Category Archives: Quotable

Happy Birthday, Theodore Roosevelt

Today is Dylan Thomas’s birthday, and Sylvia Plath’s, and Zadie Smith’s… the book blogosphere is practically melting from all those virtual candles. Happy birthday to those literary lights, and thanks for all the good writing. But Theodore Roosevelt was also born on this day, 156 years ago: police commissioner, governor, president, soldier, naturalist/hunter, explorer, one […]

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“Six Weeks On the Loose in N.Y.”: Eudora Welty Pitches the New Yorker

Who doesn’t love looking for work? Summoning your brio, shining your shoes, lying awake in bed trying to come up with a better answer to “Why would you be a good fit for this job?” than “I’d be really good at it and I’ll bring cookies to office meetings”—it’s all character-building stuff, right? Yeah, no. […]

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In Which Mark Twain Explains My Own Dilemmas with Great Prescience

The only trouble about this town is, that it is too large. You cannot accomplish anything in the way of business, you cannot even pay a friendly call, without devoting a whole day to it—that is, what people call a whole day who do not get up early. Many business men only give audience from […]

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Tennis, Anyone? Banville?

There’s niche blogging and then there’s niche blogging. Bless Tumblr; where once you might have sat around thinking, “Now who exactly is going to appreciate this crazy set of things I’ve found?” now you can make your wackiest, most obscure curatorial impulses public and you know they’ll find appreciation. For instance, John Banville: Booker Prize […]

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This Is What You Shall Do

“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to […]

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I Contain Multetudes Multidudes Multitudes

From the brave folks at We Who Are About to Die, here is Walt Whitman on the subject of proofreaders: What a tribe the tribe of proofreaders is! I think some men, some writers, owe a great part of their reputations to the excellence of their proofreaders–to their vigilance, their counsel. Who can do justice […]

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Extremely Non-Random Instances of the Phrase “Like Fire”

Yes, I’ve seen it. And no, I’m not all that thrilled. I’ve known all along that Amazon pulled the name for their Kindle from the same Voltaire quote I took Like Fire from, and there’s certainly more than enough good bookish theory in that one little statement to go around. But I cringe at the […]

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E.B. White on Straightening Pictures

Delay is natural to a writer. He is like a surfer—he bides his time, waits for the perfect wave on which to ride in. Delay is instinctive with him. He waits for the surge (of emotion? of strength? of courage?) that will carry him along. I have no warm-up exercises, other than to take an […]

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Happy Birthday, Marguerite Duras

Today would have been the 97th birthday of writer and film director Marguerite Duras. She was born Marguerite Donnadieu in French Indochina, grew up in poverty, and at 15 took an older Chinese lover, weaving him into several very different novels and memoirs down the line. She was a member of the French Communist Party, […]

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“A Fit of Coughing (Sometimes a Poem)”

From our The More Things Change the More They Remain the Same department: Every so often (about once a week) the howl goes up against those guardians of our culture, the book reviewers:—they are clods, unimaginative hacks, and worse—petty, vain, subjective, sterile, corrupt, garrulously dense; they are cowards who do not dare their own creative […]

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