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The Slate Diaries Paperback – October 1, 2000

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1 edition (October 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586480073
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586480073
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,283,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

One of the most popular features in the pioneering online magazine Slate (edited by Michael Kinsley) is the "Diary"--an actual daily diary written by an interesting person and published in real time. The Slate Diaries collects several dozen of the best. It's impossible to describe their marvelous eclecticism, except perhaps by sharing a few highlights. Tucker Carlson, a writer for The Weekly Standard:
Had the sort of day that gives magazine writers the reputation--entirely deserved--for being lazy and overfed: Played with the kids in the backyard after breakfast, wrote at home till noon, had an enormous lunch at the Palm, returned a few calls, then sat around the office to gossip, telling stories, and trading theories about Clinton's sex life.
Larry Doyle, a producer for The Simpsons:
I have not seen Beauregard [his dog] in nine weeks, though I have been kept abreast of his bowel movements. I told Becky [his wife] yesterday in a way I missed Beauregard more than I missed her, because, after all, I got to talk to her on the phone every day and--well, I was trying to make the very interesting point that the bond between man and wife is essentially a higher meeting of the minds while the bond between man and dog is a more primal, physical one, but Becky didn't find this very interesting.
Untenured, "an assistant professor at a well-known private American university":
Let me assure you that I love my job. This is no mean feat given some of the drawbacks of academic life. Academic survival requires that you endure a Darwinian test that selects for a peculiar cocktail of masochism, sadism, perversity, and the ability to withstand large quantities of institutionalized torture over long periods of time with few measurable rewards.

Also, find out where Bill Gates says he "must have met more famous people in one place ... than anywhere I've been," what Karenna Gore Schiff (daughter of Al Gore) thinks of her Secret Service codename "Smurfette," and how federal judge Alex Kozinski handles writing a tricky dissenting opinion: "I really want to say that my colleagues are out to lunch, but in a way that won't tick them off." Other contributors include former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, film critic Roger Ebert, memoirist Dave Eggers, writer Malcolm Gladwell, author Michael Lewis, and novelist Cynthia Ozick. The Slate Diaries is a surprising, inspired, and wonderful anthology. --John J. Miller

About the Author

Generally considered home to most of the best writing on the web, Slate is an on-line magazine edited by Michael Kinsley. It currently has more than one million visitors each month.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is a total delight. I can't decide who I like more: the "professional" writers like Ron Carlson, Cynthia Ozick, Allegra Goodman, David Sedaris, etc., or the amateurs whose diaries are amazingly well written and moving. You certainly get a voyueristic sense from some of these--it is a guilty thrill to read someone's diary. But mostly you just get a ton of great writing. This is fabulous!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jacqueline Marcus on January 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
Slate's Diaries are a delight to read. Most of the diaries are short, impressionistic descriptions of the contributors' daily activities, which are artfully and, for the most part, humorously written.
I can say unequivocally that nearly all of the contributors' weekly journals, selected for Slate Diaries, held my attention. Regardless of vocation, these individuals were able to transform the quotidian into interesting and lively stories. As Mike Kinsley suggests, the diary-genre of writing is more difficult than it looks. For some, it comes naturally-perhaps because writers generally keep diaries and they're used to describing events and thoughts. In my opinion, today's journalists are not practicing narrative writing. Lord only knows what would happen if they were asked to describe a landscape, a person's attire, the scent and sounds of the city or the country, or the way a building is designed. This genre of "descriptive" journalistic writing has nearly all but vanished in our major newspapers. Michael Kelly argued that narrative died when the television camera became the "image-maker".
Michael Kinsley initiated the Diarist at the New Republic and thank goodness he has kept the tradition going at Slate. Slate Diaries prove, against the wave of mechanistic writing, that narrative writing is still very much appreciated! It is also fascinating to note that the contributors who are not professional writers-turned out to be the best writers. For example, Lakshmi Gopalkrishnan, a lead site manager for Microsoft Office, wrote a fascinating account of her homeland, while visiting her family in Kerala, India. It has all the qualities of a Chekhov short story: irony, darkness, humor and symbolism.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By digerati VINE VOICE on January 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
What's good about this book: the ordinary, everyday people who aren't writers, journalists or who don't work in publishing. Hell, even Bill Gates fits into this category (though his entry is strangely mundane). Intensely enjoyable, harrowing, shocking, uplifting entries from all walks of life. I don't know where else you'd find this. Some serious, important writing in these entries.
What's bad about this book: way too many entries from journalists, writers or those in publishing. It's inevitable that Slate staffers are going to know lots of these people, but the urge to indulge has not been curbed. Like so many narcissistic TV shows that are about other TV shows, publishing or the media, this book has way too many writers writing about writing. Well, I have a news flash with story at 11: You're just not that interesting.
Give me more of the New York public defender taking on the hopeless murder cases for the homeless; give me more of the school nurse's insight and wisdom glimpsed through the children she sees; give me more of the hilarious classified ad sales person. What I don't need is more of the self-regarding petulance of the author and literary editor whose story got rejected.
By all means grab a copy of this at the airport and skip the boring entries -- exactly what I ended up doing during a 3 hour delay in Denver. Or head over to the Slate web site and pick the wheat from the chaff yourself. Not a bad book, but not what it claims to be either -- "the best" Slate diary entries.
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