Dispatches from Pluto


I was living in New York City when I decided to buy an old plantation house in the Mississippi Delta.

-Richard Grant, Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta

Strangers Drowning & Much More


“If you hold yourself responsible for strangers, the need becomes infinite. This is a very difficult thing. They feel responsible for the world but simultaneously they have to narrow down what they can do. They are not some different species of aliens or freaks. They’re just people who have decided it is incumbent upon them to do more to help strangers. It’s inspiring but it’s also overwhelming to see that impulse in action.” Here‘s New Yorker writer Larissa MacFarquhar (Strangers Drowning).

“Rad American Women A-Z is an alphabet book with a difference. Though each page illustrates a different letter — starting with A, for Angela Davis, and ending with Z, for Zora Neale Hurston — and the graphics are bright and engaging, the lives depicted have long been left out of children’s history books. They are scientists, poets, pilots and activists from a wide range of backgrounds and historic eras. Half are women of color. They all persevered against challenging odds.” Here‘s the first children’s book for City Lights Books.

I’ve always felt homeless.” Here‘s Sandra Cisneros (A House of My Own).

“What We’re Fighting For Now Is Each Other emphasizes that the movement making all this noise is quite different from—indeed, an implicit rebuke of—the big environmental organizations headquartered in Washington, D.C. Groups such as Environmental Defense, National Wildlife Federation, and The Nature Conservancy boast multimillion-dollar budgets, preach bipartisan collaboration, and occasionally even partner with corporate polluters. By contrast, the climate justice movement grew out of “front line struggles” waged by the kind of grassroots groups profiled in this book and indigenous peoples, such as the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, a tribal government in Alaska active in the fight against Shell. National coordination has come from 350.org, the group author Bill McKibben co-founded with students of his from Middlebury College after concluding that the traditional environmental movement had plenty of lawyers, scientists, and well-heeled supporters but lacked the people power that animates a genuine social movement.” Here.

“Over the past 60-plus years, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have invested unfathomable amounts of money to ensure that people crave their core products. And that investment has often come in forms far more devious than most would imagine, [Marion] Nestle argues.” Here‘s a review of Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning).

Book of Numbers


If you’re reading this on a screen, fuck off.

-Joshua Cohen, Book of Numbers: A Novel

The Making of Home


In the 1960s, builders renovating a house in north London found, bricked up behind a fireplace, a basket holding two shoes, a candlestick and a drinking vessel, as well as the skeletons of two chickens that had been walled up alive, and two more that had been strangled first: votive offerings to the house-gods of the sixteenth century, resurfacing in the twentieth. Houses, according to myth, folk tale and legend, have souls, and possibly even minds. While we may no longer subscribe to these beliefs on a conscious level, many small rituals based on those beliefs were performed until recently: clocks were stopped and mirrors veiled on the death of a member of the household, while on the day of a funeral window blinds were habitually drawn, covering the house’s ‘eyes.’

-Judith Flanders, The Making of Home: The 500-Year Story of How Our Houses Became Our Homes

The Fellowship

During the hectic middle decades of the twentieth century, from the end of the Great Depression through World War II and into the 1950s, a small circle of intellectuals gathered on a weekly basis in and around Oxford University to drink, smoke, quip, cavil, read aloud their works in progress, and endure or enjoy with as much grace as they could muster the sometimes blistering critiques that followed.

-Philip Zaleski & Carol Zaleski, The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield. Charles Williams


I enjoyed listening to stories about faraway places so much that it became a kind of sickness.

-Haruki Murakami, Pinball, 1973, in Wind/Pinball: Two Novels


Buckley and Mailer

It was late fall, and the old man awoke in a sour mood.

-Kevin M. Schultz, Buckley and Mailer:The Difficult Friendship That Shaped the Sixties


The Anger Meridian

A persistent four-toned gong rings in my ears and I am suddenly back in the dusty courtyard of the Ecole de Sainte Therese de Lisieux in Cameroon and the church bell is announcing the end of the school day.

-Kaylie Jones, The Anger Meridian

Music for Wartime

In the fourth week of drought, at the third and final performance of the Roundabout Traveling Circus, the elephant keeled over dead.

-Rebecca Makkai, “The Miracle Years of Little Fork,” in Music for Wartime: Stories


The Secret History of the Blitz & Much More


Here‘s Joshua Levine’s The Secret History of the Blitz: “A first-class portrait of that traumatic and tragic time, conveyed largely through the words of those who experienced it. Spiced with sexual and criminal statistics, Levine reveals a Britain of loose morals, opportunistic pilfering and cheating, and hedonistic pleasure, alongside the more familiar virtues of courage and community.”

Italo Calvino. Here.

“You never know who you are brushing shoulders with at any time and in any place. It just might be someone with a collection of masks made of human flesh in his basement. No joke. That’s scary in itself, but it’s so scary that we can’t allow ourselves to contemplate it. A lot of things are too much to let into our consciousness.” Here‘s Thomas Ligotti (Songs of a Dead Dreamer).

“From early on, [Joyce Carol Oates]  was blessed and cursed with a penetrating understanding of human weaknesses and struggles, as well as the perpetually darting imagination that gave rise to her art as well as to lifelong restlessness and insomnia. (Her descriptions of how she wanders outside in the wee of the night are downright spooky.)” Here‘s a review of The Lost Landscape: A Writer’s Coming of Age).

Keep dying! Keep writing it down!Here‘s the late poet C.K. Williams.