This article about judging NYC art galleries based upon their pens seemed like just my kind ‘o thing. I can totally respect the idea of critiquing galleries and of expecting them to have something more than the usual. Pens, too, are a tool for creating art.

Even though my professional writing is almost invariably done on a computer, I am painfully fussy about my pens.

For years, I had single pen; a fountain pen. It had no brand name on it (though it used cartridges made by Waterman), but it had been a gift of Jose and Nico – two friends from Spain – and it was slender and graceful. A perfect writing instrument. It broke after almost ten years during a particularly soul crushing and unhappy Christmas in New York.

I looked for something to replace it and settled on a Cross Century II in chrome. As to pile on the misery, that model has been discontinued, but it has been a sturdy friend so far. The style in fountain pens these days is ostentatious and big and thick. The fountain pen as a tool for Freudian compensation. But I got used to a finer, more elegant style (are you noticing the rhetorical tools that I’m using to dismiss the favored style of fountain pens?) and though I haven’t found anything so slender as the father of my fountain pens, the Century II is comparatively slender, which is why I chose it.

I love this particular kind of notebook – I believe they were originally designed as school composition books – that I used to buy at this shop in LA’s Little Tokyo. They had strange sentences on the front that were clearly more or less literal translations from the Japanese, things like: This notebook is good for writing sentences.

Anyway, a good fountain pen that feels right, fits in the hand and has the correct, tactile feel when you put it to paper, is also ‘good for writing sentences.’


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