Author Archives: Joseph Barbato

Empire of Sin

Shortly after eleven o’clock on a bright November morning, a handsome middle-aged man dashed up to the front door of the brothel at 172 Customhouse Street in the French Quarter and let himself in with a key.

-Gary Krist, Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans


Ice Cold

We’re down in the bomb shelter alphabetizing the canned foods so we can find what we’re looking for during an invasion or nuclear attack.

-T. Jefferson Parker, “Side Effects,” in Mystery Writers of America Presents Ice Cold: Tales of Intrigue from the Cold War edited by Jeffery Deaver and Raymond Benson


The Pleasures of Being Out of Step

I learned something from Duke Ellington when I was a kid, in my early twenties. He said, ‘Don’t ever get caught up in categories.’ You know, people are talking about ‘modern’ jazz.  He said, ‘Talk about the individual musician.’ And after that, it occurred to me: What counts is [that] what you believe is factually able to be proved, whatever that comes out to be.

-Nat Hentoff in The Pleasures of Being Out of Step: Nat Hentoff on Journalism, Jazz and the First Amendment, An Oral History edited by David L. Lewis


Founders as Fathers

At first glance, Virginia planters seem like highly unlikely candidates for fomenting a revolution.

-Lorri Glover, Founders as Fathers: The Private Lives and Politics of the American Revolutionaries


American Innovations

I was at home, not making spaghetti.

-Rivka Galchen, “The Lost Order,” in American Innovations:



Family Dancing

Neil’s mother, Mrs. Campbell, sits on her lawn chair behind a card table outside the food co-op.

-David Leavitt, “Territory,” in Family Dancing: Stories


The News

It doesn’t come with any instructions, because it’s meant to be the most normal, easy, obvious and unremarkable activity in the world, like breathing or blinking.

-Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual


Can’t and Won’t

Now that I have been here for a little while, I can say with confidence that I have never been here before.

-Lydia Davis, “Bloomington,” in Can’t and Won’t: Stories


Survival of the Nicest & More


On that new book, On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City, by sociologist Erving Goffman’s daughter, Alice: “The level of detail in this book and Goffman’s ability to understand her subjects’ motivations are astonishing — and riveting. Indeed, it’s a power of “On the Run” that her insights and conclusions feel so honest to what she’s seen and heard. She depicts a community where trust has evaporated, where young men like Mike often avoid girlfriends for fear that the women, for their own reasons, might turn their paramours in.” Here.

Says novelist Tom Perrotta: “I wonder at what point I became aware of how deeply Our Town influenced the way I thought about The Leftovers.” Here.

“[Ned] Beauman is as dazzling as ever. His cast of characters includes a Teflon-coated chief executive, a double-crossing undercover spy, a gay self-taught chemist and a slimy, morally challenged corporate PR; while his zingy dialogue and the unpredictable directions in which the narrative ricochets are as lively as anything he has previously written.”Here‘s a review of Glow.

Says Stefan Klein  (Survival of the Nicest): “The willingness to act to help others is an attitude that you can practice until it is as natural as riding a bicycle. In time the fear of being exploited fades, and with the courage to give grows the feeling of freedom.” Here.

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The Bend of the World

It was a wet February in Pittsburgh, spring, early and without warning, and twice in one week UFOs had been spotted hovering over Mount Washington.

-Jacob Bacharach, The Bend of the World: A Novel