December 15, 2009


As happens with me
at periods of electrical disturbance
and crepitating lightning,
I had hallucinations.

— Vladimir Nabokov, "Lolita"

December 13, 2009


The best sentence I read today (from a nonfiction piece by Aaron Gilbreath, "Cupid Carries a Switch," in the new Gargoyle #55):

Then one day I thought, Either I peed myself, or I smell a change in the air.

November 24, 2009


Parthenia's silences outlasted
her sentences every time,
and carried greater weight.

How will their tongue survive
in a modern world, where the talkers
rush to trample every pause?

— Barbara Kingsolver, "The Lacuna"

November 19, 2009

U.S. poets laureate

Question in high school academic bowl: Robert Penn Warren was the first, and Joseph Brodsky and Rita Dove have also held this position.

Answer given by student: Prime minister of Russia.

November 16, 2009

Frida (my 100th posting)

"I think an artist has to tell the truth,"
she said finally.

"You have to use the craft very well
and have a lot of discipline for it,

but mostly to be a good artist
you have to know something
that's true.

These kids who come to Diego
wanting to learn, I'll tell you.
They can paint a perfect tree,
a perfect face, whatever you ask.

But they don't know enough
about life to fill a thimble.

And that's what has to go in the painting.
Otherwise, why look at it?"

— Barbara Kingsolver, "The Lacuna"

November 1, 2009


The waterway behind the house
is the color of putrid blood.
Dead leaves float in the brown,
stagnant water like debris
from an explosion.
Green and brown coconuts
bob like decapitated heads.

– Patricia Cornwell, "Predator"

October 22, 2009


Bookish nerd confirmation: I am fascinated and enjoying "Read Me: A Century of Classic American Book Advertisements" by Dwight Garner. Yes, a history of book ads. Interesting to see attempts at selling classic books before they became classics.

August 31, 2009


Daylight was here,
and with it had come
the world of appearances
and lies and acting like
everything was fine.

— Lev Grossman, "The Magicians"

July 9, 2009


I never thought of my books
as being special,
only necessary.

— Jonathan Safran Foer, "Extremely
Loud and Incredibly Close"

July 5, 2009


Mists moved ahead of him
like deer through the trees.

— Charles Frazier, "Cold Mountain"

July 3, 2009


 Apparently, I was a pack-rat as a child because I'm finally making it through the last of the old boxes of stuff I recovered on recent visits to the old homeplace. Came across an old composition book with an early endeavor at fiction writing. Maybe I should've been a music critic. This scene is of a TV personality giving a review of an album that recently came out. Excerpts: "... Michael Jackson has now released another album called Thriller. Can Mr. Jackson top his past success? I must say that it is doubtful. However ... he may once again have four top ten singles ... I'll even go so far as to say that the Thriller album may sell over four-million copies."


When life
gives you lemons
you squeeze them,
Make invisible ink.
Make an acid poison.
Fling it in their eyes.

— Austin Grossman, "Soon I Will Be Invincible"

June 20, 2009


Once you get past
a certain threshold,
everyone's problems
are the same:

fortifying your island
and hiding the heat
signature from your
fusion reactor.

— Austin Grossman, "Soon I Will Be Invincible"

June 17, 2009


Wearing a cape
doesn't do much
for your social life.

— Austin Grossman, "Soon I Will Be Invincible"

June 10, 2009


The mist
hung like
the house.

— Neil Gaiman, "Coraline"

June 1, 2009


Perhaps he had experienced only
the Ray Bradbury kind of childhood
so many smalltown kids had,
or at least remembered having;
the kind where the real world
and that of dreams
sometimes overlapped,
creating a kind of magic.

— Stephen King, "Hearts in Atlantis"

May 29, 2009


It's so awful
it's kind of nice.

— Richard Yates, "Revolutionary Road"

May 28, 2009


Tears leave a permanent mark.
If you cry, people like Dad
can find you whenever they want to.
You'll never be able to hide.

— Alice Hoffman, "Skylight Confessions"

May 27, 2009


There's just one thing
stronger than death, Roxy,
and that's love.

— Louise Shivers, "Here To Get My Baby Out of Jail"

May 26, 2009


I don't know anything
as spellbinding as a fire

except maybe clouds
on a day when the wind

moves them along so fast
that they change shapes

constantly and the eye
can's leave for fascination.

— Louise Shivers, "Here To Get My Baby Out of Jail"

May 22, 2009


The silence
in the room
came alive,
like the positive space
in a Chinese landscape painting,
or the words left out of a poem.

— Mark Salzman, "Lying Awake"

May 11, 2009


"You were never ... alive."
"I was ... alive," he says feebly. "Alive?"

"No, you weren't," I say. "You know what I mean."

"What was I, then?" he asks.

"You were just" — I pause,
look out over the expanse
of white carpet into
a massive white kitchen,
white chairs on a gleaming tiled floor
— "not dead."

— Bret Easton Ellis, "The Informers"

May 2, 2009


"Turn that frown upside down," Sheldon says.

"What would that get me —
an upside-down frown, what?"

— Bret Easton Ellis, "The Informers"

April 19, 2009


The atmosphere in the Cafe Bongo
is perpetually criss-crossed
by so many silent messages
that, were they visible,
the whole dive would be
rainbow-colored spiders' webs
from floor to ceiling:
red strands of lust,
blue longings, waitings, and hopings,
tingling yellow signals that it's time
to take the first step — permission's
been covertly asked and covertly granted —
and, naturally, there has also to be
some coal-black thread
of contempt and disappointment
and outright hatred.

— Johanna Sinisalo, "Troll: A Love Story"

April 12, 2009


The key to transcendence
is language itself.
Creation takes place
through words,
a series of "And God Saids"
bringing each new stage
of life into being.

Language is God's divine power
made manifest in the world.

— Myla Goldberg, "Bee Season"

April 7, 2009


"You ask me for intimacy,"
Marie was telling her husband
of 22 years, Clem — and,
unavoidably, the therapist
and four other couples in the room —
"the same way you ask
if I'd like croutons on my salad."

She spoke slowly, deliberately,
each word chipping out of her mouth
like an ax striking wood.

— Laurie Abraham, New York Times Magazine article Aug. 12, 2007

March 28, 2009


is important

in the training
not only of animals

but also of humans.

— Yann Martel, "Life of Pi"

March 23, 2009


A tiger
is a fascinating animal
at any time,
and all the more so
when it is
your sole companion.

— Yann Martel, "Life of Pi"

March 18, 2009


You might think
I lost all hope
at that point.

I did.

And as a result
I perked up
and felt much better.

— Yann Martel, "Life of Pi"

March 14, 2009


is important

in the training
not only of animals

but also of humans.

— Yann Martel, "Life of Pi"

March 9, 2009


She was young enough
not to see a glass as
half empty or half full,
but as a beautiful object
into which anything
might be poured.

— Alice Hoffman, "Skylight Confessions"

March 6, 2009


Clouds rolled in,
white and profoundly blue,
massed like great
intense thoughts
in a clear and joyfully
humming mental field.

— Mary Gaitskill, "The Bridge"
(Zoetrope: All-Story, Summer 2005)

March 1, 2009


After I read it —
"killed in action" —
and handed it back,
the whole damned English language
just flew away in the air
like a flock of blackbirds.

For a long time
neither one of us moved.
The daily sounds of the world
went on, sparrows in the barn lot,
somebody's bull way off,
the wind in the eaves,
but around us was
this awful, awful silence
that didn't have one word in it.

— Wendell Berry, "Stand By Me"
(Atlantic Fiction Issue 2008)

February 27, 2009


The muscular contraction
in both the Wheelers' faces
was so slight that
the subtlest camera in the world
couldn't have caught it,
but Mrs. Givings felt it like a kick.
-- Richard Yates, "Revolutionary Road"

February 21, 2009


You couldn't lie
when you were naked,
but there were
a thousand kinds
of truth.

-- Lynn Abbey and Robert Asprin, "Catwoman: Tiger Hunt"

February 19, 2009


The dead
are so easy
to misquote.

-- John Updike, "My Father's Tears"
(from The New Yorker, Feb. 26, 2006)

February 17, 2009


Be careful
what you wish for. ...
Wishes are brutal,
unforgiving things.
They burn your tongue
the moment they're spoken
and you can never take them back.
-- Alice Hoffman, "The Ice Queen"

February 15, 2009


They'll never know
it's actually possible
for a boy
to be so boring
you'd agree
to kiss him
just to get him
to shut up.
-- Alice Hoffman, "Dear Diary"
(from "Local Girls" collection)

February 13, 2009


"Tell me about your wife,"
Emily's voice said in the gloom.

"I love her,"
Chase said immediately.

"Of course you do,
but that's not what I asked.
Tell me about her."

-- Tiffany Drever, "Lesser Waterways"
(in Glimmer Train, Summer 2001)

February 10, 2009


The sky in the west
looked like the white
of a bloodshot eye.
-- Stephen King, "Bag of Bones"

February 8, 2009


As he saw it,
civility would restore good feeling,
and the semblance of love
would be enough

to get by on
until love itself could be rediscovered.
And if there was never anything

more than semblance --
well, that would have to do.
He could manage with that.

--Alice Munro, "Silence"
(New Yorker, June 14&21, 2004)

February 5, 2009


on chest
like map
of violent
new continent.
-- Alan Moore, "Watchmen"

January 31, 2009


It's funny, but certain faces
seem to go in and out of style.

You look at old photographs
and everybody has a certain look
to them, almost as if they're related.

Look at pictures from ten years later
and you can see that there's a new kind
of face starting to predominate,
and that the old faces are fading away
and vanishing, never to be seen again.

-- Alan Moore, "Watchmen"

January 23, 2009


One day
you will do things
for me that you hate.
That is what it means
to be a family.
-- Jonathan Safran Foer, "Everything Is Illuminated"

January 22, 2009


They say
you know
when you
come to it,
for it's nothing
but red dirt
and rough roads.
-- Charles Frazier, "Cold Mountain"

January 19, 2009


That was the curse
of being a dummy.
You were always
being surprised
by grief,
because you
could never remember
the important things.
-- Richard Bachman, "Blaze"

January 11, 2009


A fat man lay
wrapped in a white sheet
in a recessed berth,
looking as pale
and flabby as a maggot.
-- Michael Swanwick, "The Scarecrow's Boy"
(Fantasy & Science Fiction, Oct/Nov 2008)

January 5, 2009


Untrimmed thorns
and sapling limbs
clutch at the car
with intermittent shrieks
that embarrass you.
-- Wells Tower, "Leopard"
(New Yorker, 11-10-08 issue)

January 3, 2009


like an assassin,
she delivered
-- Robert Stone, "Bay of Souls"