He lingered by the door. “Perhaps – you do not care for prayers. Perhaps you would like… I know a good conjuring trick.”
“I like tricks.”
“You do it with cards. Have you any cards?”
He sighed, “Then that’s no good,” and giggled – she could smell the beer on his breath – “I shall just have to pray for you.”
She said, “You don’t sound afraid.”
“A little drink,” he said, “will work wonders in a cowardly man. With a little brandy, why, I’d defy – the devil.” He stumbled in the doorway.
“Good-bye,” she said. “I hope you’ll escape.” A faint sigh came out of the darkness. She said gently, “If they kill you I shan’t forgive them – ever.” She was ready to accept any responsibility, even that of vengeance, without a second thought. It was her life.
The Power and The Glory by Graham Greene, 1940
In the late ’70s, Harlequin published the Laser Books line of science fiction paperbacks. They were advertised on TV and available through subscription - in fact, you’d have had to subscribe to get the last few, rare entries in the series.
Wikipedia claims Laser Books “greatly expanded the market for 50,000 to 60,000 word books” which seems pretty generous/unlikely. These were mass-marketed but not hits, although the author list is fairly legit. Tim Powers wrote Laser Books #47, Epitaph in Rust, when he was twenty-three and claims it sold “about 17,000 copies.”
I don’t know where to begin finding comprehensive (or even vague) sales data for something like this, but if each Laser Book’s sales averaged ~17k, the total sales would be about a million, a modest total weighed against the insane paperback market of the 1970s.
He recognized her defenselessness, but he recognized, at a much deeper level, her human excellence, the touching qualities of a wanderer, for she was that and said so and while she would play all the parts of love she would not tell him that she was in love.
The Wapshot Chronicle by John Cheever, 1957
Everything before your eyes – the paper and the ink, these words, and your eyes themselves – was made in stars: in stars that explode when they die.
When we die, our bodies will eventually go back where they came from: to a dying star, our own, five billion years from now, some time around the year 5,000,002,013.
It might help if we knew all this. It might help if we felt all this.
The Information by Martin Amis, 1995
“I find the most erotic part of a woman is the boobies.” –Henry Miller in a letter to Anaïs Nin, 1942
“I don’t have low self-esteem. I have low esteem for everyone else.” –Sylvia Plath, marginalia ca. 1960
“Hi there. You might remember me from such commencement speeches as ‘Get Confident, Stupid.’” –David Foster Wallace at Kenyon College, 2005
“Good weed is hard to find.” –Flannery O’Connor in a letter sent from the University of Iowa to Savannah, Georgia, 1946
“I’m sorry I laughed at you that time you got diarrhea at Barnes & Noble.” –Michael Cunningham in a text message to Jonathan Safran Foer, 2007
“How did I fail Women’s Studies? I love bitches.” –Philip Roth, Bucknell University exit interview, 1954
“Do you have the time to listen to me whine about nothing and everything all at once?” –Virginia Woolf, grocery list ca. 1939
“Maybe it’s the liquor talking, but you’ve got a butt that won’t quit. They got these big chewy pretzels here … [indecipherable] … Five dollars? Get outta here!” –John Cheever in a postcard marked ‘return to sender,’ 1976
“WHY WON’T YOU LET ME BE GREAT!!!” –Oscar Wilde at Reading Prison, 1897
“You claim to be a player but I fucked your wife.” –Ernest Hemingway in letters to Scott Fitzgerald, 1924, 1930, June 1931, July 1931, 1934, and etched into gravestone, 1947
That our mode of being in the industrialised – and now post-industrial – built environment is in some sense profoundly awry is by no means a new observation. Writing in the 1840s, Friedrich Engels notes the “brutal indifference, the unfeeling isolation of each in his private interest”, which “becomes the more repellent and offensive, the more these individuals are crowded together in a limited space”. What he characterised as the fundamental principle of society everywhere, was nonetheless “nowhere so shamelessly barefaced, so self-conscious, as just here in the crowding of the great city”.
-Will Self for The Guardian, 2012
There was a book in our school library called The Case of the Crooked Kids by Terrance Dicks.
So of course the spine read “The Case of the Crooked Kids Dicks.”