haruki murakami, 1Q84
“The more she thought about it, the more natural her second hypothesis began to feel to her because, no matter how much she searched for it, she could not find in herself a gap or distortion in her mind. And so she carried this hypothesis forward: It’s not me but the world that’s deranged. Yes, that settles it.” One of the criticisms that gets levelled against Murakami...
“The mural depicted refrigerators dressed like Indians dancing around a huge, glowing-red convection oven. The scene was modeled after the local corn dance and most people were offended by it, but Blinky, being native, claimed that every detail was accurate, except for the fact that the dancers were appliances.” Assumption is a strange little book, too, in its shifts: there are three...
percival everett, assumption
“Ogden had little interest in the old woman when she’d been alive, so he was amused at how much her death was affecting him. Perhaps it was as simple as a mystery to pass the time in a boring, sleepy village. Maybe it was some kind of sublimation for a stalled life, a life he was not pursuing. Or perhaps he just wanted to catch and stop a killer.” It’s interesting to see...
“But any salesman knows you can’t get pedantic with the client. The old saying ‘The customer is always right’, harks back to this common knowledge. If you’re the kind of person who has to correct someone every time they make a factual mistake, you might just want to stop for a moment and compare the average take-home pay of a teacher and that of a halfway competent...
“What he didn’t realize is that a genius is different from other people. A genius doesn’t waste time like other people. Even when he looks like he is wasting time he may in fact be making the most productive possible use of the time. In fact the only time a genius wastes time is when he tries to follow the rules and act like ordinary people.” But the problems with...
helen dewitt, lightning rods
“Now speaking for myself I have every sympathy for individuals who have the misfortune to be crippled or malformed in some way which interferes with the normal function of going to the toilet, I think they have a tough row to hoe and I give them a lot of credit for that. A lot of credit. I mean, I personally wouldn’t like to have to manoeuver myself out of a wheelchair every time I...
lydia millet, ghost lights
“Or maybe he had forgotten, over time, how familiar elements everywhere had a steadying influence. At home there was the security of known formulations and structrues all over the place, in window fastenings, in the door handles of cars, gas pumps, faucets, sidewalks, restaurants, shoes. Products and habits were so deeply linked it was hard to separate them. And their reliable similarity...
Between the cheap and easy real estate punch-lines... →
Malcolm Harris’s review of Zone One for The New Inquiry; it’s an assessment of the book that I pretty entirely disagree with (I have my own reservations about the book, but they’re different, and I come out firmly on the positive side), and it hits close enough to an ad hominem tone at the end, in a way I’d try to avoid in a setting any more formal than a tumblr, especially...
lee child, gone tomorrow
“When I was done with watching for people I started watching for rats instead. I like rats. There are a lot of myths about them. Sightings are rarer than people think. Rats are shy. Visible rats are either young or sick or starving. They don’t bite sleeping babies’ faces for the fun of it. They’re tempted by traces of food, that’s all. Wash your kid’s mouth before you put it to bed and it’ll be...
Murakami often hears from readers who have “discovered” his inventions in the...– The Fierce Imagination of Haruki Murakami (via thecleverness)
“If the beings they destroyed were their own creations, and not the degraded remnants of the people described on the things’ driver’s licenses, so be it. We never see other people anyway, only the monsters we make of them.” Zombie stories are also stories of endurance; they seldom end well, with the ragtag band of humans weathering the zombie plague. This one follows that...
“He’d mulled over the Lieutenant’s theory of the barricades. Yes, they were the only vessel strong enough to contain our faith. But then there are the personal barricades, Mark Spitz thought. Since the first person met the second person. The ones that keep other people out and our madness in so we can continue to live. That’s the way we’ve always done it. It’s...
"I'm unqualified to comment on the Big Picture Why... →
Colson Whitehead, interviewed by Alex Pappademas, at Grantland.
colson whitehead, zone one
“Mark Spitz saw it clearly: Kaitlyn’s implacable march through a series of imaginative and considered birthday parties — her parents were so thoughtful, here was a blessing bestowed from one generation to the next — each birthday party transcending the last and approaching a kind of birthday-party perfection that once accomplished would usher in an exquisite new age of...
“Teachers in movies are always leaping onto tables and sacrificing their lives for their students and their love of literature but the truth is that you rarely, rarely take a class from a teacher who cares. It’s just unrealistic. How many people could walk into a classroom year after year and weep for “Ode on a Grecian Urn?” That’s why the ones that stay are so often some of the most depressing...
alexander maksik, you deserve nothing
“You always begin the same you. You’re standing on a stage presenting yourself, happy to be back. Which is not to say that you don’t believe in teaching, because you do. There are few things you believe in more and you want to do something good. But along with that comes the wonder of standing before a group of people who love you, who imagine that you are strong and wise. “All that attention,...
“He tossed these in through the door, flying right over Zula’s head like spears, and directed Sharjeel to screw them down on their edges to the plywood underlayment. This he did miserably. The procedure, as Zula could have told him, was called toenailing, and it was tricky.” But here’s the dark side of the Mogadishu-metaphor Stephenson. This comes in the middle of a long, couple-page episode...
Having lived for a few decades in parts of the United States and Canada where...– Neal Stephenson, REAMDE | Wm Morrow 09.20.11
neal stephenson, reamde
“The brain, as far as Richard could determine from haphazard skimming of whatever came up on Google, was sort of like the electrical system of Mogadishu. A whole lot was going on in Mogadishu that required copper wire for conveyance of power and information, but there was only so much copper to go around, and so what wasn’t actively being used tended to get pulled down by militias and taken...
lev grossman, the magician king
“The dragon was a lot scoldier than he expected. And disappointingly cryptic. Somehow in the back of his mind he’d vaguely thought that the dragon might want to be his friend, and they would fly around the world solving mysteries together. The chances of that happening now looked vanishingly small.” Actually, a sequel that’s as good as the first in the series, in different ways: compensating for...
“Fillory had yet to give Quentin the surcease from unhappiness he was counting on, and he was damned if he was leaving before he got what he wanted. Relief was out there, he knew it, he just needed to get deeper in, and he wasn’t about to let Richard slow him down. He had to jump the tracks, get out of his Earth-story, which wasn’t going so well, and into the Fillory-story, where...
lev grossman, the magicians
“‘Now.’ He clapped his hands on his knees and quirked his eyebrows. ‘First things first: magic is real. But you’ve probably already gotten that far.’” There are certain things you get to do with exposition only when you’re being fantastic. Both in the small-f and the big-F way. Then again, one of the great strengths of The Magicians is the way...
“Weeks later, when I’d left Thebes and gone to stay with a friend in New York, Marie sent me a letter… . I cut the letter into hundreds of pieces, which I put in a paper bag. I planned to make a collage out of them and send it back to Marie by way of an answer. But unlike Celeste I wasn’t really a maker of collages, and when I moved out of my friend’s house I left the...
She understood what none of them were even close to figuring out, that this was...– Paul LaFarge, Luminous Airplanes | FSG 09.27.11
paul lafarge, luminous airplanes
“In my hurry to leave San Francisco I’d packed only one book, Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, which I’d been meaning to read for months; but as soon as I started it I realized I was not in the mood. Reading a novel, especially a contemporary novel, with its small stock of characters and situations, felt like being stuffed into a sleeping bag head-first: it was warm and dark and...