Author Archives: Joseph Barbato

The Word Exchange

On a very cold and lonely Friday last November, my father disappeared from the Dictionary.

-Alena Graedon, The Word Exchange: A Novel


The Time Regulation Institute

I have never cared much for reading or writing; anyone who knows me can tell you that.

-Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar, The Time Regulation Institute


Freedom Now!

Still and moving pictures were central to the strategies of civil rights organizers. So important were photographs to movement leaders that they cultivated relationships with and granted access to mainstream photographers. Some civil rights organizations went so far as to expend precious resources employing photographers on their staffs. Black activists knew that they did not wield sufficient power to change U.S. society on their own. Change was contingent on attracting white allies to the cause. Photographs offered one of the most powerful and immediate means of reaching whites.

-Martin A. Berger, Freedom Now! Forgotten Photographs of the Civil Rights Struggle


The Long Shadow

1914-18 is the forgotten conflict of America’s war-torn twentieth century.

-David Reynolds, The Long Shadow: The Legacies of the Great War in the Twentieth Century


The Paying Guests & Much More

tipping“In fact, in nearly all of [Sarah] Waters’ work, from Tipping the Velvet (Victorian slang for cunnilingus) to The Paying Guests, there are scenes in which cream-complexioned women cavort breathlessly only to part traumatically. Does Waters ever want to just let them merrily carry on? “Well, that wouldn’t be any fun,” she says. “You show the highest respect for your characters by putting them in terrible situations. You’re allowing them to become possibly big and noble figures, or not, and experience the highs and lows.” Here.

RIP J. California Cooper dies at 82. Here.

Novelist Faye Kellerman (Murder 101) on her typical day with husband-novelist Jonathan Kellerman: “We begin writing at about 9:30 or 10:00. We write at roughly the same time, most often in the mornings because we both feel fresher at that time. We spend about two to three hours writing, and then comes all the business of running your life. There’s a lot of juggling with the books: promotion, writing, dealing with the business of writing. At first, I found it stressful, but now I have fun with it. After about 5:00 in the afternoon, I try not going to my computer. I want to relax, read a book, go out for dinner, or see a movie.” Here.

“What I hope is less about what the greens will do, but what people who don’t consider themselves part of the green movement will do,” says Naomi Klein (This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate). “This book is not written for the environmental movement. It is written much more for people who would never read a book about climate change but are engaged with economic justice of other kinds.” Here.

“[Debut novelist Merritt] Tierce’s prose is a shock to the system: the stream of muttered invectives you don’t hear as your waiter walks away from your table, the after-hours kamikaze mission of sex and drugs to balance out the debasement of the dinner shift, the rotgut tequila poured into a Patrón bottle and sold high because who will know the difference? Love Me Back is a lurid book full of unpleasant characters doing nasty things to one another. It also feels original, a voice from below that we haven’t heard before, that hasn’t had the temerity to speak up until now.” Here.

Becoming Freud

Biographers, Freud knew even as a young man, spoke on other people’s behalf–like parents, doctors, rabbis, and politicians.

-Adam Phillips, Becoming Freud: The Making of a Psychoanalyst


The Professor and the Siren

Late in the summer of 1938 I came down with a severe case of misanthropy.

-Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, The Professor and the Siren


A Fork in the Road

The emotional equivalence of jet lag is the end of a love affair and yet you, foolish and besotted lover, won’t let go.

-Monique Truong, “Enchanted Isle,” in A Fork in the Road: Tales of Food, Pleasure & Discovery on the Road edited by James Oseland


The Removers

Dad parks the hearse at the curb under a pink-petaled dogwood, in the glory of that first balmy April Saturday afternoon.

-Andrew Meredith, The Removers: A Memoir


Rebel Souls & More

rebSays Justin Martin (Rebel Souls: Walt Whitman and America’s First Bohemians): “My subjects were a group of wild, decadent, and very talented artists, properly considered America’s first Bohemians. During the 1850s, they hung out at Pfaff’s saloon in New York City.” Here.

“Our culture has always been fascinated with (white) teenage girls, usually depicted through the male gaze, but I’m not sure that they’ve ever been the Machiavellian anti-heroines they are almost always depicted as today. [Tana French's] The Secret Place is an absorbing take on a hot subgenre by one of our most skillful suspense novelists.” Here.

“I’ve created a narrative of the world,” says James Ellroy (Perfidia). “I live in the world—tenuously, most times.” Here.

Says Margaret Atwood (Stone Mattress): “It does seem to be a human characteristic, that in fact those things, although you may forget about them in your 20s, they are the sub-layer upon which your life is based. And they come back.” Here.