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Be afraid. Be very afraid.

I strike fear into the hearts of reporters:

When I get up from my desk to take a turn around the newsroom, relieving my aching knees and pumping a little more blood to the brain, the writers look up apprehensively, knowing that when a copy editor approaches it’s never good news.

I strike terror into the hearts of motorists:

They see behind the wheel the thing they most dread on the highway: old old gray-haired guy wearing a fedora and driving at the speed limit.*

I strike consternation into the hearts of colleagues and fellow parishioners:

When I start a sentence with “That reminds me,” they know that another interminable anecdote is in the offing.**

I can fill the readers of this blog with apprehension:

I’m working on a book.


*More or less.

**Though I do not pretend to the mastery of my former colleague Caden Blincoe, who is reputed once to have emptied the bar of the Cricket Tavern in Cincinnati merely by coming through the door and saying, “I heard a story the other day ...”



Posted by John McIntyre at 4:49 PM | | Comments (13)


I will pre-order it on Amazon!

I've often thought you should write a book. I look forward to it.

I would suggest a Hip, Hip Huzzah! would be apporopriate

Yay! (About the book.) (Well, and maybe the motorists.)

At first I was hoping it would be a full-length murder mystery, Grammar Noir style. But now, having read your Wolcott piece, I'm thinking memoir. With attendant score-settling.

Can't write a memoir. Too many people still alive.

You could write it now and have it published after you depart this life. Or publish it now, heavily redacted. Or have it "leaked" ... by persons unknown.

Oh Dahlink, I like how you think.

Laura Lee,

Sounds like our clever Dahlink is trying to steal a page out of good old Samuel Clemens' ( aka Mark Twain's) memoir publishing strategies playbook, re/ how our astute blogmeister might get his tell-all, revelatory auto-biography/ memoir published w/ the minimum negative push-back possible.

Of course the insightful, and sly Mr. Clemens methodically dictated reams of juicy self-revealing satirical prose and opinion, years prior to his ultimately leaving this mortal coil; but stipulating, in legal notarized form I'd surmise, that his memoir(s) could not be published until 100 years after his death; thus insuring that various cited contrarians, no-counts, and scallywags whom he may have spoken ill of, embarrassed, or otherwise defamed in print would, a century hence, be long-moldering in their graves w/ no opportunity to seek revenge, or at least express great umbrage w/ the acerbic Twain.

Last year, abiding by Clemens' dying wish and directive, the first impressive, weighty volume (literally and figuratively) of Mark Twain's long-awaited, and much anticipated autobiography finally rolled off the presses to great media fanfare, and huge sales to match.

(I received my treasured copy last Christmas, after dropping several not-too-subtle hints to my girlfriend; doing some lame Hal Holbrook, as Twain, impressions, and the like. Still can't get that stubborn crimson beet stain out of the white flannel pant leg. And the fake handlebar mustache kept falling off, to boot. Drats!)

Whether devotees of our dear Professor McIntyre could manage to hold out for 100 years waiting for HIS memoir is a moot point. But considering most recent projections of human life-spans extending well beyond the century mark for perhaps our next generation, w/ anticipated major near-future advances in genetic engineering, and such, our dear professor might well want to add on a 50 year cushion for good measure.

On second though, maybe a Wiki-leaks-type scenario would be a better way to go, a la Dahlink's earlier suggestion.

The ball is in your court, John. Decisions, decisions.


Oh my God! Will it at least have pictures? (Other than your own, of course.)

I sometimes think, like you, that there are too many people still alive, but it's a bit of a Scroogy thought for this time of year. Best to buck up and try to snap out of it.

As to the book, take no notice of the late Hitchens' smarty-pants quote about everyone having a book in them and ....

Patricia is right about the pictures - and not just plates, but line drawings heading each chapter, please. And chapters broken up by attractive hederas. And a map on the end papers. And printed on thick, crisp, crunchy, stock. In a serif face.

And please, properly edited.


First off, great to 'hear' your voice, old lad.

Hope life has been treating you very kindly these days, as we venture into our winter of discontents. (That last little bit was more for dearest Patricia, and her earlier dig at the "Druidiots" and the just arrived winter solstice. HA!)

To your earlier point, the recently 'departed' Chris Hitchen's could well be right about "everyone having a book in them", but the lion's share of those books would amount to pure dreck, and self-indulgent drivel, I'd imagine. Maybe I'm underestimating the writing prowess of the common man? Or maybe not?

Otherwise, I'm totally on board w/ you and Patricia regarding a self-penned John E. McIntyre tome----be it a steamy who-done-it noir mystery (one of his pet genres), a tell-all, witty autobiography, or even an account of his journey thru the mine-fields of today's print journalism's terrain.

Further, I like your various stipulated features of this hypothetical book, including the maps on the end papers; although I've always liked those trippy, swirling marblized endpapers-of- old that you'd find in hefty leather-bound, 1st edition, classic tomes.

I'd even offer my services as illustrator of said book, having had some experience, and success in that endeavor......among several of my lifelong artistic pursuits. (I'm pretty good w/ pen and ink rendering, just for the record.) Don't look a gift-illustrator in the mouth, John........ if you're there. (That was awkward. Oh well)

Picky, can never picture your home town, London, at this wintery holiday season, other than in that make-believe little world of Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and Jacob Marley, especially the Alistar Sims (sp. ?) B&W filmic version of "A Christmas Carol" which I try to catch each and every Xmas.

Bah! Humbug!

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas, and a bountiful and healthy New Year, old chap.

Don't be a stranger in 2012.


And paragraph numbers in Roman numerals.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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