I hate to sound like an author boasting about how enthusiastically his book was received. It is a fact, though, that a friend of mine who lives in Miami once told me that the pieces in a collection of columns I'd just published were a perfect length for the wait experienced by motorists when one of those drawbridges on the Intercoastal Waterway goes up to let a boat through.

I thought of my friend's observation recently when I read a story in the Washington Post reporting that a man named Andrew Carroll has been handing out cheap editions of The Raven,...

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