This is an actual paragraph from an actualNYT article about Frazier Glenn Miller, the white supremacist terrorist who attacked the Jewish community in Kansas last weekend and murdered three people:
(bolding added for emphasis)
If I didn’t know better, I’d think this was lifted directly from The Onion. I mean, who knew it was possible to be both “affable” and a KKK lover of Hitler? Never has the word “except” loomed larger than in this Times article. New York Magazine’s analysis of the Times article is titled: “Homicidal White Supremacist Seemed Like a Totally Nice Guy Except for the Constant Talk About Killing Jews.” Read their analysis here. (The screenshot above is taken from their article.)
Since there might be some young writers reading my blog, I want to show you some similar ways you can use the word “except.” For example:
Joe is known locally as a pacifist, except for his shooting spree at the local high school last year.
Jane is a dedicated environmentalist, except for that time she and her co-workers at BP dumped millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Hank wouldn’t hurt a fly, except for his job as an exterminator.
Helen is a lifelong, passionate vegan, except that she eats meat at every meal.
As you can see, budding writers, the word “except” allows you to make all sorts of non-sensical sentences and arguments. Use it wisely!
I want to do a better job of mentioning some of the books I’m reading. I don’t have time for in-depth reviews, but will give you a taste of the book.
This weekend I read Vlad by Carlos Fuentes (Dalkey Archive, 2012). This is billed as a novel, but it’s barely 122 pages (and very small pages at that). Here’s a brief summary: Yves Navarro is a lawyer in Mexico City. He’s married with a daughter. His son has died. The elderly owner of the law firm where Navarro works asks Navarro and his wife to find a house for a friend who is moving to Mexico City from Central Europe. It turns out that this friend is Count Vlad, otherwise known as Vlad the Impaler. Vlad has decided to relocate to Mexico City, where he’ll find a fresh supply of blood. Navarro and his family are drawn into Vlad’s world, unfortunately for them. Dalkey Archive describes the novel as “a postmodern riff on the ‘vampire craze’” and an “anatomy of the Mexican bourgeoisie.” Hmmm. I’m not sure about that.
Perhaps you’ve seen the Ford commercial that’s gone viral. It’s a response to that gross Cadillac commercial that began airing during the Superbowl. [For those of you outside the USA who haven't seen the Cadillac commercial, it lampoons Europeans, particularly the French, and champions rich white American dudes who work themselves to death. You can watch it by clicking the link.]
I think Ford’s response is pretty great:
This is shockingly progressive for a car commercial. And yes, I know that corporations are evil, etc. etc., but all cars are made by corporations. It’s not yet possible to buy a handmade car on Etsy.
A lot of my readers live in Europe and don’t understand why Americans love baseball. It’s boring is what I always hear. You know what’s actually boring? Football. And by that I mean both soccer and American football. I just CANNOT, y’all.
Perhaps you have to grow up with baseball to appreciate it. I’m not a big sports fan by any means, but baseball is certainly my favorite. To me it’s more elegant and civilized and much less macho.
So anyway, to celebrate the opening of baseball season, here is a scene from my favorite baseball movie, Moneyball. This scene has it all — the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman, Brad Pitt and Chris Pratt, also known as everyone’s favorite doofus from Parks and Rec.
One thing you might not know about me is that I have the fragile constitution of an upper-class Victorian lady. If I could buy a fainting couch and smelling salts, I would. I usually seem serene and peaceful on the outside, but that’s not how I feel inside. I’ve taken to drinking Twinings’ Lemon & Ginger herbal tea to calm my nerves. I bought this box just last week:
Maybe I should find something stronger. I’m not sure what though. I don’t really drink alcohol. You’d think that someone who was raised in a religion where alcohol is strictly forbidden would have become a raging drunk as soon as the opportunity presented itself, but no. I don’t even drink coffee — I had to give up caffeine about ten years ago because it makes me anxious. See, when I said I’m a Victorian lady, I wasn’t kidding.
It might come as a surprise to you that your humble blogger is part of a group that includes Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow, but it’s true. In the wake of Gwyneth’s divorce, the Daily Fail writes:
Despite his world fame, Chris remains at heart the quintessential Englishman and has apparently never doubted where he wants to be based. The stability of the UK lifestyle at first appealed to Gwyneth, who has raised their children Apple, nine, and Moses, seven, predominantly in the English capital.
Her close friend Madonna even aped her Lady of the Manor London adventure as Mrs Guy Ritchie, but the fad seemed to die with the decade.
And sources close to the couple say that as the years passed she started to long for her native Los Angeles again, prompting the couple’s renaissance on the West Coast.
So you see, Americans living in London was a “fad” that died out with the decade. Madonna, Gwyneth and me — we’re all part of the vanguard.
In other London news, someone (ahem) is mentioned in Publishers Weekly London Bookfair Highlights — with photo. I can’t show it to you because it’s behind a paywall, but ‘Dietland’ and ‘Fight Club’ are mentioned in the same sentence, which makes me very happy.
In honor of World Poetry Day, do yourself a favor and go read some flippin’ poetry. Even better, go buy a book of poetry from your local independent bookshop, preferably a book by a living poet, since living poets need royalties. Then take your poetry book to the park, where people will see you reading it and think you have deep thoughts. In this scenario, everybody wins.
I want to share a poem, but to avoid copyright infringement, it will have to be from a dead person. One of my favorite poems is ‘Goblin Market’ by Christina Rossetti, which is a totally wild and twisted and glorious narrative poem that goes on for pages and pages. Here is a delicious taste:
She cried, “Laura,” up the garden,
“Did you miss me?
Come and kiss me.
Never mind my bruises,
Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices
Squeez’d from goblin fruits for you,
Goblin pulp and goblin dew.
Eat me, drink me, love me;
Laura, make much of me;
For your sake I have braved the glen
And had to do with goblin merchant men.”
Those of you who are unfamiliar with this poem won’t know that we’re talking about two sisters here. Ahem. Read the whole thing here.
I’m having difficulty writing and reading lately. I can’t find my words. Any words, really. This happens sometimes. I just have to ride it out.
In the meantime, I am going to post something here because some writing is better than no writing. I’ve been watching CNN’s obsessive coverage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The Daily Banter posted a snarky rant about CNN’s coverage of the plane, in which they wrote that because CNN is ”constantly updating this story they become destination viewing for any idiot who’s fascinated by it.”
When you’re in the middle of editing a novel (!), particularly one with lots of twists and turns (!), you might feel like cheating sometimes (!), but as Annie Wilkes points out, that’s never a good thing for writers to do: