Category Archives: Quotable

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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“… Snow Falling Faintly Through the Universe”

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over […]

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Joan Didion Could See Me Sitting Here from 1968

I am not sure what more I could tell you about these pieces. I could tell you that I liked doing some of them more than others, but that all of them were hard for me to do, and took more time than perhaps they were worth; that there is always a point in the […]

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