The Give of Gift


“Gift” is my G-word today, though settling on just one word was tough. G is the letter of generous, great, gregarious, goofy, genius, gorge, ginger, gene. And so many others. When you see it show up in Scrabble, you’re not disappointed.

But gift is a good, flexible word. It can mean the thing you give to someone, carefully choosing it in some cases, spotting it in the checkout line and deciding it will do in others. It can, like this morning’s book, refer to talents and abilities which we all know usually have two sides, in reality and fiction alike.

There’s a reason it’s a popular word for a title, because it tells us something before we’ve even begun. Gifts–the kind we give one another–are physical manifestations of thoughtfulness, something that’s not always easy to quantify. And lack of thought behind one can reveal exactly the opposite. They can show us how well we know, or don’t a person.

Gift runs the gamut from concrete to metaphorical, from abstract to sitting right in front of you. But like few words with so much range, you know exactly what it means.

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The Gifts of G


G was tricky, given that it’s great letter gorged with possibility. So many words, too good to gloss over. So I’m going with “gifts,” and I discovered something kind of of funny and too good to share.

There are a gaggles of books called “The Gift.” Some have subtitles like the one below, some are simply “The Gift.” Gobs of variety under one title. So that will be the title of both books in the book posts today. The genres? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see the other one.


The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World (Vintage) by Lewis Hyde. Amazon for $9.15. Discusses the argument that a work of art is essentially a gift and not a commodity. “The best book I know of for talented but unacknowledged creators. . . . A masterpiece.” —Margaret Atwood

“No one who is invested in any kind of art . . . can read The Gift and remain unchanged.” —David Foster Wallace

“Few books are such life-changers as The Gift: epiphany, in sculpted prose.” —Jonathan Lethem

“A manifesto of sorts for anyone who makes art [and] cares for it.” —Zadie Smith

“This long-awaited new edition of Lewis Hyde’s groundbreaking and influential study of creativity is a cause for across-the-board celebration.” —Geoff Dyer

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