donair originated in Halifax and it can’t be beat. For those who don’t know, it’s a sloppy pita filled with spiced-and-roasted-and-shaved beef, served with tomatoes and onions (nothing else) and, finally, slathered in a signature sauce.  When I […]

May the Facts be With You

Decades ago, when I was at journalism school, I discovered that daily newspapers weren’t fact-checked (no surprise; there was often no time), and magazines were (made sense; longer lead times meant publishers could take that extra care to ensure things were as right as possible). Therefore, I assumed, books must also be fact-checked. It was […]

Fail Better

“The writing life requires courage, patience, persistence, empathy, openness, and the ability to deal with rejection. It requires the willingness to be alone with oneself. To be gentle with oneself. To look at the world without blinders on. To observe and withstand what one sees. To be disciplined, and at the same time, take risks. […]

The Beautiful, but Doomed, Olivetti Graphika

  Much as I love Olivetti typewriters, I only recently learned about the company’s Graphika manual, first made in 1957 and produced for just under three years. While other Olivetti models made after World War II came in a variety of colours, the Graphika was only marketed with this glossy green finish. It was loosely […]

Writing That Gets Noticed

Although published last year, I only picked up journalist Estelle Erasmus’ book, “Writing That Gets Noticed,” after listening to a podcast interview with her. I wouldn’t say there’s a lot I found that was new, but I do have a few dozen books on writing so that’s not so surprising. Still, it’s a well-written primer […]

Thinking about Notebooks

  From the earliest days of news-gathering through to the digital present, the one constant has been a reporter’s notebook and a pen. Many use a steno pad or the newer Blackwing Reporters Pads (or even pricy Moleskins); I rely on the Mead Cambridge notebook, which is slightly smaller than a steno pad, slightly larger […]

R.I.P. Jon Franklin

The late Jon Franklin was one of the founders, teachers, & great practitioners of literary journalism (also known as creative nonfiction, narrative nonfiction, or longform). He won the first Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 1979 for a story called “Mrs. Kelly’s Monster,” which is a blow-by-blow of the day Dr. Thomas Ducker, a brain […]

Creative Nonfiction for 2024

Splinters: Another Kind of Love Story by Leslie Jamison (Hachette Books 2024) Leslie Jamison, the New York Times bestselling author of The Recovering, The Empathy Exams, and Make It Scream, Make It Burn, has a new memoir that explores rebuilding a life after the end of a marriage. This is fertile Jamison territory, exploring her intense […]

The Design Genius of S. Neil Fujita

One of the most influential of mid-century designer/illustrators was Sadamitsu (“S. Neil”) Fujita. Born to Japanese immigrants & raised in Hawaii, he later served in the U.S. military during WW2. After a stint with an ad agency and executing some striking covers for Fortune magazine that featured his paintings showing the influence of abstract expressionism, […]

Why You’ve Never Heard of the Emerson Typewriter

The Emerson is quite a handsome machine, wouldn’t you say? Rather sleek and modern if you were shopping for a typewriter around the second decade of the twentieth century. It was created by the prolific inventor Richard W. Uhlig (he held more than 500 patents, most of them for typewriters) and were made beginning in […]