Jimmy Guterman's blog

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Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

In which one gifted journalist sizes up a giant

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photo credit: Mike Lien/The New York Times, 1971

Mike Lien/The New York Times, 1971

The effect on the business was profound, as if Chuck Berry had walked into a Glenn Miller show and started playing guitar.

— One of many, many wonderful sentences in David Carr’s remembrance of Ben Bradlee

The whole column is worth reading and probably worth memorizing, but if you’re in TL;DR mode at least read the full paragraph in which that sentence arrives:

So in 1969, [Bradlee] conjured Style, a hip, cheeky section of the newspaper that reflected the tumult of the times in a city where fashion and discourse were rived with a maddening sameness. The effect on the business was profound, as if Chuck Berry had walked into a Glenn Miller show and started playing guitar. He expanded the vernacular of newspapering, enabling real, actual writers to shed the shackles of convention and generate daily discourse that made people laugh, spill their coffee or throw The Post down in disgust.

Written by guterman

October 22, 2014 at 7:20 pm

My inequality essay for TED

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The good folks at TED asked me to write something about income inequality, a topic close to my (everyone’s?) heart.

My shortish essay asks and attempts to answer the question Why Is Inequality the Big Hot Issue Right Now?

Written by guterman

June 3, 2014 at 8:47 am

Posted in TED, writing

Revealed: the Flannery O’Connor/Lucinda Williams connection

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Lucinda Williams once chased Flannery O’Connor’s peacocks … When Williams was kindergarten age in the late ‘50s, she and her father, the poet Miller Williams, drove from Macon, Ga., to Milledgeville, Ga., to visit the great Southern Gothic writer Flannery O’Connor as invited guests. “She had a strict daily schedule when she was writing,” Williams said … “She wasn’t ready to receive guests when we got there so we sat on the porch until she finished writing. I chased her peacocks all around the yard. My father loves to tell that story.”

Lucinda Williams draws from where the spirit meets the bone (Tallahassee Democrat)

Written by guterman

May 25, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Favorite Dropbox error message of all time of the week

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dropboxI don’t enjoy it when Dropbox version control fails, but I do enjoy that doing so appends “Jimmy Guterman’s conflicted copy” to the name of the file. Instead of a technical error, it makes it seem like I’m conflicted about the copy I wrote or edited, which is sometimes often true.

Written by guterman

May 21, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Best premise for a science fiction story of all time of the week

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On Wednesday, Mr. Roth told the crowd that next week he would be getting an honorary doctorate from the Jewish Theological Seminary, “where I will be introduced by Mae West.”

Philip Roth Receives Yaddo Artist Medal — In Person (NYT)

Written by guterman

May 15, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Posted in ass-kicking, writing

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Stephen Wolfram’s Excellent Adventure

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The last freelance assignment I took before I joined Collective Next last year has just been published. It’s a profile of Stephen Wolfram for strategy+business, a magazine that was published by Booz and Company when I did the work and is now published by PwC. (Long print publishing cycles means your magazine might get bought out while your draft is in proofs.)

The idea behind the profile was to write about Wolfram not as a scientist, which has been done 10 zillion times, but as the idiosyncratic and very successful founder and CEO of an idiosyncratic and very successful company. I had a lot of room to riff on everything from Isaac Newton’s back-cover book-quote policy to what it’s like to run a company via the phone.

My only disappointment with the piece (which was edited, expertly, by Paul Michelman) is that it isn’t accompanied by this photograph, in which MacArthur Fellow and TED speaker Wolfram stands alongside former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash, who probably hasn’t read all 1,192 pages of A New Kind of Science:

Stephen 'n' Slash

Stephen ‘n’ Slash

You can read the article here.

Written by guterman

May 5, 2014 at 9:36 pm

Greatest sentence of all time of the week, A.M. Homes edition

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Regularly on this gradually-coming-back-to-life blog, weekly I hope, I’ll share the occasional sentence that thrills me. I’ll present them without comment; it’s for each reader to get what he or she gets out of those sentences without me imposing any interpretation. So …

I am my mother’s child and I am my mother’s child, I am my father’s child and I am my father’s child, and if that line is a little too much like Gertrude Stein, then I might be a little bit her child too.

— A.M. Homes, The Mistress’s Daughter

(Thanks to Jane for taking this book out of the library, reminding me how much I adore this sentence.)


Written by guterman

April 7, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Posted in sentences, writing