In the mid-1960s, when Woody Allen was just becoming established as America’s resident neurotic, doing nightclub monologues, I wrote the first long magazine piece that took note of his arrival. It ended like this:

“If people come away relating to me as a person,” Allen says, “rather than just enjoying my jokes; if they come away wanting to hear me again, no matter what I might talk about, then I’m succeeding.” Judging by the returns, he is. Wood Allen is Mr. Related-To, and he seems a good bet to hold the franchise for many years.

Yet he does have a problem all his own, unshared by, unrelated to, the rest of America. “I’m obsessed,” he says, “by the fact that my mother genuinely resembles Groucho Marx.”

William Zinsser, On Writing Well
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