Reading a review by A. Alvarez (one of my favorite depressive Brit writers) of a Caroline Moorehead biography of Martha Gellhorn (one of my favorite reporters) in the April 8 NYRB, I came across an excellent little snippet from a youthful letter of hers:

The great temptation is to do what I call “fine writing,” the beautiful mellow phrases and the carefully chosen words. That I must avoid like the plague; only the simple words; only the straight clear sentences. I am terribly frightened of “style.”

Not the final truth, of course, but a useful corrective to one’s florid tendencies.


  1. Eamonn Fitzgerald’s Rainy Day blog this week is excerpting passages of Gellhorn’s reporting on D-Day. Scroll down to 31 May, then work your way up.

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