Twisted River

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She would never have fit as neatly into the trunk of his own car. He presses two fingers against her beautiful neck. Just in case. No pulse. The blow was fatal. He looks at her one last time and closes the trunk.

-Siobhan MacDonald, Twisted River: A Novel

War Porn

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A private in Attack Battery got killed by an IED. At the ceremony, we stood in formation while the chaplain read from the Bible and some soldiers got up and talked about what a great guy the dead kid was. Lieutenant Colonel Braddock stood and told us how important it was that we were doing the job we were doing and how important it was to bring democracy to Iraq, and most important, how we were defending American freedom from the terrorists who hated our way of life.

-Roy Scranton, War Porn: A Novel

A Hero of France

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Occupied Paris, the tenth day of March, 1941.

At eight-twenty in the evening, the man known to his Resistance cell as Mathieu waited in a doorway where he could watch the entry of the Metro station on the Boulevard Richard-Lenoir.

-Alan Furst, A Hero of France: A Novel

The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe

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Mayor Pamela Winchell announced again today that she is stepping down as mayor later this year. This is the four announcement this week. She said again through tight teeth that this is totally her call and was never ever discussed in a room with no windows by small men wearing large pelts and decorative soft-meat crowns. That is not how we do things, she said. That is not how we do things, she whispered. That is how we do things, she mouthed silently as a single, dark red tear formed in the corner of her eye and then slowly rolled down her taut, olive cheek and onto her clay-stained smock.

-Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor, The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe: Welcome to Night Vale Episodes, Volume 2

Diane Arbus

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Glimpsed from afar, Central Park was a peaceful expanse of green lawns, spreading trees and craggy rocks. But up close, seven-year-old Diane Nemerov faced something else, something alien….the small girl stared in fascinated bewilderment at a shantytown of shacks made of sheet metal and cardboard. It was 1930. Over a hollow that once held the city’s thirty-five-acre reservoir spread New York’s most conspicuous Hooverville, an ugly boil at the start of the Great Depression.

-Arthur Lubow, Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer

The Jealous Kind

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There was a time in my life when I woke every morning with fear and anxiety and did not know why. For me, fear was a given I factored into the events of the day, like a pebble that never leaves your shoe.

James Lee Burke, The Jealous Kind: A Novel

Ghetto

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The ghetto remains a useful concept–provided we recall its rich historical background and stop divorcing it from the past. The word derives from the name of a Venetian island that once housed a copper foundry, or geto. Five hundred years ago, in 1516, the Venetian authorities required the city’s Jews to live on that island, in an area enclosed by walls.

-Mitchell Duneier, Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of An Idea

Welcome to Night Vale

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Pawnshops in Night Vale work like this.

First you need an item to pawn.

To get this, you need a lot of time behind you, years spent living and existing, until you’ve reached a point where you believe that you exist, and that a physical item exists, and that the concept of ownership exists, and that, improbable as all those are, these absurd beliefs line up in a way that results in you owning an item.

-Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor, Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel

Play All

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Shall I spend the better part of tomorrow afternoon making further inroads into the novels of Sir Walter Scott? Or shall I join my daughter in watching four episodes of Dexter? All right, five. Followed by a learned discussion of whether The Following might not have been a bit more plausible if Kevin Bacon’s character, instead of merely chasing serial killers, had serially killed them.

-Clive James, Play All: A Bingewatcher’s Notebook

Zero K

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Everybody wants to own the end of the world.

This is what my father said, standing by the contoured windows in his New York office–private wealth management, dynasty trusts, emerging markets. We were sharing a rare point in time, contemplative, and the moment was made complete by his vintage sunglasses, bringing the night indoors.

-Don DeLillo, Zero K: A Novel