NEW YORK -- While sorting through the perennial lip-pursing tempest about a certain word in Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" -- the "N-word," as we now say it -- I turned for inspiration to the master himself. "The difference between the almost-right word & the right word is ... the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning," Twain wrote. This is a familiar refrain among writers and editors, who toil in solitary agony -- agonize in solitary toil? -- over the perfect combinations of vowels and consonants.
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