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 […]

Typing With LEGO

I can’t imagine any typewriter lover — whether you use one or just admire them, as I do — not delighting in the new LEGO product, a very elegant, and realistic-looking, typewriter. So realistic, in fact, that once the 2,079-piece model is constructed, the typebars rise when you push the keys and the carriage moves […]

Why We Read

One of the best books on nonfiction writing is by a fiction writer: Stephen King. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft is indispensable because of its economy and common sense. King is best known for writing horror, suspense, fantasy, and crime, but that’s beside the point. He has elevated whatever he does to a […]

What is Creative Nonfiction?

A friend, who is not in the journalism or publishing fields, recently asked me “what is creative nonfiction?” Since I’m part of the faculty of the University of King’s College’s MFA in Creative Nonfiction, I should know. But it can be a tricky term to define. The nonfiction part refers to telling true stories, not […]