Eight things I highlighted…

7 August 2013

… in Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World by Matthew Goodman:

  1. His specialty was the placement of oaths inside otherwise respectable words—“The problem with that man,” he would bellow to an underling, “is that he’s too indegoddampendent.”
  2. She amused herself by noting the idiosyncrasies of the other passengers. One man, she saw, took his pulse after each meal; another, for some reason, counted the number of steps he took each day.
  3. In the West as in the East, it seemed, there was money to be made in displaying oneself for the curiosity of strangers.
  4. Journalism advice from Joseph Pulitzer: “Condense! Condense!” he regularly barked at his editors, urging them to cut extraneous words, to keep sentences short and descriptions vivid, to make the language as accessible as possible. … “I hate all rare, unusual, non-understandable words. Avoid the vanity of foreign words or phrases or unfamiliar terms. Editorials must be written for the people, not for the people, not for the few.”
  5. A World reader might find, for instance, a poignant report about flowers growing in tenement windows. “The woman who bought the flower made shirts,” the story noted about one of them. “She finished them at thirty-five cents a dozen. The flower cost fifteen cents and the pot ten. The woman made nine shirts to buy the flower.”
  6. “a pretty piece of feminine revenge.”
  7. How to tell a story: “Keep on getting him, or her, into more just such holes, one in each chapter, until they get married or take out accident insurance, when, of course, the story must end.”
  8. She described herself, in those days, as a clock with a broken mainspring. “If you shake me hard I tick for a few moments, but soon relapse into silence and uselessness.”

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