Charles McGrath goes shopping for term papers to order, “completely non-plagiarized:”
Elsewhere the author proves highly adept with the “on the one hand/on the other” formula, one of the most valuable tools for a writer concerned with attaining his assigned word count, and says, for example, of Brave New World: “Many people consider this Huxley’s most important work: many others think it is his only work. This novel has been praised and condemned, vilified and glorified, a source of controversy, a subject for sermons, and required reading for many high school students and college undergraduates. This novel has had twenty-seven printings in the United States alone and will probably have twenty-seven more.”
“Nothing’s low to begin with.” Twenty-two lines from Nicholas Harp.
Joe Queenan’s bedside bookstand must be a library table: at any given moment, he’s reading two dozen books.
The closest I can come to understanding my reading habits is the possibility that I became addicted to starting books as a child because books usually take off like a house on fire but then ease up around Page 70. The Iliad kicks off with Achilles’ decision to go off and pout, denuding the narrative of its star performer, so it is understandable why a thrill-seeking kid might set it aside and take a crack at Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle. Most books written by journalists start off with two good chapters, followed by loads of padding, then regain a bit of momentum for the big roundup. This is because editors encourage writers to frontload the merchandise, jamming all the good stuff into the early chapters, the only chapters that will ever get read. I was once told that readers regularly abandon books around Page 60, vowing to get back to them later. Well, I do get back to them later. I started Lord Jim in high school and finished it when I was 52. Gratification delayed is gratification all the same.
Kee Malesky chooses not to choose:
All transliterations of Arabic will be approximations, especially for vowel sounds. The NPR Foreign Desk prefers not to enforce one particular pronouncer for “Hezbollah” at this time. Our goal with pronouncers is clarity, and I don’t think that the variations cause anyone to be confused about what the word is, so I hope listeners are not distracted.