Steven Pressfield’s ‘Do the Work!’

Steven Pressfield is an author I like, particularly his wonderful novel Gates of Fire. It’s a fictionalized story of the Battle of Thermopylae—a Greek location I visited in 2009—where a great quote reminds us of their valor: Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that here obedient to their laws we lie. (There are a number of translations of this quote; this is Steven Pressfield’s.)

Pressfield has written a new non-fiction book called Do The Work!. An exceprt from the linked article, which explains its content:

Pressfield and others recognized that “it’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance,” as he described in The War Of Art.

Last week, Pressfield released his latest non-fiction book, Do The Work!, which is the second release on Seth Godin’s new book publishing imprint, The Domino Project (powered by Amazon). The book (clocking it at under a hundred pages) reads more like a manifesto than a piece of non-fiction. In Do The Work!, Pressfield continues to chop away at the “Resistance” and weaves one of the best business books I’ve read in a long while. This book will leave you -and your business -with no other choice but to get down to doing the work (as the title implies).

“These are the forms of self-sabotage that we as artists and entrepreneurs inflict on ourselves…”

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Top 10 Unforgettable Editorials

Found at Smithsonian, a list by T.A. Frail—These editorial voices rose above the America clamor with words we will never forget:

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Review—Hating Olivia, by Mark SaFranko

Every book I read these days is an opportunity for me to evaluate writing styles. And when I think back on all the crime thrillers, suspense novels, and noir fiction that I’ve enjoyed over the years, it’s the punchy dialog, the brevity of words, and “the short declarative sentences,” as in reference to Hemingway, that I liked. This was often coupled with poetic prose that gave these books a contrasting feel—where one can get a sense of the author’s soul.

I’ve only recently been introduced to authors John Fante and Charles Bukowski, and although their subjects are depressing, they’re style is somewhat similar. It’s unfair to say that Mark SaFranko’s Hating Olivia is exactly like them, but as Dan Fante, son of John Fante, said in the introduction, “Hating Olivia is fresh meat, a gift tied together with a bloodstained bow.”

There’s another thing: Mr. SaFanko has written a “hundred short stories, fifty of them already in print. A box full of poetry and essays. And ten complete novels, eight of them yet to hit the bookshelves. A dozen plays, some produced in New York and others staged in Ireland. SaFranko writes songs too, a hundred and fifty so far.” So, unpublished old guy that I am, I’m intimidated before I’ve finished the introduction!

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Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980)

Alfred Hitchock died April 29, 1980. A comprehensive look at the director—”destined to make sublime film thrillers”— by Ken Mogg, author of The Alfred Hitchcock Story, can be found at senses of cinema.

Hitchcock supposedly coined, or at least popularized the idea of the “MacGuffin,” a plot element in fiction or films that drives the action. In 1939 Hitchcock said, ”[We] have a name in the studio, and we call it the ‘MacGuffin’. It is the mechanical element that usually crops up in any story. In crook stories it is almost always the necklace and in spy stories it is most always the papers.” Check out a list of the Top 10 MacGiffins in films.

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Last Typewriter Factory in the World Shuts Its Doors

From the Atlantic, “It never occurred to me that I might not be able to find one whenever the desire hit. Sure, there are thousands collecting dust on thrift store shelves from here to Texarkana, but that will eventually change. Now that Godrej and Boyce [in India], the last company left in the world still manufacturing the devices, has closed its doors, when typewriters make their way to landfills, there won’t be any new ones to replace them.”

UpdateRelax, They’re Still Making Typewriters. (Hat tip: Frank Wilson)

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Author Harper Lee

From Today in Literature:

On this day in 1926 Harper Lee was born in Monroeville, Alabama. After the immediate and overwhelming success of To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), Lee is known to have published only three short magazine articles, all in the early 60s; nor has she broken the silence and anonymity into which she quickly retreated. Legions of readers, fans and homework-driven students continue to make the real or internet trip to Monroeville to see the old courthouse (now a museum), or to see the house where Lee grew up (gone, now a burger stand), or to espy the author, who still spends her summers there….

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Kapitoil, a Novel

From Powell’s Books, a brief review of Kapitoil by Teddy Wayne, a first time novelist. What I found interesting about the book is the reviewer’s commentary on good novels with “unreliable narrators” as Kapitoil apparently is.

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Malevolent Altruism

Dr. Helen, a psychologist, asks, Is Political Correctness a form of Pathological Altruism? The three women discussing the subject in the linked video help with the explanation; and one commenter’s C. S. Lewis quote—a well-known one—is appropriate here:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

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On Montaigne

How to Live: or, A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell is not really a “self-help” book…or perhaps it is. See the review found at 3Quarks Daily. An exceprt:

In fact, Bakewell’s book is so sincerely engaged with the question of how best to muddle through life that it takes a chapter or two to remember that what you’re actually reading is a biography of the great French essayist Michel Eyquem de Montaigne. And no sooner do you get your mind around this fact than you realize that there’s more. How to Live not only tells the story of Montaigne, the man; it also tells the story of (in Bakewell’s wonderful phrase), “Montaigne, the long party.” For more than four centuries, readers have crowded into the capacious chambers of the Essays to listen, laugh, think, thrill to, and argue with one of the greatest minds in history. It is that conversation, as much as the man who started it, that How to Live animates and explains. In sum, this book, like its subject, is expansive, genre-defying, and preposterously smart.:


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