OYE What I’m Gonna Tell You

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My mother’s mother used to say that it took four generations to get the black out.

-Cecilia Rodriguez Milanes, “The Law of Progress,”  in OYE What I’m Gonna Tell You: Stories

The Captive Condition

During the quiet hours after midnight on New Year’s Day, the ghosts of Normandy Falls, manacled like felons to the tomb, temporarily escaped the totalitarian scrutiny of heaven and the moldering prison house of death, and from the forlorn churchyard near the square and the untilled fields in the valley, they assembled under the light of a spectral moon and resolved to haunt those who had denied them love.

-Kevin P. Keating, The Captive Condition: A Novel

Songs for the Deaf

His father was a disgraced steamboat pilot with a knack for grounding boats and destroying docks, his mother the thin-lipped illegitimate daughter of a beefy prostitute.

-John Henry Fleming, “A Charmed Life,” in Songs for the Deaf: Stories

House Keys Not Handcuffs & Much, Much More

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“Far too many Americans avoid contact with homeless people, whom they regard as distasteful and inconvenient—unpleasant reminders of the huge gap in wealth and privilege in this country. Conservatives (and many others) like to tell themselves that homeless people are there by choice, simply because of their unwillingness to work hard, defer gratification and live according to society’s rules and standards.” Here‘s House Keys Not Handcuffs.

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.” Here.

“In a near-future West devastated by climate change, the Rockies are nearly bare of snow, the Colorado River tapped dry long before it reaches Mexico. California is buying up upstream water rights as Nevada and Arizona battle it out for the remaining trickle.” Here‘s a review of The Water Knife.

Here‘s Knuckleball: The History of the Unhittable Pitch: “Because a knuckler doesn’t spin, it’s entirely unpredictable. ‘The wind currents make the ball bob around like a Whiffle ball and it might break two or three different times on the way to the plate,  [Charlie] Hough says. As a result, the pitcher and the catcher — let alone the hitter — have no idea where the ball is going. ‘It has a mind of its own,’ explains former big leaguer Tom Candiotti.”

“Acclaimed author Harper Lee announced through her publisher Tuesday the surprise release of her third novel, My Excellent Caretaker Deserves My Entire Fortune.” Here.

Ah, book reviewing. Here.

“What’s fascinating is that [Daniel] Kahneman’s [Thinking, Fast and Slow] work explicitly swims against the current of human thought. Not even he believes that the various flaws that bedevil decision-making can be successfully corrected. The most damaging of these is overconfidence: the kind of optimism that leads governments to believe that wars are quickly winnable and capital projects will come in on budget despite statistics predicting exactly the opposite. It is the bias he says he would most like to eliminate if he had a magic wand.” Here.

Refund

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Anna Green could not afford the tickets to Surfview High’s twentieth reunion, but she walked into the Mercury Ballroom, anyway, to meet her classmates.

-Karen E. Bender, “Reunion,” in Refund: Stories

Nabokov in America

Late in March 1950, [Nabokov] read newspaper reports of a sensational crime. An unemployed auto mechanic, Frank La Salle, had abducted an eleven-year-old girl named Sally Horner and kept her for two years as his sex slave, traveling from New Jersey to California by way of Texas, before being apprehended in a San Jose auto court. La Salle was described as a “hawk-faced…sex criminal” with “a long record of morals offenses,” and Sally was a “plump little girl” and “a nice looking youngster, with light brown hair and green eyes.” The second part of Lolita, the schema for it, had been handed him.

-Robert Roper, Nabokov in America: On the Road to Lolita

Family Furnishings

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When I was five years old my parents all of a sudden produced a baby boy, which my mother said was what I had always wanted.

-Alice Munro, “The Eye,” in Family Furnishings: Selected Stories, 1995-2014

Lucky Us

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My father’s wife died. My mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us.

-Amy Bloom, Lucky Us: A Novel

Meanwhile There Are Letters & Much More

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“[Eudora] Welty and [Ross] Macdonald saw each other in person only sparingly. They met for the first time, almost by happenstance, at New York’s Algonquin Hotel in the fall of 1971. Welty visited him in Santa Barbara three times. It’s not a lot on which to build a case for a serious love affair.” Here‘s a review of Meanwhile There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald.

“The triumph of ‘Pickwick’ – and [Stephen] Jarvis argues that it was the greatest triumph in English literature, the most popular, recognizable, and widely translated book next to the Bible – all belonged to Dickens.” Here‘s a review of Death and Mr. Pickwick.

The little-known and devastating tale of a young man who, only a century ago, was captured in the Congo and put on display — like an animal — in the Bronx Zoo Monkey House.” Here‘s a review of Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga.

Here‘s James Neff [Vendetta: Bobby Kennedy versus Jimmy Hoffa]:“They really, really hated each other. [Jimmy] Hoffa embarrassed [Bobby] Kennedy. He went out of his way to do so. He was a master manipulator, a master negotiator, and he would use whatever tool he could get. And humiliating, taking the starch out of somebody, belittling them – that was right up his alley. And Kennedy was determined not to lose.”

“How Did I Get Here?, by turns hilarious, profound, and unexpected, leaves us to understand that while our lives may have wound up on a different shore than the one we’d set our sights on, that’s not such a bad thing. The only possible us is the us who happened.” Here.

The Harder They Come

There was no slant to the sun–it was just there, overhead, burning, making him sweat, making his underwear bind and the shirt stick to his back as if it had been glued on, and why he’d ever let Carolee talk him into this he’d never know.

-T.C. Boyle, The Harder They Come: A Novel