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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


paperback | Kindle | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


paperback | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Darnton, John (ed.): Writers on Writing

  Amazon  

3.5 stars

Writers on Writing is a mixed bag of essays, edited by journalist John Darnton, that were originally published in the New York Times. The authors of the forty-some pieces that comprise the volume are all celebrated writers (though I confess I was not familiar with all their bylines), a good many of them household names: Kurt Vonnegut and Alice Hoffman and John Updike and Scott Turow and so on. The authors were charged with writing about, well, writing, and they manage to do so, surprisingly enough, without ever stepping on one another's subject matter: each essayist approaches the topic in a manner peculiar to themselves.

Some of the essays, those that had the least to do with the task of writing, left me cold: it is a shame that the collection, which is organized alphabetically by author, begins with a particularly weak contribution. But there are far more worthy essays than not in this volume. Among the most interesting of the lot are Kent Haruf's piece on the peculiar way that some writers, including himself, write, and David Leavitt's fascinating reminiscence of his early insistence on order in the unlikeliest of places:

"I didn't like it if there were more songs on one side [of a record] than the other; the songs had to be at least three minutes long, with a title that appeared in neither the first nor the last line. (If the title appeared in both the first and the last line, I would remove the offending album from my shelf.)"

Writing, Leavitt explains, was a means for him to impose order on ordinary life. There is, too, a very amusing piece by Ed McBain on crime writing, and David Mamet writes of the joys of genre fiction, and in particular of Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey-Maturin series (now a major motion picture!). Readers should find something to like in these pages, and may indeed discover among them a handful of new authors to add to their shelves.

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