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Scottish author Muriel Spark’s The Hanging Judge (1994) has as strong an opening to a short story as any: “The passing of sentence,” wrote one of the newspapers, “obviously tried the elderly judge. In fact, he looked as if he had seen a ghost.” This was not the only comment that drew attention to Sir Sullivan Stanley’s […]
In the past, I’ve written somewhat extensively on censorship and its many contemporary forms: the direct prohibition of words, the self-censoring by authors in autocratic societies, as well as the oversaturation of ‘glut censorship’ that drowns out conflicting discussion. Concealment, however, is something quite different. I return once again to British visual artist Cornelia Parker, […]
In Scottish author Muriel Spark’s Harper and Wilton (1953) the protagonist is approached by two Edwardian suffragettes:  The front-door bell was ringing, now. I was not at all sure I should answer it. There was no reason to expect visitors and I had been assured by the Lowthers of my complete solitude. But I opened the garden […]
In 2003, American author David Foster Wallace was assigned to write an article on the 56th Annual Maine Lobster Festival. Wallace’s article begins by outlining the festival’s size, scope, and theme of ‘Lighthouses, Laughter, and Lobster.’ Yet by the third paragraph, precision—like a lobster’s pincer—takes hold of Wallace and refuses to let go. He writes: there’s […]
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