Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Real Wordsmith

There's a scene in Shattered Glass in which Marty Peretz makes all of the younger staff sit down and underline all the commas in one issue of The New Republic, or some similarly stupid and demeaning menial task. The message was, first and foremost, Peretz is a harsh taskmaster, but, secondarily, he was also quite the grammarian.

Every time my eyes glance over more than about eight letters of his blog, the experience suggests, with increasing insistence, that the scene was apocryphal. For instance, take this headline:
Maybe You’re Accustomed To Reeling When Reading John Bolton’s Opinions. I Don’t.
The resemblance to the title of Colbert's opus is uncanny, but of course, Colbert's book was a joke. Even if you're not a naturally gifted writer, how could you spend 40 years or whatever at a magazine, and still arrange a pair of sentences in such a way?

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