“It is dangerous and illegal to walk on the highway.”
—Quote from the Michigan driver’s ed manual 
I grew up in Detroit, Motor City, and so my delight in carless transportation has always seemed a bit perverse. But anybody who is a writer knows the feeling. What we do might not be dangerous or illegal, but it can sometimes look a little crazy from the outside.

Josh Weil

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From The New Valley by Josh Weil

I can’t resist quoting a short and delightful character sketch of Deb from The New Valley. It’s hard to give people like Deb, who may not think of themselves as fascinating individuals, the spotlight. Josh Weil does it brilliantly, and I remind myself of this passage when I’m having a hard time nailing a character:


“She was wearing a teal sweatshirt with two pink teddy bears on it and she had matched the colors to her eyeliner and lipstick. She’d been dying her hair for sixteen years, and that night it was showing a little purplish. Her eyes were small for her round, pudgy face, but they were bright, so that men often took a second look at her, thinking maybe she was better looking than they had thought. Once, long ago, she had wanted to be a doctor, or at least a nurse. She liked carrots better than almost anything else and had baked herself the best carrot cake in Eads County for her birthday. She had excellent night vision. In high school, her volleyball teammates had called the look she got in her eyes Death by Debbie. Even her husband would have admitted that she had a beautiful smile. She was four days older than fifty.”

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