“…because it always seems, in the end, that writing is such a desolate, lonely profession and it never gets less lonely. In fact, as I sit here a few days before turning 50, it feels so lonely that I wonder if I can visit the place of writing any more – which, in a backward way, tells me that’s exactly why I should go forward. The things worth writing about, and the things worth reading about, are the things that feel almost beyond description at the start and are, because of that, frightening.”—
“What kind of project?”
I decide to tell her. She seems like she can handle it.
“I believe we are all being sucked into a barely detectable cavity. A very slippery sort of crater. And once we realize we are down there, it will be too late.”
“Can’t we climb out?”
“Our hands and feet don’t have that kind of traction, and our hearts and minds will be too sad to believe in hopeful things, like getting out.”
“We’ll be like one of those gangly millipedes who find themselves drowning in a toilet bowl?” she says.
“Except less panicky. If the millipede can be lethargic and defeated, then yes.”—
“Anyway, I guess I was staring up at the skylight - I must have been doing it for a long time - and remember, I’m happy, I really am, I’m having a good day up to this point - and the little thing ringing me up, she all of a sudden stops what she’s doing, and she takes hold of my arm, and she says, “Ma’am, are you all right? Do you need me to call someone?””—
“I want, for instance, to be a different person. I want to be the woman who brings these two books back in two weeks. I want to be the effective citizen who changes the school system and addresses the Board of Estimate on the troubles of this dear urban center.”—
“Listen to me. I’m just a baker. I don’t claim to be anything else. Maybe once, maybe years ago, I was a different kind of human being. I’ve forgotten, I don’t know for sure. But I’m not any longer, if I ever was. Now I’m just a baker. That don’t excuse my doing what I did, I know.”—
And she flung herself upon a polar-bear skin in a paroxysm of giant mirth.
Utterly crushed, I went out to do myself in. Racking my brain for the most expressive method, I suddenly remembered a man called Harringay, a taxidermist who was often at her cocktail parties, where he had eyed me with a friendly interest.
I went to his shop. He was there alone.
«Harringay! Stuff me!»
«Sure. What shall it be? Steak? Chop suey? Something fancy?»
«No, Harringay, bitumen. Harringay, I want you to employ your art upon me. Send me to Miss Bjornstjorm with my compliments. For her collection. I love her.»
“Cole Porter wanted to control what was happening, including that admiration and love, but when he looked up after the last refrain he saw that the young man was gone. In the midst of all the laughing and the clinking of glasses, behind the facade of perfection, something was not quite right. There would be other young men, he knew that, and more or less he accepted it. But not really. Which is why he went horse-back riding.”—
“Sales guy for a narrative experiential lifestyle product, narrator. Just titles, really. My job is to sell this story to you. To make it yours. To make you believe. To make you feel something again. Isn’t that what you wanted?”—
“They couldn’t stop expressing surprise and joy at the revelations; the discovery of shared misery was as thrilling, in its way, as the discovery of mutual love. Terence said he wanted to take early retirement and drive a motorcycle to Central America. What a cliche, Kathleen thought, then realized that his behavior no longer implicated her, that she didn’t need to be concerned. And she told him it sounded like a great idea.”—
“Having penetrated a man’s personal space,
immediately seek out his Sweet Spot.
The Sweet Spot is where he empties his
pockets at the end of the day and stores
the essentials he needs to begin the next.
The Sweet Spot of a secretive, catlike man
will most often be inside a cupboard or a
When you find it, consider using a Data
Surge to capture the contents of his
A Data Surge must be deployed with
extreme caution, and only if you feel
confident of an exceptional yield.
The quantity of information captured will
require an enormous amount of manpower
to tease apart.
Its transmission will register on any
We can guarantee its effectiveness
only once.”—Read Black Box by Jennifer Egan - a new story from the New Yorker.
“On the way back to Jennifer’s room I did something Barbie almost didn’t forgive me for. I did something which not only shattered the moment, but nearly wrecked the possibility of our having a future together.
In the hallway between the stairs and Jennifer’s room, I popped Barbie’s head into my mouth, like lion and tamer, God and Godzilla.”—
“Sinatra had been working in a film that he now disliked, could not wait to finish; he was tired of all the publicity attached to his dating the twenty-year-old Mia Farrow, who was not in sight tonight; he was angry that a CBS television documentary of his life, to be shown in two weeks, was reportedly prying into his privacy, even speculating on his possible friendship with Mafia leaders; he was worried about his starring role in an hour-long NBC show entitled Sinatra — A Man and His Music, which would require that he sing eighteen songs with a voice that at this particular moment, just a few nights before the taping was to begin, was weak and sore and uncertain. Sinatra was ill. He was the victim of an ailment so common that most people would consider it trivial. But when it gets to Sinatra it can plunge him into a state of anguish, deep depression, panic, even rage. Frank Sinatra had a cold.”—
“Shipley had an old VW van he drove Beatrice around in after class. He bought her lunch with a credit card belonging to a Shipley Sr., and wrote stories in which the two of them met Chekhov and took him to the doctor. He let Beatrice stick a fine sewing needle in his face and insisted it made him feel better all around. Knowing her financial situation, he cut her envelopes of coupons, brought her bags of pharmaceutical samples from his mother’s office. They lay side by side on the grassy campus hills, drinking children’s cough syrup and chewing Flintstones vitamins until the sun set over the Fine Arts Building and they fell asleep, waking up with bugs and grass in their hair. The word idyllic sprang to Beatrice’s mind more than once, but she ignored it, thinking it was probably just anxiety. For when she wasn’t with Shipley, she was irritable, unsettled. She had lost track of some of her unhappiness and could not seem to relocate it, not even in the bedrooms of the boys on the second floor-though she had looked.”—
“The strange and mysterious things which day by day befell the Student Anselmus, had entirely withdrawn him from his customary life. He no longer visited any of his friends, and waited every morning with impatience for the hour of noon, which was to unlock his paradise. And yet while his whole soul was turned to the gentle Serpentina, and the wonders of Archivarius Lindhorst’s fairy kingdom, he could not help now and then thinking of Veronica; nay, often it seemed as if she came before him and confessed with blushes how heartily she loved him; how much she longed to rescue him from the phantoms, which were mocking and befooling him.”—
“And I despise your books, I despise wisdom and the blessings of this world. It is all worthless, fleeting, illusory, and deceptive, like a mirage. You may be proud, wise, and fine, but death will wipe you off the face of the earth as though you were no more than mice burrowing under the floor, and your posterity, your history, your immortal geniuses will burn or freeze together with the earthly globe.”—
“The first time I saw Marnie naked she was lying on her back in an ambulance while two paramedics cut her yellow Burton shell off her torso. The zipper must’ve been caught on the fabric. The medical boys sliced her jacket and all the fleece underlayers right up the middle with a razor-sharp scissors as if she were a fish. They needed to get to her heart. Didn’t we all?”—
“Lou was doing eighty on Trapelo Road. Eighty on Trapelo. “Where are we going?”I asked. I was tripping my brains out. Jimmy tells me we’re going to Lou’s to pick up a case. So I’m sitting back there saying to myself, “OK, this is OK. Jimmy wouldn’t do anything to put you in danger. Jimmy’s your friend. This is OK.” And we’re in like a fuckin’ wind tunnel.”—Read In the Ravine by Alec Solomita.
“He clung to Suzy. “At least the wine is good,” she said. They weren’t really mingling. They were doing something that was more like a stiff list, a drift and sway. The acoustics made it impossible to speak normally and so they found themselves shouting inanities then just falling mute. The noise of the place was deafening as a sea, and the booming heartiness of others seemed to destroy all possibility of happiness for themselves.”—
Ritter answered. He was big, one of those fat men who don’t really have any fat, a corrections officer, as I was soon to learn, and a former heavyweight wrestler. He could burst a pineapple in his armpit and chuckle about it (or so I assume). Haircut: military. Mustache: faint. “We’re just a bunch of West Virginia guys on fire for Christ,” he said. “I’m Ritter, and this is Darius, Jake, Bub, and that’s Jake’s brother, Josh. Pee Wee’s around here somewhere.”
"Chasin’ tail," said Darius disdainfully.
"So you guys have just been hanging out here, saving lives?"
"We’re from West Virginia," said Darius again, like maybe he thought I was thick. It was he who most often spoke for the group. The projection of his jaw from the lump of snuff he kept there made him come off a bit contentious, but I felt sure he was just high-strung.
And there is Samantha, sitting in an idling Impala, a boxy number from the sixties. She’s smoking a cigarette and chewing gum, her hair streaked blond and clumped, like she’s been driving all day. I guess she’s been waiting for me. She slides over and opens the passenger door.
I get in and she puts the car in gear. That’s all it takes—just stepping off the curb, into a car, and it’s the two of us once again.
“You know what I don’t get?”
No hellos, no catching up. It’s always like this.
“I don’t get why there are no dog petting zoos.” She rolls down the window and lets her arm hang out. “Then nobody would have to be responsible for one full time. We could just pay our money and go into a yard full of really nice, fluffy golden retrievers and dachshund puppies or whatever.”
“For the 22 days of its existence, the balloon offered the possibility, in its randomness, of getting lost, of losing oneself, in contradistinction to the grid of precise, rectangular pathways under our feet.”—
Ruth was not particularly extravagant, In contrast to Carolyn,
who spent her allowance the day she received it usually on a
scarf or a baggy sweater, despite the fact that her dresser
drawers were filled with scarves and sweaters but Mrs.
Bridge did not approve of Ruth’s taste. Her allowance was apt
to go for a necklace, or a sheer blouse, or a pair of extreme
earrings. The earrings were impossible. Mrs. Bridge, whose
preference in earrings tended toward the inconspicuous, such
as a moderately set pearl, tried to restrain herself whenever she
caught sight of Ruth wearing something unusually objection-
able, but there was one morning when she appeared for
breakfast in Mexican huaraches, Japanese silk pajamas with
the sleeves rolled up displaying a piece of adhesive tape
where she had cut herself while shaving her forearms, blue
horn-rimmed reading glasses, and for earrings a cluster of tiny
golden bells that tinkled whenever she moved. She might have
gotten by that morning except for the fact that as she ate she
steadily relaxed and contracted her feet so that the huaraches
"Now see here, young lady," Mrs. Bridge said with more au-
thority than she felt, as she dropped a slice of bread into the
automatic toaster. “In the morning one doesn’t wear earrings
that dangle. People will think you’re something from another
"So?" said Ruth without looking up from the newspaper.
"Just what do you mean by that?"
"So who cares?"
"I care, that’s who!" Mrs. Bridge cried, suddenly very close
to hysteria, “I care very much!”
1. Two 100% cotton knit tops, multi-colored nubby boat neck and smooth cream scooped with large buttons down the front. The tiny curtained cubicle, I have tried on four things, the ones I want disappear down Lizzie’s tan pants. Then she switches the four-item tag with a two-item one that happens to be in her purse. Standing in the hall so the clerk is sure to hear, she yells, “Hurry up, I’ll meet you in the car.”
“Franklin Fletcher dreamed of luxury in the form of tiger skins and beautiful women. He was prepared, at a pinch, to forgo the tiger skins. Unfortunately, the beautiful women seemed equally rare and inaccessible. At his office and at his boardinghouse, the girls were mere mice, or cattish, or kittenish, or had insufficiently read the advertisements. He met no others. At thirty-five he gave up, and decided he must console himself with a hobby, which is a very miserable second best.”—
“Red Green was lying on the couch wearing a dirty flannel shirt and a pair of jeans, with logger’s boots. He had red hair and a thin face, the type of face you get from too many cigarettes and drugs and not enough food. The fireplace was going full blast, the flames providing the only light in the room. As close to the fire as he could get without being burned was a long, brown, shorthaired dog. He was a pretty big dog, probably close to a hundred pounds. He had a blanket over his butt and he was shaking, his collar and tags jingling. The dog was a new addition since my last visit. I nodded at Red and he pointed to the table on my left. I pulled a chair out and sat down and smoked a fair amount of hash and angel dust before I turned to speak to him.”—Read Ball Lightning Reported In The Northeast Kingdom by Scott Wolven