Emdashes—Modern Times Between the Lines

The Basics:
About Emdashes | Email us

Before it moved to The New Yorker:
Ask the Librarians

Best of Emdashes: Hit Parade
A Web Comic: The Wavy Rule


One of the pleasures of the Complete New Yorker is stumbling on a figure mentioned in one context who would later become much better known in a completely different context. Two intriguing examples from the early 1980s follow.

In a September 21, 1981, look at Hope, Arkansas (how prescient!), writer Berton Roueche, curious about the town’s (county’s? state’s?) continued reliance on laws prohibiting the consumption of alcohol, solicited the views of a local realtor. “I’m a Presbyterian,” the man said. “I believe in taking a drink…. But I don’t have to go all the way down to Texarkana unless I happen to feel like taking a drive. All I got to do is pick up that phone over there and dial a certain number. And I’m not talking about moonshine.”

The name of that realtor? Vincent W. Foster.

A November 24, 1980, TOTT by Elizabeth Hawes (in a strategy that would anticipate Harper’s) is almost entirely a reproduction of a very long list compiled by a Connecticut woman charged with catering a “light buffet supper” at the Fall Antiques Show. The list includes such entries as:

20 pounds butter
1,200 chive biscuits
42 white sailor hats
2 bushels decorative gourds
9 bales hay

…and so on. The list really must be seen in its entirety.

The name of that caterer? Martha Stewart.

—Martin Schneider


I’m delighted to see Berton Rouche’s name appear here. He’s a great writer. His “First Boat to King Island” is one of my all-time favorite New Yorker articles.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, it may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Thanks for waiting.)

2008 Webby Awards Official Honoree