There’s Something I Want You to Do

When she was a teenager, her junior year, her favorite trick involved riding in cars with at least two other girls.

-Charles Baxter, “Bravery,” in There’s Something I Want You to Do: Stories


The Age of Acquiescence

When the railroad threatened to come to Lancaster, Ohio, back in the mid-1840s, the local school board greeted the prospect as a looming moral disaster.

-Steve Fraser, The Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organized Wealth and Power


Mourning Lincoln & More


“Oh, Mr. Clapp, there is a policeman downstairs, and he says President Lincoln has been killed.” Here’s Mourning Lincoln.

“Being a writer isn’t like being a movie star,” [Anne] Tyler says, “and you realise being famous is not what you imagined it to be. To have somebody ring your doorbell and say, ‘I have to talk with you. May I come in?’ It hasn’t happened very often, but it’s unsettling.” Here.

Nothing is innocent, and nobody is what he or she seems.” Here‘s that new noir Serpents in the Cold.

Here‘s Jonathan Franzen: “People don’t want moral complexity. Moral complexity is a luxury. You might be forced to read it in school, but a lot of people have hard lives. They come home at the end of the day, they feel they’ve been jerked around by the world yet again for another day. The last thing they want to do is read Alice Munro, who is always pointing toward the possibility that you’re not the heroic figure you think of yourself as, that you might be the very dubious figure that other people think of you as.”

Chasing the Scream

Almost one hundred years after the start of the war on drugs, I found myself stuck on one of its more minor battlefields.

-Johann Hari, Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs


A Small Indiscretion

London, the year I turned twenty.

-Jan Ellison, A Small Indiscretion: A Novel


White Man’s Problems

If you go back through the tunnel of time to when basketball was holy, you will find that Mike Donegan scored thirty-six points against Cardinal O’Hara in the Southeastern Pennsylvania Diocese championship game of 1966.

Kevin Morris, “Here Comes Mike,” in White Man’s Problems: Stories


Let Me Be Frank With You

Strange fragrances ride the twitchy, wintry air at The Shore this morning, two weeks before Christmas.

-Richard Ford, “I’m Here,” in Let Me Be Frank With You: A Frank Bascombe Book



Send the boy to Apollonia.

-John Williams, Augustus (New York Review Books Classics)


The Woman Who Borrowed Memories

On a windless day in November, shortly after sunrise, she saw a squirrel on the boat beach.

-Tove Jansson, “The Squirrel,” in The Woman Who Borrowed Memories: Selected Stories


Sweet Nothing

Puppet shooting that baby comes into my head again, like a match flaring in the dark, this time while I’m wiping down the steam tables after the breakfast rush at the hospital.

-Richard Lange, “Baby Killer,” in Sweet Nothing: Stories