I have no idea what the life span is of a stone on a Wexford beach. I know what books George Eliot was reading in 1876, and what letters she was writing and what sentences she was composing, and maybe that is enough for me to know. The rest is science and I do not do science. It is possible then that I miss the point of most things—the mild windlessness of the day, the swallows’ flight, how these words appear on the screen as I enter them, the greenness of the stone.
"The Empty Family" by Colm Tóibín
This cover design is like a personal affront.
"Introduction by Gary Shteyngart" is NOT HELPING.
He used to think he wanted to be good, he wanted to be kind, he wanted to be brave and wise, but it was all pretty difficult. He wanted to be loved, too, if he could fit it in.
Tender is the Night by Scott Fitzgerald, 1934
I distrust few things more deeply than acts of literary explication. Here is a book. Go inside.
—William Gibson, 1995
Off and on, I see the woman at one window or another, though not peeking through, which, as will have been gathered, is far from her policy. At least twice, however, it has been at a window upstairs; on both occasions when I was about to undress for some reason, not necessarily slumber, of which I have little. At these times, her slimy-sleek head, always faceless, will tip-tap sharply against the thick glazing bars. The indelicacy, as Jack might put it, set me upon a course of hard thinking.
"The Fetch" by Robert Aickman
I worked very hard to become an imitation human being. And of course I succeeded.
The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis, 1963
“Yeah it’s a political satire. Gonna call it Manor Farm: Friendship is Magic.” –George Orwell in conversation, 1943
“All right, brain. You don’t like me and I don’t like you. But let’s just do this, and then I can get back to killing you with beer. ” –William Faulkner drafting Intruder in the Dust, 1945
“I broke into Shakespeare’s tomb and stole his remains, grinded the bones, smoked it, then got in the game.” –Jane Austen, diary entry ca. 1799
“I was going to take this class called Cooking for One, but the teacher killed himself.” –Franz Kafka
“Loneliness and cheeseburgers are a dangerous mix.” –original opening line of “The Third Thing That Killed My Father Off” by Raymond Carver, 1979
“If there’s magical talismans or a magic sword or wizards or fucking crazy not-real animals, all these basic things that break the laws of reality: that shit’s all fantasy. I’m into hard sci-fi. Fantasy is bullshit.” –Ray Bradbury to Rod Serling, 1962
“Well, everyone knows Scar died at Pride Rock. What this erotic fanfiction presupposes is… maybe he didn’t?” –Anne Rice, 1998
“I moved here from Canada and they think I’m slow, eh?” –Margaret Atwood accepting the Los Angeles Times Fiction Award, 1986
“Fuck Wharton, fuck Hemingway, fuck Scribner’s as a staff, publisher, and as a motherfucking crew.” –Scott Fitzgerald, unreleased freestyle ca. 1929
“Some days, even my lucky rocketship underpants don’t help.” –J.D. Salinger, last interview, 1980