The Galapagos

For the US forces stationed on Baltra during World War II, the Galapagos was about as far from paradise as they could imagine.

-Henry Nicholls, The Galapagos: A Natural History


Dreaming for Freud

He sits at his desk in his study, sucking on his cigar.

-Sheila Kohler, Dreaming for Freud: A Novel



I no longer know if I ever fall asleep.

-Cesar Aira, Conversations


Empire of Sin

Shortly after eleven o’clock on a bright November morning, a handsome middle-aged man dashed up to the front door of the brothel at 172 Customhouse Street in the French Quarter and let himself in with a key.

-Gary Krist, Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans


Ice Cold

We’re down in the bomb shelter alphabetizing the canned foods so we can find what we’re looking for during an invasion or nuclear attack.

-T. Jefferson Parker, “Side Effects,” in Mystery Writers of America Presents Ice Cold: Tales of Intrigue from the Cold War edited by Jeffery Deaver and Raymond Benson


The Pleasures of Being Out of Step

I learned something from Duke Ellington when I was a kid, in my early twenties. He said, ‘Don’t ever get caught up in categories.’ You know, people are talking about ‘modern’ jazz.  He said, ‘Talk about the individual musician.’ And after that, it occurred to me: What counts is [that] what you believe is factually able to be proved, whatever that comes out to be.

-Nat Hentoff in The Pleasures of Being Out of Step: Nat Hentoff on Journalism, Jazz and the First Amendment, An Oral History edited by David L. Lewis


Founders as Fathers

At first glance, Virginia planters seem like highly unlikely candidates for fomenting a revolution.

-Lorri Glover, Founders as Fathers: The Private Lives and Politics of the American Revolutionaries


American Innovations

I was at home, not making spaghetti.

-Rivka Galchen, “The Lost Order,” in American Innovations:



Family Dancing

Neil’s mother, Mrs. Campbell, sits on her lawn chair behind a card table outside the food co-op.

-David Leavitt, “Territory,” in Family Dancing: Stories


The News

It doesn’t come with any instructions, because it’s meant to be the most normal, easy, obvious and unremarkable activity in the world, like breathing or blinking.

-Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual