Author Archives: Joseph Barbato

Just Three Minutes, Please

Should you aspire to being a demagogue in contemporary America, or simply a panderer, or an ordinary politician, there may be no single better issue onto which to hang your ideological hat than immigration.

-Michael Blumenthal, “Immigration Nation,” in Just Three Minutes, Please: Thinking Out Loud on Public Radio


Three Brothers

In the London borough of Camden, in the middle of the last century, there lived three brothers; they were three young boys, with a year’s difference of age between each of them.

-Peter Ackroyd, Three Brothers: A Novel


The Battle Hymn of the Republic

For five days at the end of May 1807, some four thousand men and women congregated in a backwoods community called Boiling Spring, about thirty miles east of Richmond, Virginia, to sing the praises of God and allow Christ into their hearts.

-John Stauffer and Benjamin Soskis, The Battle Hymn of the Republic: A Biography of the Song That Marches On


Everyone in Their Place

The angel of death made its way through the festa, and nobody noticed.

-Maurizio de Giovanni, Everyone in Their Place


Death in Sardinia

Sergeant Baragli lay in the bed nearest the window, a small tube stuck in his arm.

-Marco Vichi, Death in Sardinia: A Novel


People Park

All we understood: at nine o’clock that morning, the illustrationist would be arriving by helicopter.

-Pasha Malla, People Park: A Novel

people park

The Splendid Things We Planned

My brother Scott was born in 1960 and screamed a lot as a baby, until one night my parents left him in their dorm room at NYU and proceeded to the roof, where a locked door prevented them from splattering themselves on a MacDougal Street sidewalk.

-Blake Bailey, The Splendid Things We Planned: A Family Portrait



You Should Have Known

Usually people cried when they came here for the first time, and this girl looked as if she’d be no exception.

-Jean Hanff Korelitz, You Should Have Known: A Novel


Savage Harvest & So Much More

“If the marginal cost of producing each additional item falls to essentially nothing, then everything becomes free.” Here‘s a review of Jeremy Rifkin’s The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism.


“With her riveting debut, The Weight of Blood, Laura McHugh makes a strong bid at cementing a new tradition of regional crime fiction while keeping tourism low in the Ozarks.” Here.

“Charlie Parker was one of the first deepwater jazz players to seize the public imagination. It may have taken a fateful early death in 1955 to settle his portion of true infamy, but mythic status was then assured.” Here.

“Fourteen ninety-two was also the year Columbus set sail in search of a new route to India. His royal patrons had expelled the Jews, but he took with him a Jewish translator and the navigation guide developed by Abraham Zacuto, a rabbi.” Here‘s a review of Simon Schama’s The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words, 1000 BC – 1492 AD.

“It’s a traditional murder mystery—the gun goes off and the victim falls dead in the first scene,” says Carl Hoffman (Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art.) “The twist here is that I suggest who pulled the trigger and then say, well, I’m not sure, though.” Here.

“[John Crowley's] Little, Big is that very rare book that manages to be both immensely imaginative and completely sincere. Despite the sprawling nature of its storyline and themes, it feels surprisingly intimate. It’s about what we believe and what we think we believe; how we love, how we fail ourselves and how we are redeemed.” Here.

“I’m originally from New York City, and I puzzled many of my hometown friends with my choice to move to such a small town. But I find Kalamazoo an ideal place to live and write.” Here.

“The damp practically floats off the pages in [Peter Stark's] Astoria, the sweeping tale of John Jacob Astor’s attempt to settle the remote Pacific Northwest coast in 1810.” Here.

“We need a kind of foreign news that lets the poets, the travel writers, and the novelists impart aspects of their crafts to journalists,” writes Alain de Botton
(The News: A User’s Manual). Here.


Explore Everything

It was a crisp, still night outside London Bridge station and our breath curled in the air.

-Bradley L. Garrett, Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City