Writing examples

It would be one of them: Hallett, Levitt, Lowder or Long. It might be the mysterious Richard Hallett, a tiny peanut of a man who refused to have his picture taken or play checkers with anyone smoking. It might be the jovial Leo Levitt, a nuclear physicist from Los Angeles, or quiet Elbert Lowder, a bachelor piano tuner from Sanford, N.C. Or it might be Asa Long of Toledo, Ohio, who had won the title back in 1922, at age 18 and, if he won this tournament as well, would be both the youngest and the oldest man ever named U.S. Checker Champion, therefore embodying the sort of symmetrical statistic beloved by checker men.

— Susan Stewart in Westward magazine


Haim Saban is an Israeli American businessman whose main claim to fame is the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. A proud partisan, he is one of the biggest benefactors of the Democratic Party and Israel, and yet he remains little known outside the inner circles of power in L.A., Washington and Jerusalem. On a cloudless morning in Beverly Hills, he steps out the front door of his mansion to greet the day. His suit is pluperfect plutocrat, tie platinum, hair slicked back and streaked with stately silver. He is 58 years old, at the happily-ever-after end of a rags-to-riches story. He lives in a cocoon woven of the finest silk, on a six-acre estate in an exclusive gated community in a fantasy version of reality where all doors are opened for him: the front door, the car door, the door to his private jet, most every door he cares to walk through. Saban occasionally opens doors himself, though, with a mixture of charm and insistence. “After you,” he says, standing aside as he ushers me to his waiting Cartier edition Town Car.

— Guy Lawson in GQ magazine.


Nathan Alexander Bickley.  Now there’s a name. It conjures up a definite image, something like that of a graying Boston banker; shrewd, prosperous, dignified, confident but not arrogant, faintly aristocratic. It’s a good, gilt-edged name — exactly the kind of name you’d pick for a man who is executive vice president and paladin for the Dallas Citizens Council.

— Kit Bauman in Westward magazine


On first arriving from Florida, I brought my mother’s face close to mine, slid into a pair of well-worn loafers, some faded dungarees, and a royal blue, zippered sweatshirt; piled the marble-topped coffee table adjacent to the davenport high with long-neglected volumes; walked into the kitchen and from the pantry closet removed a package of Oreo Creme Sandwiches; returned to the living room and flicked on the television, which after a momentary lull began its incessant and hypnotic drone; invited Christie III, my mother’s saucer-eyed, russet-and-white cocker spaniel to share the davenport at my feet, and then lay down until the spring of 1958.

— Frederick Exley in A Fan’s Notes





JR Buchanan knew where the body should be — on the rocks alongside Walker Prong, high on Anakeesta Mountain in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a couple of miles from the road where the victim had been taken from his car weeks earlier by two murderous companions.

And he knew why it wasn’t there. Animal tracks crisscrossed the sandy spits along the creek, the prints of “five or six different bears.”

Then Mr. Buchanan and his partner, Buck Branam, found a jawbone, a human jawbone. And, in the still eddy pools of the creek, they spotted bits of what looked like skull.

“The bears had gotten the body and tore it apart, carrying it off. They’d cracked the skull open to eat the brains,” says Mr. Buchanan, relishing the detail.

The year was 1981and JR Buchanan (his given name is just the two initials) and Buck Branam were park rangers, back-country specialists brought into the case after one of two suspects told the FBI his companion had taken the victim up the creek and killed him with a blow to the head.

“We had to have the skull to prove the murder,” Mr. Buchanan says.

So he and his partner got down on their hands and knees to look for bear.

“The rocks were covered with moss — we would lift the moss and feel underneath for the imprints on the bottom. We worked our way up the side of the ridge from the creek — crawling — looking for anything unusual.”

Mr. Buchanan’s specialty is looking for things unusual: He’s a tracker, trained in his youth by his grandfather and uncle to track game through the forest. And if you can track bear, turkey and deer, you can track people: poachers, lost hikers, marijuana growers, murderers.

The “unusual” might be a broken twig, an overturned rock, the silvery underside of pine needles. In this case, it meant the cracked and yellowing remains of a human head.



It’s Saturday night and jet foils are pulling into Macau’s ferry terminal every 15 minutes, bearing crowds from Hong Kong and the Chinese city Shenzhen, each about 40 miles distant. A mile to the north, arrivals by land elbow their way toward customs checkpoints in a hall longer than two football fields. By 9 o’clock, visitors will arrive at the rate of some 16,000 an hour. They carry pockets full of cash and very little luggage. Most will stay one day or less. They will spend almost every minute in one of Macao’s 29 casinos. — Smithsonian, by David DeVoss



The death of Case 0996-81 was not very elegant. The 67-year-old man, reeling from a lethal dose of alcohol, galloped among the stripped-down televisions and boxes of junk in his duplex early April 15 and, finally, dropped dead, his chin catching the edge of his mattress and feet pointing straight out on the floor like a ballerina. Case 0996-81 was in hot pursuit of a 58-year-old woman. — Westward magazine, by Ralph Frammolino



“Walk with me,” John Travolta said.

Walk with him? Yeah, right. He didn’t mean walk with him; he meant walk like him, and we all know about his walk, that it is his instrument, and that he owns it. — GQ magazine, by Tom Junod.







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