Monthly Archives: July 2014

“It was terribly hot that summer Mr. Robertson left town, and for a long while the river seemed dead.”

What should the first sentence in a great novel do? Set the tone, establish the location and perhaps introduce the main character?  The first sentence in Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout does more than that. It gives us the dying river image, which … Continue reading

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“Our national strength matters, but the spirit which informs and controls our strength matters just as much.”

This comes from a speech by John F. Kennedy that pays tribute to Robert Frost.  He said, “When power leads men towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations.  When power narrows the areas of man’s concerns, poetry reminds him … Continue reading

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“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deep thing.”

Are poems tools? The 90 contributors to this book think so. They describe how specific poems have helped them. For example, our line this week, from the poem “Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye, was submitted by a teacher who has those words … Continue reading

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“The strangest thing about my wife’s return from the dead was how other people reacted.”

Oh, how I love an unreliable narrator! Our quote is the first sentence of the novel, and it’s clearly a flat-out lie. (The strangest thing about anyone’s return from the dead is that it happened — of course people thought … Continue reading

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“We travel, some of us, to slip through the curtain of the ordinary…”

Do you spend a large part of your day skimming through information?  I do. I believe that most writing can be successfully skimmed. An exception is the work by Pico Iyer, whose essays I savor.  He writes about travel, which he defines … Continue reading

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