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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.”

"Copy from one, it's plagiarism; copy from two, it's research. "
Wilson Mizner

Random picks

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  • Black Warrior Review has teamed up with Summer Literary Seminars for their annual contest. Judges Jayne Anne Phillips and Matthew Zapruder selected winners for the 2011 contest: Blair Bourassa, for his story “Love is Such an Old Fashioned Word,” and Lillian Bertram, for her poem “I Believe the Far Fields.”Each received tuition, airfare, and accommodations to the 2011 SLS program of their choosing
  • Dedicated to every creative mind and to the entire Human race! I was told that the pen is mightier than the sword. This much I believe.
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Fast fact about writing

Writing was developed independently in Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, and among the Maya in Central America. There are some areas where the question as to whether writing was adopted or independently developed is in doubt, as at Easter Island.