>Hapax Legomenon, David Byrne, and Hemingway’s Love


Hapax legomenon. I learned this phrase the other day. It is an instance of a word occurring once in a language, the work of an author, or a single text. It’s a very pretentious phrase but one that has great import for writers. This fact has been motivating me to keep writing: 44% of Melville’s words in Moby Dick are hapax legomena. That means that almost half of the seven hundred pages contain words  that sonofabitch never used again in the book. I guess that’s what happens when you are a scribner for eight hours a day; you write one of the best books of all time. I’m scribing six hours a day, maybe mine will be half as good.

I’ve been going a little bit crazy lately, just a tad. I think I’m going to start wearing oversized suits more, for one, and living deeper in my brain, for another, with only David Byrne to help me stop making sense.

I finished For Whom the Bell Tolls the other night. It moved me to tears. Some books you know you’re going to love as soon as you start reading them and you don’t want them to end. Some books are good, and get better in your memory when you’ve finished them. Some books are a drag and you want to be done with them already. This book I knew I was going to love, found myself wishing it was over at times, and then at the end felt it to be justifiably his masterpiece. It made me better understand the importance of loving life.

Yours forever and always,
Daniel Adler

By Daniel Ryan Adler

Daniel Adler writes fiction and nonfiction and is finishing his MFA at University of South Carolina.

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