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A collection of Ellison's stories from the mid s that only occasionally demonstrates Ellison at his absolute best, and yet his mastery of the short-story form allows his work to be powerful even when it hasn't quite achieved all his ambitions.

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For example, the opening passage of the title story, Ellison's contribution to the 50th anniversary issue of Amazing , is a devastating account of a father brought to an auto accident scene to identify the corpse of his daughter, killed in the mishap, with the interior monolog revelation that the father, wracked with grief, at least believes himself not to be in the proper situation, beyond the obvious Ellison can be seen to be challenging himself as well as the reader in most of what's collected here, whether technically can one write a genuinely engaging and cohesive set of 26 vignettes such as "From A to Z Yes, one can, particularly with wit and sharp observation, even if some are inevitably much more slight than others And the introduction is among Ellison's best polemic writing.

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Charles N. Clark had worked out the world in which the stories for the anthology were meant to be set, Pratt, H. Beam Piper and Judith Merril contributed a novella each. Martin Paperback, Anna Todd 5 Books- After Series. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman hardback 2. The Overstory by Richard Powers Paperback, 2. You may also like.

Consequently, it need not be exhaustive in its treatment of the subject. This suits Harlan quite well. He throws everything he has into the writing of a piece, rather like making a salad.

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On the other hand, he will ignore avenues of inquiry one might expect him to pursue. It simply does not please him to go down that road right now.


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Such incompleteness would be a fault in a more didactic work, but is quite permissible within the essay form. It is Thomas Macaulay, however, who perhaps best expresses a consideration which I hope you will keep in mind as you enjoy this assortment of writings reprinted from a variety of sources. Macaulay himself resisted being reprinted for this reason:.

Product Details for Sleepless Nights in the Procrustean Bed Essays by Harlan Ellison

The public judges, or ought to judge, indulgently of periodical works. They are not expected to be highly finished … The writer may blunder, he may contradict himself, he may break off in the middle of a story … All this is readily forgiven if there be a certain spirit and vivacity in his style. But as soon as he is reprinted, he challenges a comparison with all the most symmetrical and polished of human compositions.

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Tom Wolfe, perhaps, or William F. One marvels sometimes, re-reading a particularly striking passage, How did he do that? As Alexander Smith said of Montaigne and Bacon,.

Sleepless Nights in the Procrustean Bed

Not only is the thinking different, the manner of setting forth the thinking is different. We despair of reaching the thought, we despair equally of reaching the language. One important characteristic of a distinctive essay style is that it should resemble good conversation. Harlan is, of course, renowned as a conversationalist, and he is able to transfer that easy eloquence to the printed page.

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Perhaps not since Charles Lamb has an essayist employed such a rambling, conversational manner. This sometimes results in untidiness, for Harlan indulges in the delightful digressions which are common to both forms of expression, and such bypaths can lend a disjointed, patched-together quality. In this Harlan is apparently in the incomparable company of Montaigne, of whom Aldous Huxley said,.


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Free association artistically controlled—the paradoxical secret of his best essays. One damned thing after another, but in a sequence that in some almost miraculous way develops a theme and relates it to the rest of human experience.


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  4. What Killed the Dinosaurs! Another characteristic vital to a distinctive essay style is charm. This came as a surprise to me, but the information certainly bolsters my assertion that the marriage between Harlan and the essay is a happy one, since Harlan has charm in abundance.