“For we have never discovered why, given the brevity of life and the depth of our need and the force of our passions, we do not pursue our own individual happiness with an annihilating zeal, throwing all else to the wind. We know only that we don’t, and that all our goodness, our only claim to glory, resides in this inexplicable devotion to things other than ourselves.”—The Chatham School Affair by Thomas H. Cook is just a real mood lifter this week goddamn.
“"Life is inadequate, Henry," he said finally, his eyes upon me very solemnly. "Sometimes the most we can give, or get, is trust." With that he leaned forward, patted my leg, rose, and went inside. Nor did he ever make any further attempt to explain what he’d said to me. But over the years, as he grew older and I grew older, I came to understand what he’d meant that night, that hunger is our destiny, faith what we use to soothe its dreadful pang.”—The Chatham School Affair by Thomas H. Cook is getting real y’all.
“One summer at the fag end of the nineties, I had to go out of London to talk to a literary society, of the sort that must have been old-fashioned when the previous century closed. When the day came, I wondered why I’d agreed to it; but yes is easier than no, and of course when you make a promise you think the time will never arrive: that there will be a nuclear holocaust, or something else diverting. Besides, I had a sentimental yearning for the days of self-improvement; they were founded, these reading clubs, by master drapers and their shopgirl wives; by poetasting engineers, and uxorious physicians with long winter evenings to pass. Who keeps them going these days?”—from “How Shall I Know You?,” by Hilary Mantel, in today’s Barnes & Noble Review.
“As communities are heading back to school, we’d like to take a moment to celebrate the educators who are also our Uber partner drivers. Whether it’s an afternoon shift or a summertime gig, partnering with Uber provides teachers with the flexibility and opportunity they need to continue creating a foundation of excellence for students across the country.”—
Before I was born, and before he started his twenty-year career as a high school English teacher, my father drove a taxi.
He only had one story from that time in his life. He had just married my mother and had longish hair and wore dark sunglasses. He looked like every picture you’ve ever seen of your parents in the 70s: big pinpoint collars, khaki pants, that sort of thing. Anyway, one shift an older woman got into his cab and as they pulled away she said something along the lines of “you kids today wear sunglasses all the time, and I know why: it’s because you’re all high on drugs.”
Cool as can be, he turned around to the woman and said “Lady, I wear these glasses because I’m blind.”
She immediately apologized for her insensitivity.
Anyway, he quit that gig and got a job as a teacher and joined a union and had a pension and retired on disability, all paid for by a deal negotiated between Fairfax County government and the teachers’ union. Now a company that has an app you like is celebrating how educators can become independent contractors, without representation, because society is tired of paying its educators enough to live on teaching alone. This makes me sick.
“You had college professors, nonprofit staff, people in publishing, teachers. They were middle class and very highly educated and went to Brooklyn because of the kind of creativity and arts scene and people like them, frankly. For people in those same professions today, Brooklyn is mainly unaffordable — those same neighborhoods are clearly unaffordable.”—This article is getting me so heated I mean god damn.
“I felt what we always feel when someone dies—the sad awareness, now futile, of how little it would have cost us to have been more loving. One forgets that one is a dead man conversing with dead men.”—Jorge Luis Borges, “There Are More Things”
“People silently struggle from all kinds of terrible things. They suffer from depression, ambition, substance abuse, and pretension. They suffer from family tragedy, Ivy-League educations, and self-loathing. They suffer from failing marriages, physical pain, and publishing.”—A great part of a great article by Paul Ford, “How to Be Polite”
“Keats was unimpressed by the food on their trip. He wrote in a letter: “We dined yesterday on dirty bacon dirtier eggs and dirtiest Potatoes with a slice of Salmon.” In Scotland they subsisted almost entirely on oatcakes and whiskey — Keats hated the oatcakes but enjoyed the whiskey.”—A delightful report on the walking tours of John Keats, in today’s Writer’s Alamanac.
This is simultaneously the most David Sedaris and most small English town thing to happen ever.
The picture is pretty great as well:
The history of authors and dump trucks is a long and illustrious one. When I worked at Sterling Publishing, I briefly worked on a campaign that included a rented and wrapped garbage truck. Here’s what it looked like:
Unfortunately, I do not believe that Little Brown UK was involved in the maiden voyage of the Pig Pen Sedaris.
In the early afternoon my mother was doing the dishes. I climbed onto the kitchen table, I suppose to play, and fell asleep there. I was drowsy and awake, though, as she lifted me up, carried me on her arms into the living room, and placed me on the davenport, but I pretended to be asleep the whole time, enjoying the luxury— was too big for such a privilege and just old enough to form my only memory of her carrying me. She’s still moving me to a softer place.
“He was too drunk to be interviewed," police told the local Sydsvenskan newspaper . "When he was arrested, he not only had comments about the author’s qualities, but also about the establishment in general, to say the very least.”—Serious literary criticism alive and well, “Man Seized For Setting Fire to Knausgård Book”