Famous Authors Edited By A High School English Teacher


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John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

“Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”

Hi John S. We wrote a community policy in the beginning of the semester promising to stay away from cuss words. Let’s try a “darn” or perhaps a “poopsie” instead? You can go ahead and write out the contraction of “everybody” and maybe dial back the cynicism? Proper grammar and unwavering optimism are a must in my class!

– Ms. G

George Orwell, 1984

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

I would urge you to be a little more specific than “bright” and “cold.” Make sure to utilize the list of synonyms I handed out before winter break. Maybe the morning was “brisk” or “chilled” or “hyperborean.” Clever start to your piece though, George. Thirteen o’clock?! Keep up that fun creativity.

– Ms. G

William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying

My mother is a fish.”

Saw your mother at parent-teacher conferences, Will. Not true.

– Ms. G

Herman Mellville, Moby Dick

“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.”

A little confident here aren’t we, Herman? You’re going to laugh into utter nothingness? That’s some confidence for a ninth grader. I still have trouble laughing in the teacher’s lounge. It can be really mean in there.

– Ms. G

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

“The curves of your lips rewrite history.”

I hope you’re not talking about me, Oscar! I jest. It’s really nice you used what we discussed last class about personification. I didn’t think you were listening, just playing with that large portrait you keep cloaked by your desk. I’m not sure I follow the purpose of this particular metaphor, however. Are the lips historians? That’d be neat!

– Ms. G

Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons


Gertrude- did you get the assignment sheet? This feels abrasive.

– Ms. G

James Joyce, Ulysses

“He is young Leopold, as in a retrospective arrangement, a mirror within a mirror (hey, presto!), he beholdeth himself. That young figure of then is seen, precious manly, walking on a nipping morning from the old house in Clanbrassil to the high school, his book satchel on him bandolier wise, and in it a goodly hunk of wheaten loaf, a mother’s thought.”

This is confusing, Jimmy, like almost everything else you’ve written. Remember what I told you at the beginning of the semester when you turned in quite a winding piece about a romp in hell? You have to edit your thoughts. Don’t forget: Concise, Precise, That’s What’s Nice!

Ms. G

Charles Dickens, Tale of Two Cities

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.”

I’m afraid this first line makes no sense, Charlie. Was it good or bad times? Your reader will be confused and I can assure you, no one will read on. Good try!

– Ms. G

“To be or not to be, that is the question.”

Passive voice, Will. We talked about this.

– Ms.

Sam Shanker is a New York based writer, sister, daughter, friend. Follow on Twitter here.

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