And at the launch party for [Andre Schiffrin’s memoir] — A Political Education — I gave a toast recounting his advice to Valerie and I, via Renata Adler, about how we shouldn’t start a new publishing company.
When it was Andre’s turn, he said, as if glum, “Nobody listens to me.”
Rest in peace, Andre. Pancreatic cancer is an awful death. But I hope, somewhere in its horror, you had a chance to realize — well, hell, a lot of people didn’t listen to you. They’re all trying to do exactly what you did.
You do not have to choose the bruised peach or misshapen pepper others pass over. You don’t have to bury your grandmother’s keys underneath her camellia bush as the will states.
You don’t need to write a poem about your grandfather coughing up his lung into that plastic tube—the machine’s wheezing almost masking the kvetching sisters in their Brooklyn kitchen.
You can let the crows amaze your son without your translation of their cries. You can lie so long under this summer shower your imprint will be left when you rise.
You can be stupid and simple as a heifer. Cook plum and apple turnovers in the nude. Revel in the flight of birds without dreaming of flight. Remember the taste of raw dough in your mouth as you edged a pie.
Feel the skin on things vibrate. Attune yourself. Close your eyes. Hum. Each beat of the world’s pulse demands only that you feel it. No thoughts. Just the single syllable: Yes …
See the homeless woman following the tunings of a dead composer? She closes her eyes and sways with the subways. Follow her down, inside, where the singing resides.
“Shawn always claims that The New Yorker does not and cannot, with integrity, try to attend to what a reader might want to read. We publish what we like, and hope that some people might want to read it too. This modest formulation of hauteur finds its best expression in a remark made by a Checker when the magazine finally breaks down and adds a real table of contents — as opposed to the almost microscopically small and cryptic listing that seemed on occasion to fly around and land obscurely in Goings On About Town. The real table of contents arrives shortly after I do, and the new feature has been kept a secret, and when we all get our First Run Copies on a Monday morning, a collective gasp of dismay goes up from the Checking Department. A colleague finally says, “This is just awful! How could we do such a thing.” Being green, I say, “Well, don’t you think it’s a good idea for readers to know what’s in the magazine?” She says, “It’s none of the readers’ business what’s in the magazine.”—I’m so excited for the publication of My Mistake by Daniel Menaker on Tuesday. There’s a much longer, different excerpt up on Vulture today.
“Major accomplishments: Publishing “High Status Characters,” Brian Raftery’s well-received NOOK Snaps oral history of the The Upright Citizens Brigade. Creating her own cool blog, Slaughterhouse 90210, which is a tasty mash-up of literature and TV, two of her passions.”—
“Leo insulating himself from all people who won’t lie to him about how good he is at basketball seems like a perfectly good use of celebrity”—You can go ahead and read the very long George Clooney piece in Esquire, but Sam has already said the most important thing about it.
“And critically, given the extension of the franchise to women just 93 years ago, McAuliffe was able to target Cuccinelli for supporting transvaginal ultrasounds for women seeking abortions because Cuccinelli supports transvaginal ultrasounds for women seeking abortions.”—
I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day.
When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.
Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans’ Day is not.
So I will throw Veterans’ Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things.
What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.
“Jazz only works if we’re trying to be free and are, in fact, together. Rock-and-roll works because we’re all a bunch of flakes. That’s something you can depend on, and a good thing too, because in the twentieth century, that’s all there is: jazz and rock-and-roll. The rest is term papers and advertising.”—"The Delicacy of Rock-and-Roll" in Air Guitar by Dave Hickey
“As an adult, Zelda was once asked for her favorite recipe to cook to add to Harper & Brothers Favorite Recipes of Famous Women. Not being the domestic type, she responded with: “See if there is any bacon, and if there is, ask the cook which pan to fry it in. Then ask if there are any eggs, and if so try and persuade the cook to poach two of them. It is better not to attempt toast, as it burns very easily. Also, in the case of bacon, do not turn the fire too high, or you will have to get out of the house for a week. Serve preferably on china plates, though gold or wood will do if handy.”—Zelda Fitzgerald, you’re the best.
“One of Faulkner’s short stories, “An Error in Chemistry,” hinges on this point: a northern murderer, pretending to be a Southern gentleman, mistakenly mixes sugar with “raw whiskey”; the Southerners recognize his faux pas and immediately pounce on him.”—Faulkner’s Cocktail of Choice
When the Sun rises do you not see a round Disk of firesomewhat like a Guinea I guess it could look like that O no no I see an Innumerable company of the Heavenly host oh crying Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty I guess it could be that too either the money or the screaming angels WOULD YOU QUESTION A WINDOW what? WOULD YOU QUESTION A WINDOW I suppose not I suppose I wouldn’t THEN NEITHER WILL I QUESTION MY CORPOREAL NOR VEGETATIVE EYE
If ever we see those gardens again, The summer will be gone—at least our summer. Some other mockingbird will concertize Among the mulberries, and other vines Will climb the high brick wall to disappear.
How many footpaths crossed the old estate— The gracious acreage of a grander age— So many trees to kiss or argue under, And greenery enough for any mood. What pleasure to be sad in such surroundings.
At least in retrospect. For even sorrow Seems bearable when studied at a distance, And if we speak of private suffering, The pain becomes part of a well-turned tale Describing someone else who shares our name.
Still, thinking of you, I sometimes play a game. What if we had walked a different path one day, Would some small incident have nudged us elsewhere The way a pebble tossed into a brook Might change the course a hundred miles downstream?
The trick is making memory a blessing, To learn by loss the cool subtraction of desire, Of wanting nothing more than what has been, To know the past forever lost, yet seeing Behind the wall a garden still in blossom.
“I am going to go off the board with this next statement - Graffiti is a gate way to drug abuse - where our young aspiring artists are spraying their Sistine chapels they are digging on the smell of the paint. At 13/15 it’s more often then not their first “high”. Huffing is probably one of the biggest problems with young teens. And from there it goes to other things for a better high. So I really wouldnt encourage your kid’s artistic epiphany with a loving smile if you are digging on the graffiti route of career paths.”—
“What I find particularly alarming, again, from the point of view I care about, American fiction, is that it’s a coercive development. Agents will now tell young writers: ‘I won’t even look at your manuscript if you don’t have 250 followers on Twitter’. I see people who ought to be spending their time developing their craft and people who used to be able to make their living as freelance writers. I see them making nothing, and I see them feeling absolutely coerced into this constant self-promotion.”—Franzen: writers ‘coerced’ into social media
“this book is defiantly one of the best books i have ever read! i passed it round to my friends and about 20 of us read it in about 4 weeks. did not like the ending very much so my friends and i wrote out own endings in the book. this book is not for people under the age of 13. my mother wanted to read it after me so i just told her i lost it at school because she probably would of taken it away”—Today’s NOOK Daily Find is Judy Blume’s Forever, and the customer reviews from 14-year-olds are just amazing/adorable.