Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable

Dealing with Quarantine: Brewer’s Dictionary


The late Terry Pratchett wrote the Foreword to the 16th Edition of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. He said, It was my introduction to mythology and ancient history and a lot more, too, because Brewer’s is a serendipitous (see page 1063) book. In other words, you might not find what you are looking for, but…

Yes, you are right -- I am a moralist in disguise; it gets me into heaps of trouble when I go thrashing around in political questions.

The 110th Anniversary of Mark Twain’s Death


Samuel Langhorne Clemens, a/k/a Mark Twain, had a huge influence on WC as a young man. In particular his later works, stuff like The Mysterious Stranger, “The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg,” Letters from Earth and A Pen Warmed Up in Hell have an obvious impact on WC’s writing even today. Twain’s critical essay on James Fenimore Cooper, “Cooper’s Literary…

John McPhee, 2018 (Uncredited photo from Columbia Journal)

Notes on John McPhee


John McPhee is, by a wide margin, WC’s favorite non-fiction writer. McPhee’s last book, The Patch, and his recent essay in the New Yorker are both collections of fragments, work he started and never finished, ideas he played with and could never turn into a compete work, ideas that he never got around to. The fragments are fascinating…

John McPhee, The Patch (2019)

Book Review: The Patch, John McPhee


John MacPhee is WC’s favorite non-fiction writer, as WC has likely said too often in this blog. He’s 88 years old now, with some 36 books published (all of them still in print). WC owns all of them. They overfill a shelf. The Patch, his latest, is something of an experiment. The first third, titled…