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September 04, 2008



Couldn't agree more about Mad Men's fixation on period detail and how it distracts. This goes for verbal detail, too, like when a character watches a woman accomplish something professional and says something like, "It's like watching a dog type." I think it's exceedingly unlikely that someone would actually have to say something like that given the conditions of the time, but the show has to remind you SOMEHOW that those WERE THE CONDITIONS OF THE TIME. OK, OK, we get it.

Jack Pendarvis

Yes, I am also angry about how much better MAD MEN is than a book.

Nicholas Towasser

Dear Mr. Sarvas,

My firm, Dissident Books, will release its debut title next month: "Notes on Democracy: A New Edition." It has all of the original text by H. L. Mencken, first published in 1926, as well as an introduction and extensive annotations by Mencken scholar Marion Elizabeth Rodgers and an afterword by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Lewis.

"Notes on Democracy" is a funny, cynical and lethal attack on that Holiest of Holies: Democracy. Very Mencken. Very politically incorrect.

Please tell me if you’d like a review copy and where to send it.

Best regards,

Nicholas Towasser
Dissident Books
[email protected]

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  • The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."


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