The Internet of Us


Imagine a society where smartphones are miniaturized and hooked directly into a person’s brain. With a single mental command, those who have this technology–let’s call it neuromedia–can access information on any subject. Want to know the capital of Bulgaria or the average flight velocity of a swallow? It’s right there.

-Patrick Lynch, The Internet of Us: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data

Nothing Ever Dies


Drive along the highways of Vietnam for any extended distance and you may notice, if you are looking for them, the cemeteries abutting the roads.

-Viet Thanh Nguyen, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War

My Southern Journey


The trains may seem longer in the city, as the traffic piles up at the crossings and the freight cars squeal and clatter but barely crawl, and all there is to do is sit, and sit, and maybe try and decipher the graffiti on the endless iron boxes from broad-shouldered places like Pittsburgh, and Cleveland, places that make you think of rust and trains.

-Rick Bragg, “Red Dirt,” in My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South

Heart of a Lion


Half past midnight, June 11, 2011, on a highway seventy miles outside New York City, a mountain lion met his death on the fender of a northbound car.

-William Stolzenberg, Heart of a Lion: A Lone Cat’s Walk Across America

Crash Course


The only person in my home who thinks about words more than I do is my younger daughter. Here I sit, struggling day after day to find the language I need–because I chose to be a writer, and that’s what we writers do. And there is my daughter, struggling through her every waking hour to find the right words–because she has an expressive language disability and she has no choice.

-Robin Black, “Something We Share, Something We Don’t,” in Crash Course: Essays From Where Writing and Life Collide



My first celebrity crush was Kim Novak, in Picnic. There is a scene where she and William Holden stare at each other, clapping their hands to some fairly hot music. They don’t dance, just clap and stare. What was I doing in that movie theater, watching that movie? I can’t remember, but someone must have just hauled me along. One of my aunts, maybe, stuck on babysitting duty.

-Stephen King, “Beautiful,” in Crush: Writers Reflect on Love, Longing, and the Lasting Power of Their First Celebrity Crush edited by Cathy Alter and Dave Singleton

Night Life


New Year’s Eve 1953. A good year, 1953, all in all. That shit head Stalin is finally dead. And those commie spies, the Rosenbergs, went to the hot squat at Sing Sing. The Korean War is over, though maybe that didn’t work out as well as it should have. But it’s over.

-David C. Taylor, Night Life: A Michael Cassidy Novel

I Don’t Like Where This Is Going


That afternoon, when the unthinkable happened, my friend Bay and I were enjoying cocktails in the atrium of the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas. Although, as Bay informed me, here on the Strip, we’re not technically in Vegas. We’re in Paradise.

-John Dufresne, I Don’t Like Where This Is Going: A Wylie Coyote Novel

Paid For


Drug and alcohol abuse are endemic. We are all used to the stereotype of the heroin addict who enters street prostitution to feed her habit. This happens in prostitution, I’ve seen it; but what I’ve seen far more regularly is women developing addictions in prostitution that they never had in the first place, usually to alcohol, valium and other prescription sedatives, and to cocaine. These substances are used to numb the simple awfulness of having sexual intercourse with reams of sexually repulsive strangers, all of whom are abusive on some level, whether they know it or not, and many of whom are deliberately so.

-Rachel Moran, Paid For: May Journey Through Prostitution

Now Go Out There


My much-loved oil worker daddy had a stroke and lay paralyzed for five years. My mother married seven times. During a psychotic break, she once tried to kill me with a butcher knife then disappeared for months in an asylum. I also ran afoul of pedophiles twice as a girl. Not a childhood people wish for.

-Mary Karr, Now Go Out There: (and Get Curious)