Monthly Archives: January 2019

Roger W. Smith, tribute to Pierre Coustillas (Gissing authority)





roger’s tribute to piere coustilas



Posted here as a PDF document (above) is:


Roger W. Smith, “Tribute to Pierre Coustillas,” Supplement to The Gissing Journal , Volume LIL, Number 4, October 2018

Pierre Coustillas (1930-2018) was a French literary scholar and emeritus professor of English at the University of Lille. He was the world’s foremost authority on the works of the late-Victorian novelist George Gissing.

new site: Roger’s rhetoric




I have a new site:


Roger’s rhetoric



On this site, there are many posts about writing per se. My observations re same, my education and training as a writer, the principles of good writing (including criticisms of my own writing that have made by less experienced writers, and how I have responded; and what I see as shortcomings of some common advice given to beginning writers), good vs. bad writing, political correctness and language policing of writing, what can be learned from the great writers I have read (and continue to), and fine points of grammar and style.

There is enough material here, I feel, for a book on writing, perhaps titled “Proverbs from Roger’s Writing Lair,” and Other Essays on the Craft of Writing.

My posts come at the principles and mechanics of writing, and issues of style, from many different vantage points, and drawing upon my actual experience as a writer. In contrast to the usual freshman composition texts and writers’ guides with a lot of anodyne, boiler plate advice organized in outline fashion, with a cookbook like feel, often overly general as a result of the author’s objective of covering every question a novice writer might have.



— Roger W. Smith

   posted on my Roger’s Gleanings site on December 13, 2019

the perpetual (and wonderful) inventiveness of children’s minds



And, playfulness.




A conversation overheard by me this afternoon in the Le Paris Dakar cafe on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn, and transcribed verbatim.




A little girl asking her father

“Why did the chicken cross the road?”

father: “To get to the other side?”

girl: “To go to knock on the door. Knock, knock.”




img_6608 (7)

Le Paris Dakar Cafe


— Roger W. Smith

  January 7, 2019



50’s songs



My choice of the greatest 1950’s (and some early 1960’s) hit songs — they give me an adrenaline rush — consists of the following:
The Platters

Only You (And You Alone) (1955)





The Platters

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (1958)





The Penguins

Earth Angel (1955)





Fred Paris and the Satins (aka The Five Satins)

In the Still of the Night (1956)





The Chantels

Maybe (1957)




The Teddy Bears

To Know Him Is To Love Him (1958)





Dion and the Belmonts

A Teenager in Love






Phil Phillips

Sea of Love (1959)


The Shirelles

Will You Love Me Tomorrow (1960)





The Ronettes

Be My Baby (1963)





Skeeter Davis

The End of the World (1963)






The Crystals

Da Doo Ron (1963)





The Crystals

Then He Kissed Me (1963)







What experience or qualifications do I have as a rock or pop music critic? Zero. I heard these tunes over and over again growing up. They kind of get drilled into you and never leave you. The experience is a pleasant one.

Music has a place in practically everyone’s lives. I know, it’s a cliché. But popular music proves this is true.

Your armchair critic feels that the following was true of musical developments of my youth. That the first popular music I recall hearing, on the radio, consisted of Hit Parade tunes such as “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window” and “Love and Marriage” that were INSIPID, if catchy. Things changed — undeniably for the better — when rock and roll and doo wop came along. Rock music got worse in the Sixties, I feel — it’s probably a minority opinion. The singers were worse and the music was less emotionally engaging.

Enjoy the tunes. And my thoughts, if you care, for whatever they’re worth.


— Roger W. Smith

   January 2019




Addendum: Black singers and groups and the musical styles they seemed to have learned early on or imbibed, so to speak, had a particular importance. It’s no accident, I feel, that they wrote and performed so many of the best songs. Lead tenor Tony Williams of the Platters is in a class by himself. His voice is spellbinding.




Dreiser site updated.



My Theodore Dreiser site, which has been online for several years, has been updated.

The new web address (URL) is


Please note that, although I haven’t been adding much content lately, the site is not inactive. I have been continually collecting materials and I intend to add some new posts within the next few months. Several posts are in preparation, one of which I am collaborating on with another Deriser researcher. A fair amount of the material is original, meaning that it was obtained from primary sources or sources which seem to have been hitherto overlooked.

I beg forgiveness on account of other writing assignments that have taken priority. I intend to get back to Dreiser soon.



— Roger W. Smith

   January 2019