You May See A Stranger & More

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“There’s nothing else I can do,” says fiction writer Paula Whyman (You May See A Stranger). “Except, I do hope that I’m a good parent! I think I became a writer because I’m interested in everything; it was impossible to choose one subject.”

“It’s obvious that the Obama presidency has unleashed virulent and unashamedly racist forces that are gathering around buffoonish villains who seem straight out of 1930s agitprop,” says Eliot Weinberger (The Ghosts of Birds). “White people will soon lose their majority in the USA. Obama is the most visible sign of this inevitable future, and it’s driving certain people crazy, especially in the Confederate and cowboy states. The way this president has been treated by the Republican Party is sickening and unprecedented. Luckily, time and demographics will erase them.”

A work to be savored if you have the discipline, but more likely devoured if, like me, you simply can’t put it downThe Mirror Thief is an astonishing debut novel of immense literary depth.”

[Viet Thanh Nguyen's] Nothing Ever Dies is one man’s powerful entreaty to a country which has seen nearly endless conflict (one war running upon the next) for generations.”

The Rope

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I checked my watch, over and over again, determined to catch the precise moment when the lever would be released. I still almost missed it, the trapdoor clanging open before he had finished reciting his prayers.

-Kanan Makiya, The Rope: A Novel

My Confection

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I awaken after another night of debauchery. A bag of Pepperidge Farm chocolate-filled Milano cookies, two sesame bagels with peanut butter, a bag of peanut M&Ms, a pint of mint chocolate chip, and cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. Not the fake Velveeta crap. I was raised in a health-food house. I avoid junk food.

-Lisa Kotin, My Confection: Odyssey of a Sugar Addict

Burning Down the House

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It begins with a child. She lives far away from any city, high up in the mountains. She sits by a fire. Light turns in crazy pinwheels on her soft young cheeks. Wind blows and the moonlit clouds go wild, an armada of wayward ships.

-Jane Mendelsohn, Burning Down the House: A Novel

Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life

What is the most important difference between human beings and other living creatures? A larger brain? Upright posture? The power of speech? I would maintain that it is the possession of a conscience, the innate awareness that some things are wrong and should not be done.

-Harold S. Kushner, Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life

Why They Run the Way They Do

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They’d made it through all the Michaels, Carrie and Dan believed, made it through Michael Jordan and Michael Douglas and Michael Moore and Michael J. Fox, made it through the terrible summer when Michael Phelps won all those gold medals in swimming, and then the next terrible summer when Michael Jackson died on every channel for days and days, dodged a bullet when Michaels, the crafts store, canceled plans to open in their town (that would have been hell–Dan drives by that strip mall every day on his way to work).

-Susan Perabo, “Michael the Armadillo,” in Why They Run the Way They Do: Stories

Sunday’s on the Phone to Monday

Mathilde’s father, James Spicer, had been the last person she’d known to use a shoehorn and a handkerchief, archaic tools gone the way of arrowheads and telegrams. He’d been an art dealer. Mathilde’s father, who’d been polite when sober, was square-headed with big and fat feet. Who’d worn a camel-colored coat and hat, which he’d always tip in elevators. Mathilde’s father, who’d smelled like ash, pastrami, and melancholy.

-Christine Reilly, Sunday’s on the Phone to Monday: A Novel

Movie Stars

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No matter how I search my memory, I cannot recall when Sandy Baker Jr., bartender at the Green Bear, first mentioned in passing that his cousin in Hollywood was a high-level “animal wrangler”–a gruesome phrase for a noble profession!

-Jack Pendarvis, “Your Cat Can Be a Movie Star!” in Movie Stars: Stories

Night Walking

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In the dead of night, in spite of the electric lights and the remnants of night life, London is an alien city, especially if you are strolling through its lanes and thoroughfares alone.

-Matthew Beaumont, Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London, Chaucer to Dickens, with a foreword and afterword by Will Self

The Borden Murders

Lizzie could hardly look past the blood, there was so much of it. Blood soaked Mr. Borden’s neatly folded Prince Albert coat. It dripped from the slick horsehair cushions to the flowered carpet below. It arced in a fine spatter across the wall and picture frame above. In the midst of it all, her father lay stretched out on the couch with his face so carved and bloodied that she did not know whether he was alive or dead. “I did not notice anything else, I was so frightened and horrified. I ran to the foot of the stairs and called Maggie.”

-Sarah Miller, The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden & the Trial of the Century