Emdashes—Modern Times Between the Lines

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Of Gentle Soul, to Human Race a (Tad) Friend

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It’s Tad Friend’s turn on Mediabistro’s running interview feature; Julie Haire does the honors. I like this quote, among others: “Some people write by polishing each sentence as they go, like a jeweler. I tend to spend lots of time painstakingly making an outline that I realize, a dozen paragraphs in, makes no sense, and then I put my head down and type nouns and verbs and quotes in a kind of grumpy blur, hammering out an extremely rough, totally un-publishable draft that I then go over and over and over before I hand it in.” Some of his observations about research and reporting techniques sound a lot like Susan Orlean’s in the terrific recording An Evening with Ira Glass and the New Kings of Nonfiction, which is most definitely worth buying.

Hey, it looks like Friend and I might have lived in Buffalo at the same time. (He wouldn’t have been quite old enough to babysit me.) I was going to cite something about blizzards, one of which I certainly remember, but found this great pro-Buffalo-weather propaganda instead. I passed through the city recently, for the first time since my family moved away in the mid-’70s, and had dinner at a lively microbrew restaurant whose name I can’t remember, where college kids danced to a rooftop DJ; the cab driver who took me to my long-ago street (and to the zoo, and the park, and the museum—it was the kind of nostalgia joyride you see in the movies) told stories about white flight and floundering department stores as we glided past the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings and pockets of prosperity. I’m of the opinion that you should go home again, given the shortness of things.

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2008 Webby Awards Official Honoree