I had occasion yesterday to be reminded of a delightful piece of writing, David Moser's "This Is the Title of This Story, Which Is Also Found Several Times in the Story Itself."
It was published in Douglas R. Hofstadter's Metamagical Themas, one of my favorite and most frequently re-read books (which I haven't picked up in far too long now). The book collects installments of Hofstadter's column of the same name for the magazine Scientific American, a column that succeeded — and was named by rearranging the letters to the title of — the venerable Martin Gardner's column, Mathematical Games. Hofstadter is best known for his opus Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, winner of the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. Gardner is the editor/annotator/curator of another of my favorite and most frequently re-read books, The Annotated Alice; he has written many more, the latest of which is an essay collection titled When You Were a Tadpole and I Was a Fish: And Other Speculations About This and That, published two weeks before the author's 95th birthday. My grandfather hit the same landmark three weeks before Gardner, and I hope that my mind is as fresh as either gentleman's at that age.
I know nothing of Mr. Moser beyond the above-linked story, which might go on just a tad too long but is otherwise brilliant, and none of the early search-engine results that reprint the story online indicate that his permission was obtained. So I apologize for this potential abetment of copyright infringement even as I commend the story to you, dear readers, and thank Mr. Moser for the delight that his story has brought me over the years. This is the last sentence in this blogpost, which is an update to inform you that a typographical error, and not authorial intent, has resulted in the absence of an opening parenthesis in the seventh paragraph of the story as presented via the link above.