Great writers don't always offer the words of undiluted inspiration we'd like; their keen insight and penchant for honesty about the human condition produces observations about our weakness, our sins or about how painful history can shadow our futures ("The past is never dead. It's not even past," as William Faulkner wrote).
The New Year, however, is no time for such dire reflections. No matter that, as Mark Twain likes to point out, "Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual." Perhaps this year you will actually use your gym membership,...
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