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Desperate Ambrose

Deborah in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, remembers a phrase from her grandfather: Desperate Ambrose. He’s so desperate he would steal a hot stove. The first part is a reference to Desperate Ambrose, a character in the comic strip...

How Grief Bangs One About

A 1952 thank-you note from then recently widowed Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother is a moving description of how grief “bangs one about until one is senseless,” and the comfort that the gift of a book can provide. This is part of a...

Thinking Like Shakespeare

In a passage from How to Think Like Shakespeare: Lessons from a Renaissance Education, Scott Newstok, a professor at Rhodes College, offers an apt description of class letting out and students wandering about while focused on their phones. This is...

The Most Dreadful Thing at Sea

Victor Hugo’s 1874 novel Ninety-Three includes a terrifying description of a heavy cannon coming loose on board a ship, an event he calls “perhaps the most dreadful thing that can take place at sea.” This is part of a complete...

A Mouthful of Air

In his book about language, A Mouthful of Air, Anthony Burgess offers a lyrical description of the satisfying way that grammar supports and enhances the thoughts we wish to express. This is part of a complete episode.