Sign up for our free newsletter

Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.

Washington Post Literary Flourish: “Dawn Rieck sat at the dining room table in her split-level house at Andrews Air Force Base, chain-smoking. She wore a distant yet acute expression, as if she were trying to read the wind.”—

;“A Family’s Painful Journey,” by Mary Otto, 3/30/05

Skinny: No wind at dining-room table.

Washington Post Literary Flourish: “It is the world of in-between in which meaning is determined by the degree of diminished light. There is shade, the good girl of daylight and cool breezes. Then there is her naughty sister, shadow, that which makes dark things possible, some of them alluring in spite of their danger. Or maybe because of.”

—“Fading Into the Shade,” by Neely Tucker, 7/28/05

Skinngy: Or maybe rewrite from start to finish.

Washington Post Literary Flourish: “It was the biggest fish Sklar had caught—it was ‘the biggest I’d ever seen with my own eyes,’ he said yesterday. It brought the state record home to Bishopville, just northwest of Ocean City… And it climaxed one man’s five-year adherence to the mystical ways of those who fish the surf.”

—“52-Pound Reward For 5-Year Obsession,” by Michael E. Ruane, 5/21/05

Skinny: Climax? Just what are you saying?

Washington Post Literary Flourish: “It was high noon Thursday at a rest stop on the edge of Baton Rouge when several buses pulled in, fresh from the calamity of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

Hundreds piled out, dragging themselves as if floating through some kind of thick liquid.”

—“‘To Me, It Just Seems Like Black People Are Marked,’” by Wil Haygood, 9/2/05

Skinny: Are we talking milkshake or motor oil?

Washington Post Literary Flourish: “‘It was like going to hell and back,’ said Bernadette Washington, 38, a black homemaker from Orleans Parish who had slept under a bridge the night before with her five children and her husband. She sighed the

familiar refrain, stinging as an old-time blues note: ‘All I have is the clothes on my back. And I been sleeping in them for three days.’”

—“‘To Me, It Just Seems Like Black People Are Marked’” by Wil Haygood, 9/2/05

Skinny: Blues notes soothe; bees sting.

Washington Post Literary Flourish: “Both parents had been thinking about the hurricane, the aftermath, the looting, the politicians who might come to Louisiana and who might not. And their own holding-on lives, now jangly like bedsprings suddenly snapped.”

—“‘To Me, It Just Seems Like Black People Are Marked,’” by Wil Haygood, 9/2/05

Skinny: Yeah—those damn brittle bedsprings.

Washington Post Literary Flourish: “In the South, the issue of race—black, white—always seems as ready to come rolling off the tongue as a summer whistle.”

—“‘To Me, It Just Seems Like Black People Are Marked’” by Wil Haygood, 9/2/05

Skinny: Two-count indictment: (1) Whistles occur in all seasons, and (2) fourth attempted metaphor in single piece draws automatic flag for piling on.

Washington Post Literary Flourish: “[Martha Stewart’s] ballyhooed ‘Apprentice’ debut wilted like an orchid repotted in soil instead of fir bark and charcoal and put in an area with less than 50 percent humidity.”

The TV Column, by Lisa de Moraes, 9/28/05

Skinny: Strong prescription for orchid-wilting; writing clear and detailed.

Washington Post Literary Flourish: “[August Wilson’s dramas] also reveal the acumen of Wilson’s ear in the cross currents of language that flow from his characters as if pouring out of deep, lustrous, meandering canals.”

—“The Cycle of August Wilson’s Life,” by Peter Marks, 10/4/05

Skinngy: Canal water generally filthy, stagnant—not lustrous.