Green Hills of Africa

We were sitting in the blind that Wanderobo hunters had built of twigs and branches at the edge of the salt-lick when we heard the truck coming.

-Ernest Hemingway, Green Hills of Africa: The Hemingway Library Edition


Beneath the Bonfire

They squatted in an abandoned Pentecostal church high on the bluffs over a river, and when the rain or snow was heavy, the roof leaked and the church was loud with the dripping of water in metal buckets, and when the land was dry beneath the floorboards of the church, hundreds of rattlesnakes shook their maracas at the heat and only at night would the place fall into silence.

-Nickolas Butler, “The Chainsaw Soiree,” in Beneath the Bonfire: Stories

Destruction Was My Beatrice & More


“A marvelous history of the non-art non-movement that dynamited complacency and conventionality across Europe and across the Atlantic in New York for a few heady years during and after World War I.” Here‘s a review of Destruction Was My Beatrice: Dada and the Unmaking of the Twentieth Century.

Here’s Michael Dirda’s latest: “Browsings is as much about living with books, about serendipitous discovery, as about the boundless pleasures of reading. Dirda is, and encourages us to be, unabashedly promiscuous about books, exploring the realm of letters within and beyond our comfort zones, recognizing that this domain is greater than the bestseller lists, cultivating a taste for the quirky and arcane, and embracing the obscure as readily as the renowned.”

The Ghost Network, like a great pop song, is an intricate system and a lavish spectacle at the same time.” Here.

“The justification for the bomb has been that it avoided a million American lives. And this is just absolute fabrication, and a post facto justification for using the bomb. The invasion of Japan was effectively shelved in early July, two weeks before the bomb was tested. So it was never a case of either the bomb or invasion. But it’s convenient now to resurrect that bogus equation because it gives everyone a nice little feeling that we did it to save American lives…” Here‘s Hiroshima, Nagasaki: The Real Story of the Atomic Bombings and Their Aftermath.



Mess & Much More


Here‘s Barry Yourgrau (Mess: One Man’s Struggle to Clean Up His House and His Act): “When I was a kid…I really became very attached to objects. There seems to be some kind of a developmental stall in people who have hoarding problems, particularly, but clutter problems, too, and they get some connection to objects that other people don’t. And I realized that I establish objects as kind of avatars of myself, and they start to have sort of magical qualities, too. So for instance, I could never loan people pens that I considered my pens.”

Weird jobs of famous authors. Here.

Says novelist  Anne Enright (The Green Road): “I love Ireland. It is my home, but you know, I sometimes feel I have been trying to leave all my life, and never made it. But I don’t know if writers ever are properly in the place where they live, they’re always in a slight state of exile.” Here.

“There’s something called the Lavender Scare…which actually has gotten short shrift in the popular imagination. Along with the hunt for communists – in fact, it was said often, commies and queers – there was no less energetic a hunt to root out what were called perverts and perverts of all kinds from the federal government. In fact, about a week after McCarthy held up his fake list of communists in the State Department, it was revealed that there were also homosexuals in the State Department. This was back in around 1950.” Here‘s  Eric Berkowitz (The Boundaries of Desire: A Century of Good Sex, Bad Laws, and Changing Identities)

Ross MacDonald’s novel Black Money set for Coen Brothers film. Here.




Street Poison & Much, Much More


“You could probably say that Iceberg Slim is better known in the popular consciousness through his by-products than by his actual works,” says Justin Gifford (Street Poison: The Biography of Iceberg Slim). “When it comes to him writing Pimp, that had a direct impact on blaxploitation films of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, partly because of his novel Trick Baby being made into a blaxploitation film. White screenwriters would often lift things directly out of his books, whether characters or the lingo he used or the streetwise style of his books. You could think about his books as the literary equivalent, and cornerstone of, the blaxploitating genre.” Here.

The corporate hell in which young drones toil in faceless buildings, sorting meaningless files according to inscrutable policies.” Here’s a review of Helen Phillips’ novel The Beautiful Bureaucrat.

Here‘s Frederick Law Olmsted.

Here‘s The Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector: “For the first time in any language, readers can turn to a single volume for all the short stories by the twentieth-century Brazilian writer affectionately known by her unusual first name, that enigmatic woman born in a small village in the Ukraine in 1920 to Jewish parents who fled the country when she was barely a year old.”

“In which the greatest of American writers goes into the night—and not such a good night at that, and not at all gently.” Here‘s Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 3

John Buchan’s Thirty-Nine Steps at 100. Listen here.

“Most rumors arise spontaneously in a cauldron of uncertainty and fear that typify times of financial crisis, political turmoil, and war. The construction and circulation of rumors provides a degree of certainty which reduces tensions. Humans can deal with just about anything, but they cannot cope with uncertainty.” Here‘s A Colorful History of Popular Delusions.


A Manual for Cleaning Women

I like working in Emergency–you meet men there, anyway.

-Lucia Berlin, “My Jockey,” in A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories


Sam Phillips

In later years Sam Phillips would always refer to the moment of his arrival on this earth with a wonderment not altogether free of caustic amusement.

-Peter Guralnick, Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock’n'Roll


Something Rich and Strange

I never cared for Wesley Davidson when he was alive and seeing him beside me laid out dead didn’t much change that.

-Ron Rash, “Dead Confederates,” in Something Rich and Strange: Selected Stories

The Witch of Lime Street

A woman in a black velvet coat pushed through the revolving doors of the Grosvenor Hotel and waving a miniature Union Jack in each hand waltzed slowly around the marble hall.

-David Jaher, The Witch of Lime Street: Seance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World

The Map of Chaos

The debate was due to commence in fifteen minutes when they glimpsed the Palace of Knowledge silhouetted against the golden canvas of twilight.

-Felix J. Palma, The Map of Chaos: A Novel