Author Archives: Joseph Barbato



By offering an inside look into how top-tier investment banks, consulting firms, and law firms select new members, this book suggests that social closure among economic elites is alive and well. Although in theory competition is now open to all, in practice, entry to these lucrative and coveted organizations is still restricted to a small group of individuals who display high-status signals associated with privileged social origins. New members are disproportionately drawn from the nation’s most prestigious universities. While Ivy League schools have served as the primary recruitment ground for America’s elite ranks for generations, in the past this relationship was informal. Now, through the use of school “lists” and quotas, membership is formally reserved for graduates of a handful of prestigious schools dominated by the nation’s most affluent families.

-Lauren A. Rivera, Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs

Bright, Precious Days


Once, not so very long ago, young men and women had come to the city because they loved books, because they wanted to write novels or short stories or even poems, or because they wanted to be associated with the production and distribution of those artifacts and with the people who created them. For those who haunted suburban libraries and provincial bookstores, Manhattan was the shining island of letters.

-Jay McInerney, Bright, Precious Days: A Novel

The Pigeon Tunnel

The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life - John le Carré (CNW Group/Penguin Random House Canada Limited) The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life – John le Carré (CNW Group/Penguin Random House Canada Limited)


If you’re ever lucky enough to score an early success as a writer, as happened to me with The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, for the rest of your life there’s a before-the-fall and an after-the-fall. You look back at the books you wrote before the searchlight picked you out and they read like the books of your innocence; and the books after it, in your low moments, like the strivings of a man on trial. “Tying too hard” the critics cry.

-John le Carre, The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life

The Gatekeeper


Missy LeHand’s paternal grandfather escaped the shores of famine-ravaged Ireland only to die when a hatchet landed on his head in America. It is the first known instance of miserably mixed luck for the family of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s future right-hand woman.

-Kathryn Smith, The Gatekeeper: Missy LeHand, FDR, and the Untold Story of the Partnership That Defined a Presidency

Blood at the Root & So Very Much More


“Patrick Phillips (Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America) has a perfect perch from which to observe and document the ghosts of old racial divisions in his Georgia home that culminated in white citizens of the county hanging and beating several black men and expelling nearly all of its black citizens after the rape of two young white women in 1912.”

Arundhati Roy on her forthcoming novel–her first in 20 years: “I am glad to report that the mad souls (even the wicked ones) in The Ministry of Utmost Happiness have found a way into the world, and that I have found my publishers.”

“With all this incessant talk of building walls and mass deportations, Nuevo New York, a new book celebrating notable Latinos in the culture capital of the world, aims to challenge those negative notions.”

On Born to Run: “[Bruce] Springsteen has had to cope with his father’s legacy not just psychologically but genetically: He undergoes his own major depressive swings, in fact several of them in recent years. The idea of the Boss on antidepressants, or spending months unable to stop crying, is a touch startling, although it shouldn’t be for those who’ve heard, say, Nebraska. Touring is his way of self-medicating, but he tends to crash when he is off the road, sometimes severely, because ‘when you’re on tour, you’re king, and when you’re home, you’re not.’ In fact, he credits years of work with his psychiatrist for having made this book possible.”

Says Charles McGrath (John O’Hara: Stories): “He writes about high life and low life, crooks and Social Register types, and he’s surprisingly good on showbiz; not just actors, but agents and publicity people and hangers-on.”

“[MacKinlay] Kantor’s story is fascinating — a biographical gold mine and an object lesson in the ultimate fading away of the best-selling, prize-winning success many writers dream about.” Here’s Susan Cheever on The Most Famous Write Who Ever Lived.

Jan Morris at 90. “For many people, the best-known fact about Jan is that she spent the first half of her life as a man and the second as a woman. She has joked that when she dies, her obituaries will be headlined ‘Sex-change author dies’”.



Sitting on a bench in the Parque Santander, having his shoes shined before it was time for the tribute to begin, Mallarino was suddenly sure he’d just seen a long-dead political cartoonist.

-Juan Gabriel Vasquez, Reputations: A Novel

Bobby Kennedy


Bobby couldn’t charm them the way JFK had with his intellect, his wit, or his sleek and sophisticated wife. It wasn’t his style, either, to intimidate reporters or buy their favor the way Joe did. Nor did he have his brother Ted’s disarming way of passing on kudos not just for fawning stories but for ones in which he was skewered, then inviting the reporter in for a Chivas and soda. What Bobby could do, in a manner that still amazes those who were on that campaign trail, was make rhinoceros-hided scribes fall in love with him to an extent not seen since Franklin Roosevelt or perhaps his distant cousin Teddy.

-Larry Tye, Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours


As I was saying, I’m an inadequate son. I didn’t really notice this until I reached the age my father had been when he was imprisoned for repairing the broken faces of clock towers without authorization. He’d incurred the wrath of those who require that certain things not work at all.

-Helen Oyeyemi, “freddy barrandov checks…in?”, in What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours: Stories



Hara had to think there were better ways to say fuck you, although it did take a certain ballsiness, what he had done, in the middle of their divorce no less, and she could see, in fact she couldn’t not see, that the flip side of this prickishness was the quality she loved in Zeke, loved best in him perhaps, when she did love him, and she did love him–she still did–she just hated him now too.

-Greg Jackson, “Epithalamium,” in Prodigals: Stories

Of Poetry & Protest


When I was about 8 years old I was writing letters to President Roosevelt telling him how to win the war. I included diagrams of new weapons.

I started a newspaper around the age of 10 for our organization “The Secret Ten” that met under our porch where we ate “Kits” and drank Kool-Aid. I wrote the whole newspaper, all eight copies. Mostly it consisted of a long cartoon “The Crime Wave” that showed people being stuck up by a hand with a gun that said “Yr Money.”

-Amiri Baraka in Of Poetry & Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin edited and compiled by Philip Cushway and Michael Warr