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 […]

Hail the Burberry Trench Coat

Who doesn’t love a trench coat? It’s never out-of-style. But the story behind it is an ad creative’s (or journalist’s) dream. In 1879, Thomas Burberry, a London-based draper-turned-clothing-designer, was mainly interested in outfitting English gentlemen fond of hunting and fishing. His eureka moment was inventing gabardine, a tightly-woven fabric that was tough, waterproof, & breathable. […]

Emma Smith By the Seine

The street photographer Robert Doisneau was walking around Paris in the summer of 1948 on an assignment from Paris Match. He was looking for images reflecting the hopeful post-war mood when he saw a young woman sitting by the Seine at the Ile de la Cite typing on a manual typewriter. She turned out to […]

The Tao of Interviewing

There is so much of value in Paul McLaughlin’s excellent interviewing book, Asking the Best Questions. It is, as the cover blurb puts it, “a comprehensive interviewing handbook for journalists, podcasters, bloggers, vloggers, influencers, and anyone else who asks questions under pressure.” In his preamble, he points out the biggest weaknesses that we, as interviewers, exhibit. […]

Roy MacGregor on Co-writing/Editing Stephen Harper

Roy MacGregor’s amusing reminiscence of the time he helped Stephen Harper write his book on the history of hockey. Beware the  use of the word, “narrative.” https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-remembering-the-time-i-helped-stephen-harper-with-his-hockey-book/  

James Baldwin on Success as a Writer

“Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance.” From a 1989 anthology called The Writer’s Chapbook: A Compendium of Fact, Opinion, Wit, and Advice from the 20th Century’s Preeminent Writers, edited by Paris Review founding editor George Plimpton. […]

#octothorpe

      Most of my life, I called it the “number sign.” But it was also known as the “pound sign.” And, today, almost universally thanks to Twitter, the “hash mark” or “hash sign” or “hash tag.” The backstory isn’t very clear. Some historians think it grew out of a crudely handwritten symbol that […]