The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I'll heart Adorno if you make me

I’d give you a list of my favourite writers, if only I knew their names. These are humble folk: the people behind Arts and Letters Daily. Do you know this site? I didn’t, until my friend Adriana linked to it from her blog. ALDaily is a crazy complete index of everything worth reading in the online Anglo world. But I don’t love it because of the articles. I love it because of the teasers. Who writes these things? And how can I reach them? I feel a fan letter coming on.

They have 25 words to hook us (i.e., get us to click on the link to any given piece.) Sometimes, they don’t even use them all. That’s how cavalierly talented these bashful no-names are.

Consider this example from the top of today’s page:

Crazy English. Li Yang’s cosmology ties the ability to speak English to personal strength – and national power... more»

It’s only 17 words long. I wasn’t sure that it was going to work for me—what did I care about Li Yang’s cosmology? It was the final two words that did it: “national power.” As soon as I read that, I had to know more»!

I believe that this technique is called “scoring the winning goal in the last minute of play.” (For those who don’t already know, there is a Montreal-wide amnesty in place today for bad sports metaphors. Go Habs go!)

Quick, all you editors, someone give me an assignment. I want a lead to write, so that I can refer back to ALDaily for a free lesson in openers.

Pictured: my new shoes for spring.


Anonymous Denis Dutton said...

Many thanks. I write the teasers for Arts & Letters Daily. I'm happy to accept your kind compliment, except to add that now and again I just lift the teaser from the subhead of the article. That's exactly what I did in the case of Crazy English -- so you'll have to find an editor at the New Yorker to thank for that one!

Denis Dutton
Arts & Letters Daily

Tue Apr 22, 04:21:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

Love A+L Daily! Read it all the time.

I see, Anne, that you've got a comment from Denis Dutton who is a hero of mine because of his articles on academic prose. It's no surprise he can craft a catchy sentence!

Tue Apr 22, 04:44:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Anne C. said...

Hey, I guess that you're not as anonymous as I thought. I could have quoted many other examples that weren't taken from the subhead. Maybe I'll have to, just to make my point. :)

Your fan,

p.s. Andrew, together you and Mr. Dutton will change the academic writing world!

Tue Apr 22, 06:02:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger ad said...

Anne - now I burn with envy! One of the editors from AL Daily posted a comment on your blog. And you have the nicest new shoes for spring.

I'm going to throw myself down some stairs...

Tue Apr 22, 11:10:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Anne C. said...

But Miss P., I owe it all to you. I don't think that I've even been so grateful for a link! It was like being given the New Yorker for the very first time.

p.s. The shoes are the equivalent of your cherry coat. I still feel too guilty to wear them. They are so clearly frivolous. I already had sandals, but.

Wed Apr 23, 06:43:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Antonios Maltezos said...

NATIONAL POWER! Great teaser, for sure. As are those BLUE SANDALS! I really like the little stars, btw. Bet they caught your eye in the store.

Wed Apr 23, 07:24:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

I see your point about Arts & Letters. Truly intriguing. One could waste a whole day on that publication. Thanks for the link, Anne...I think.

Thu Apr 24, 02:09:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger T. Lee said...

A&L Daily is now bookmarked. Thanks, Anne. I love this one:

"Diana was “a simpering Bambi narcissist,” Mother Theresa a “thieving fanatical Albanian dwarf.” Christopher Hitchens does have opinions..."

because I just read something by him and wanted to throw it across the room. Instead I promptly forgot it.

Fri Apr 25, 02:18:00 am GMT-4  

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