Duke Russell

PG hasn’t read a John Grisham novel for at least several years. However, he started a new Grisham book, The Guardians, and immediately came upon a lovely first sentence:

Duke Russell is not guilty of the unspeakable crimes for which he was convicted; nonetheless, he is scheduled to be executed for them in one hour and forty-four minutes.

John Grisham

Writer’s Block

One of the pieces I’m deeply proud to have written started with a paragraph that read: “This story needed an ending before it could find its first sentence. So please forgive me for delivering it ten years overdue.” That ten years was a war with writer’s block.

Cal Fussman

Libel, Slander, etc.

Slanderers are a species of creatures, so great a scandal to human nature, as scarce to deserve the name of men. They are, for the generality, a composition of the most detestable vices, price, envy, lying, hatred, uncharitableness, etc… And yet it is a lamentable truth that these wretches swarm in every town, and lurk in every village; and, actuated by these base principles, are ever busied in attacking the characters of mankind; none are too good or too great to escape the level of their envenomed dart; nor does the inefficacy of their malicious intentions in the least deter them from persevering in their villainy.

Wellins Calcott

Your tittle-tattlers, and those who listen to slander, by my good will should all be hanged — the former by their tongues, the latter by the ears.

Plautus

An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.

Proverbs 11:9

Slander is worse than cannibalism.

John Chrysostom

Just because something isn’t a lie does not mean that it isn’t deceptive. A liar knows that he is a liar, but one who speaks mere portions of truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of destruction.

Criss Jami

You can’t just slander someone, defame them, lie about them. You can’t incite people to crime. There’s all sorts of reasonable restrictions on free speech that are already codified in the British common-law system.

Jordan Peterson

The battle for Iwo Jima

There was reason to believe the battle for Iwo Jima would be even more ferocious than the others, reason to expect the Japanese defender would fight even more tenaciously.

In Japanese eyes the Sulfur Island was infinitely more precious than Tarawa, Guam, Tinian, Saipan, and the others. To the Japanese, Iwo Jima represented something more elemental: It was Japanese homeland. Sacred ground. In Shinto tradition, the island was part of the creation that burst forth from Mount Fuji at the dawn of history…. the island was part of a seamless sacred realm that had not been desecrated by an invader’s foot for four thousand years.

Easy Company and the other Marines would be attempting nothing less than the invasion of Japan.

James Bradley, Flags of Our Fathers: Heroes of Iwo Jima

You swallow hard when you discover

You swallow hard when you discover that the old coffee shop is now a chain pharmacy, that the place where you first kissed so-and-so is now a discount electronics retailer, that where you bought this very jacket is now rubble behind a blue plywood fence and a future office building. Damage has been done to your city. You say, ”It happened overnight.” But of course it didn’t. Your pizza parlor, his shoeshine stand, her hat store: when they were here, we neglected them. For all you know, the place closed down moments after the last time you walked out the door. (Ten months ago? Six years? Fifteen? You can’t remember, can you?) And there have been five stores in that spot before the travel agency. Five different neighborhoods coming and going between then and now, other people’s other cities. Or 15, 25, 100 neighborhoods. Thousands of people pass that storefront every day, each one haunting the streets of his or her own New York, not one of them seeing the same thing.

Colson Whitehead

I don’t think it would have all got me quite so down

I don’t think it would have all got me quite so down if just once in a while—just once in a while—there was at least some polite little perfunctory implication that knowledge should lead to wisdom, and that if it doesn’t, it’s just a disgusting waste of time! But there never is! You never even hear any hints dropped on a campus that wisdom is supposed to be the goal of knowledge. You hardly ever even hear the word ‘wisdom’ mentioned!

J.D. Salinger

But if you tell folks you’re a college student

But if you tell folks you’re a college student, folks are so impressed. You can be a student in anything and not have to know anything. Just say toxicology or marine biokinesis, and the person you’re talking to will change the subject to himself. If this doesn’t work, mention the neural synapses of embryonic pigeons.

Chuck Palahniuk

The writing of a novel

The writing of a novel is taking life as it already exists, not to report it but to make an object, toward the end that the finished work might contain this life inside it and offer it to the reader. The essence will not be, of course, the same thing as the raw material; it is not even of the same family of things. The novel is something that never was before and will not be again.

Eudora Welty

Each writer is born

Each writer is born with a repertory company in his head. Shakespeare has perhaps 20 players. … I have 10 or so, and that’s a lot. As you get older, you become more skillful at casting them.

Gore Vidal