don winslow, satori
“Voroshenin’s guards will doubtless search me, Nicholai thought, before allowing me into the box next to their master, so I can have no kind of weapon on me. That’s not particularly a problem, he told himself; in fact, it’s the precise reason you were selected for this assignment and are now jogging through the brisk Beijing air instead of rotting in your Sugamo prison cell.” There’s no real...
“He thought that in spy films or television shows, there was always a clear objective. A tape of a conversation that proved some important fact. A man who had the answers to a specific question. These stories were enjoyable for their very simplicity.” Of course, Steinhauer’s ease underlines the fact that in genre fiction — or at least in most good genre fiction — you’re never just...
The semicolon is the most human of punctuation marks, precisely because it’s...– Jonathan Evans, in an email to Lisa Lutz (via davidmanque)
“All Tourists know the importance of awareness. When you enter a room or a park, you chart the escapes immediately. You take in the potential weapons around you — a chair, ballpoint pen, letter opener, or even the loose, low-hanging branch on the tree behind Milo’s bench.” Almost immediately, Milo is surprised by a colleague sneaking up on him. Which is also nice — puncturing the kind...
olen steinhauer, the tourist
“This is what happened when he was away from his family. There was no one around to remind him that it was a mistake to spend the night with a bottle of vodka and a pack of smokes, watching late-night French television. He hadn’t been like this when he was a Tourist, but now, Milo-the-family-man traveled like an immature teenager just set free from home.” One of the problems that the genre writer...
“We couldn’t articulate the why; we just knew it felt like we were being stolen from. It felt like something that was ours alone, and always had been, was slowly slipping away and, with it, our sense of security. We had earned our fantasies about Nora Lindell; we had kept her legacy alive.” And that little bit of ickyness slowly builds throughout the course of the novel (another one that spreads...
“Our mothers tried, but we were the ones who really could imagine it. We were the ones who could picture those twins as if they were ours. We gave them the best of Nora. We gave them her hair — red, just as Jack Boyd had described. We gave them her poreless skin and overabundance of freckles. We kept them slim, just as Nora and Sissy had been. Here and there, though, we added or subtracted a...
hannah pittard, the fates will find their way
“Some nights, she might even have thought of us. She wondered which of us had graduated, which hadn’t. She wondered who’d gotten into what schools. She thought about Trey Stephens, maybe, and whether he’d taken another girl to prom after all. Of course she thought of her father, her sister, but we didn’t think about that.” The narrator — the third person plural — sets the tone for...
We’ve arrived at this place where we just thoughtlessly plunge towards whatever...– Nicole Krauss (via ephemerals)
A father, regarding his daughter and her baby fat: “She wore her fat how a child wears a snowsuit — too busy to notice it, too excited by the landscape, the whole wide snowy world laid out before her, to feel encumbered.”
“… and here was Judith, already twenty-six, a few community college courses under her belt, a part-time job at the Come & Go, faith and fidelity like apple seeds she’d swallowed by accident, in her but not of her, working their way out. They would come out whole. They were not things you could digest. Or would they? She didn’t know; not knowing was the whole shape of her life; not...
“They were going to forgive her. It was decided. It had always been decided, even before the girl ran, even before she was born. You forgive your child. You are always forgiving them, always, every moment, every breath. It’s the work of parenthood.” I read a review of this that pulled this quote as the crux of the book, its mission statement, more or less. I’m not sure about that — the...
sarah braunstein, the sweet relief of missing...
“The city was magnificent and filthy. Poo spit breath pee yeast. Being there was like encountering someone’s body — it made him think of a movie where the heroes get miniaturized and injected into a human bloodstream and travel around in a special submarine, dodging vessels and cells. How could he try on a pair of shoes? How could he be expected to care about his feet? He’d let go of her...
There were days in the waning summer and early autumn when he took her far from...– Jonathan Evison, West of Here | Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill 02.15.11
“For all of his self-improvement in the joint, all of his Walt Whitman and Emerson and Thoreau, for all of his cell-bound forays into religion and philosophy and self-help, for all that lying awake at night and resolving himself to a new life, new patterns, a new way of thinking, it occurred to Timmon, as he switchbacked up the steep ridge, that he hadn’t improved his instincts one bit...
anythingcouldhappen: “Certainly the more rational way to approach a novel is to ask first, Did I enjoy it? instead of What’s wrong with it? I think sometimes the part of our brain that likes to nitpick a book’s faults—the part that is showing off to prove to you just how smart you are—shouts louder than the part of the brain that is quietly enjoying the ride. It doesn’t mean we should listen more...
jonathan evison, west of here
“Picking absently through the iceberg, she noticed a new tattoo on Randy’s wrist, just visible beneath the cuff of his jacket. It looked like an ice-cream cone with feet. She would come to find that it was the handiwork of someone named Gooch in his cell block and the subject was none other than Atlas shouldering his burden. And later, when she looked up Atlas at the library, it would...
When Iron Council came out, people would say to... →
China Mieville dislikes allegory.
“I should say here that, in America, every black man has a conspiracy theory. (That statement in itself reveals a conspiracy, omitting as it does the conspiracy theories of black women [copious though they may be].) Some theories are quite creative, fascinating. But most are quite mundane, because they’re true. This obsession with conspiracies is most likely due to the fact that our ethnic group...
Most critical energy is expended in big-picture... →
Sam Anderson, in the NYT Magazine.
mat johnson, pym
“I used to complain that the only things the white literary world would accept of Africa’s literary descendants were reflections of the Europeans themselves: works that focused on the effects of white racism, or the ghettos white economic and social disenfranchisement of blacks created. I still think that, I have just come to the understanding that I’m no better. I like Poe, I like Melville, I...
I have one word for Jack Kerouac – edit.
PARIS: A tragic waste of paper.
JESS: I can’t believe you just said that.
PARIS: Well, it’s true, the Beat’s writing was completely self-indulgent. I have one word for Jack Kerouac – edit.
JESS: It was not self-indulgent. The Beats believed in shocking people, stirring things up.
PARIS: They believed in drugs, booze, and petty crime.
RORY: Well, then you can say that they exposed you to a world you wouldn’t have otherwise known. Isn’t that what great writing’s all about?
PARIS: That was not great writing. That was the National Enquirer of the fifties.
JESS: You’re cracked.
PARIS: Typical guy response. Worship Kerouac and Bukowski, God forbid you’d pick up anything by Jane Austen.
JESS: Hey, I’ve read Jane Austen.
PARIS: You have?
JESS: Yeah, and I think she would’ve liked Bukowski.
PARIS: What are you doing?
JESS: Salt and pepper dip. Only way to eat a fry.
Each year, the editors of the Believer generate a... →
Strongest and most underappreciated is quite the sweet spot. Can’t argue with Hynes or Murray, which I’ve read; would have liked to see Emily St. John Mandel there, too.
“I decide to think about Carly, and I wonder why she has not responded to my proposition, Surely she weighed the possibilities. She can die of ovarian cancer, or she can help me escape and claim she was seduced by my charm, and spend a few years in prison. Choosing incarceration and a potential long life over certain death is a no-brainer.” Now, Carly is a prison guard, and apparently a believer....
tj forrester, miracles, inc.
“The irony did not escape me. Vernon L. Oliver, he who had recently healed a paraplegic in front of ten thousand witnesses, could not heal his own girlfriend. I got up and walked down the aisle, stopped in front of the cubicle where a thoughtful God commanded his throne, fought the urge to spit in his direction.” Never you mind that, in a book about a fraudulent faith-healer that’s narrated by...