Archives - July 2009

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Jul. 31



The Literary Pedophile

     "Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.  My sin, my soul.  Lo-lee-ta:  the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth.  Lo.  Lee.  Ta."

     That has to be the best opening paragraph of any novel ever written. I think it even beats Dickens's famous best of times, worst of times opening.  Nabokov was a literary master.  What an accomplishment to take the story of the forty-year-old pedophile Humbert Humbert who falls in love with the twelve-year-old nymphet Dolores Haze and turn it into a poetic literary masterpiece.  It's a contradiction of terms that still astonishes me every time I read it. 

     Like The Great Gatsby, this is a book I pick up every year.  However, I only read the first ...

Jul. 30

The Great Gatsby


A Favorite Novel

     F. Scott Fitzgerald was a profligate soul, but, my oh my, could he write.  I have received more pleasure from reading and re-reading The Great Gatsby than I have from scores of other novels that have passed my way.  Several writers make a point of reading it at least once a year.  I do the same -- just to keep me in my proper place and to remind myself what good writing really is.  Sometimes I open it up and just read random passages.  Fitzgerald's turns of phrase and sometimes just the individual words he chooses are magical.  "There was the boom of a bass drum, and the voice of the orchestra leader rang out suddenly above the echolalia of the garden."  Are you kidding me?  How many times have you seen the word "echolalia" in print.  It has a ...

Jul. 29

The Best Writing Advice


On Writing

     I have never been a big Stephen King fan.  Not that he's a bad writer -- I'm just not into the horror genre.  However, he wrote one of the best books on the art of writing that I have ever read, On Writing.  He tells the story of the development of his own career, which is quirky and interesting, but he also gives great advice to writers.  This is the one trick I learned that has stuck with me over the years:  After you finish your rough draft and are beginning to revise, work from top to bottom and take out the majority of your adverbs. That's right - the adverbs.  If you have to use that particular part of speech to show your reader how your character is reacting, then you haven't done a good job explaining your character.  ...

Jul. 28

Edna St. Vincent Millay


The Poet

   I consider Edna St. Vincent Millay one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century. She was first published as a teenager -- quite a feat for a poet.  Her Renascence was about a spiritual rebirth.  The first stanza:


     All I could see from where I stood

     Was three long mountains and a wood;

     I turned and looked another way,

     And saw three islands in a bay.

     So with my eyes I traced the line

     Of the horizon, thin and fine,

     Straight around til I was come

     Back to where I'd started from;

     And all I saw from where I stood

     Was three long mountains and a wood.


     Millay was quite the rebel, a woman far ahead of her time.  She traveled where she wanted to travel, said what she wanted to say ...

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Listening to the whispering pines

Hello. My name is Donna Cozart Pauley. Welcome to The Whispering Pines, a literary blog dedicated to my love of the written word. It is an eclectic collage of my life -- from my poems to my stories to my family to my pets to my causes to my photographs to my recipes to my love of teaching to my favorite literature. Please feel free to comment. Words are only important if they are heard or read. Just like those soundless trees falling in the forest.

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