A Distant Father

I’m the village schoolmaster.

-Antonio Skarmeta, A Distant Father


Ray Bradbury

I want to teach people, all of you, the power of love.  I wrote a poem recently called “Doing Is Being.” Don’t think about doing–do.  Become a Zen Buddhist. Don’t think about things. Do them. Make a list of your loves and behave with all those loves and become the lover of the world.

-Ray Bradbury, “The Temperature at Which Books Burn,” in Ray Bradbury: The Last Interview and Other Conversations, edited by Sam Weller


Nothing ever happens in this city.

-Melania G. Mazzucco, Limbo: A Novel


Midnight in Europe

On a soft, winter evening in Manhattan, the fifteenth of December, 1937, it started to snow; big flakes spun lazily in the sky, danced in the lights of office buildings, then melted as they hit the pavement.

-Alan Furst, Midnight in Europe: A Novel


On the steps of the old mission house, the sergeant sat with the boy who called himself Robin, and watched a pigeon being swallowed by a pelican.

-Nick Harkaway, Tigerman: A Novel


The Three-Body Problem

The Red Union had been attacking the headquarters of the April Twenty-eighth Brigade for two days.

-Cixin Liu, The Three-Body Problem


A History of New York in 101 Objects

New York could survive–even thrive–without being the nation’s capital; it couldn’t become a burgeoning metropolis without drinking water.

-Sam Roberts, “17. Water Pipe: A Legacy of Liquidity,” in A History of New York in 101 Objects


The Girl on the Train & More

“The train went really close by apartments, so you could see in. I never saw anything shocking, but I wondered, if you saw anything out of the ordinary, an act of violence, who would you tell and would anyone believe you?” Here‘s British author Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train).


All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Here.

“The Goldilocks of short narratives.” Here‘s Edith Pearlman (Honeydew: Stories).

“The city felt like a pinball table, like I might slip between the sewer grates and become lost to the game.” Here‘s Jac Jemc’s new collection A Different Bed Every Time.


The Public Library

A librarian named Miss Truman Richey snatched me from the jaws of ruin, and it’s too late now to thank her.

-Barbara Kingsolver, “How Mr. Dewey Decimal Saved My Life,” in The Public Library: A Photographic Essay by Robert Dawson, with a foreword by Bill Moyers, an afterword by Ann Patchett, and with reflections by Isaac Asimov, Anne Lamott, Philip Levine, Dr. Seuss, Charles Simic, Amy Tan, E.B. White, and  others

Soul of the Fire & So Much More


“One of the most moving mysteries of the year.” Here‘s Eliot Pattison’s Soul of the Fire.

“When we look back on the mass-market-paperback phenomenon it’s hard to keep the Emily Brontës separate from the Mickey Spillanes.” Here.

“Nora and Gordon continue their quick banter, funny and loving. We like them. They’re good together—and not just when they’re standing up. A minute later the two engage in some terrific, earth-moving sex. It makes us feel great, horny, and envious.” Here.

“Describing William Deresiewicz’s Excellent Sheep as a book about higher education is a bit like calling Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle a story about meat. Yes, Sinclair was writing about meat, but he was also writing about regulation, corruption, poverty and the failures of the state.” Here.

I don’t remember the exact date when I went to live in Doris Lessing’s house in Charrington Street, north of King’s Cross.Here.

“When people ask me if it’s ‘cathartic’ to write this sort of material, I don’t know whether to laugh or to throw something at them. It’s not cathartic in the least.” Here‘s Meghan Daum (The Unspeakable).

“An idiosyncratic, free-associative memoir of cultural consumptionand a fervent ‘thank you’ to a country and culture that haven’t always been welcomed by the world.” Here‘s Peter Conrad’s How the World Was Won: The Americanization of Everything.

“Few working poor have the luxury of indignation. Enervated by swing shifts, cash shortfalls and too little sleep, they are badgered by the American creed that anyone who works hard can prosper, and many internalize the belief that those who don’t prosper are themselves to blame.” Here‘s a review of Linda Tirado’s Hand to Mouth.