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  • You must include at least one positive keyword with 3 characters or more.

From du Maurier & Hitchcock to grudge-holding crows


Angry birds — and especially smart, angry birds — aren’t just the subject of my latest NYT Mag mini-column. Because my mom collected and bred parrots, they’re something I’ve spent far too much time pondering.
Did you know that crows develop grudges against individual people that they impart to their flocks? Or that African Greys are capable of labeling and counting objects and grasping the concept of zero? Or that birdsong appears to be in some sense grammatical? Often parrots use their powers for good, and not evil, of course. As far as we know.
Daphne du Maurier (above) said the idea for her avian-apocalypse novella, “The Birds,” came to her after she saw a farmer ploughing a field while seagulls dived above him, and she imagined the birds “becoming hostile and attacking.” Evidently she disapproved of Hitchcock’s also-harrowing, more famous adaptation.
Unfortunately, this BBC interview doesn’t seem to be viewable in the States these days. In it she talks about her life and work for almost 50 minutes. The clip opens at her typewriter, “the standard ‘the author at work’ establishing shot except for du Maurier’s super-strong finger-punching technique on the keys.”

"Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn't matter. I'm not sure a bad person can write a good book. If art doesn't make us better, then what on earth is it for."
Alice Walker

Random picks

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  • Keith Popely aks: On a variation on Caroline's question: what if you get a book you really don't want to reject, but it just needs more work? Is there some some sort of conditional acceptance? Or is it only reject or accept?This happens all the time. It depends on how much work, exactly, is needed. I'm assuming you're talking about more work than I would normally anticipate doing in an edit. For some companies, this would be an immediate no-go, as many editors are only allowed to buy projects that are very close to publishable. For me, this usually isn't a problem. I'm an editing editor--all...
  • Banned in Egypt, Magdy El Shafee's graphic novel Metro will be published in early 2012 by Metropolitan Books. Words Without Borders published the first 17 pages of the novel back in 2008.
  • 1.jpg, originally uploaded by GrammarBlog. Thanks for this contribution go to Caroline, who apparently “hearts” Tom GrammarBlog. How sweet.
  • Eventually, after you have written awhile, you will likely have amassed a number of vignettes, story segments, and stories. You will want to group them together to make a statement, a bigger picture. How will you do it? Below are four ideas for organizing stories.

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Fast fact about writing

Where, and by whom writing was first developed remains unknown, but scholars place the beginning of writing at 6,000