“If you want a high literary experience, to be rocked between emotional extremes by a writer with perfect pitch in any realm, you won’t do better than this collection of letters by an impoverished alcoholic, who died with two bedraggled suitcases to his name.”—The Daily Beast, “Joseph Roth’s Letters Reveal a Great Forgotten Writer”
“I think it’s really important to go to your room and sit there. I couldn’t mean that more seriously. The amateur writer only writes when something big happens in his or her life. Unless you have a better life than I do, you would write only three or four poems a year. So you go to your room and you wait for something to happen. You do that regularly.”—From A Conversation With Stephen Dunn
“I am unhappy, confused, wholly unable to leave the four walls I’ve thrown up around me and the book, though it feels more like a mountain range in which I wander about in terror. One day, everything comes off, the next day it’s all shit. Tricky, treacherous business.”—
Joseph Roth remarking to his friend Friedrich Traugott Gubler on the progress of his novel-in-progress, The Radetzky March.
The Lifespan of a Fact. John D'Agata (author). Jim Fingal (fact checker). In stores 2/27/12.
Jim Fingal:John, do you have a source for this?
John D'Agata:I heard about this from a woman I interviewed at the Aztec Inn.
Jim:Can you send me a copy of your notes from this interview?
John:I didn't keep notes from the interview.
Jim:To be honest, I suspect your "casual" interviewing strategy is going to be a problem, because it means that we're not going to have anything that can remotely come close to proving what you've written.
John:Well it might be a problem, but with all due respect, it's your problem, Jim, not mine. I'm not a reporter, and I have never claimed to be a reporter, and the magazine [The Believer] took on this project with the understanding that I have no interest in pretending to be a reporter or in producing journalism.
Jim:Well, OK...I guess...but this still seems to violate about ten different rules of journalistic integrity.
John:I'm not sure that matters, Jim. This is an essay, so journalistic rules don't belong here.
Jim:I'm not sure it's going to be quite that easy.
Norton Tumblr:Did we get your attention? http://books.wwnorton.com/books/the-lifespan-of-a-fact/
I had studied the background of the chitlin’ circuit as best I could in preparation for meeting Sax Kari, but found nothing definitive on its origins. I did, however, notice a trend in many of the books that mentioned the circuit. Artists were relegated to the chitlin’ circuit. Working it was a grind. Even its title is depressing, derived from what black people call a hog’s small intestine, the cuisine of relegation. This chitlin’ circuit seemed to be an unpleasant place, located in our nations bowels, and better left unexplored. Sax’s stories about the inventor and beginning of the circuit, however, revealed people of vision and an industry of intricate, far-reaching design that struck me as anything but shameful.
"Eventually I realized that Rick likes living in that hole of his own making, and the only way I could be in a relationship with him was to get down in there too. But it wasn’t my hole. It was never my hole. Once I stopped believing when he said I was the cause of his trouble, it was easy as can be to climb out."
The air around her sentence felt charged with prophecy, like when I’d bring a guy home from college and my mom would say something like, “Any boy who wears a hat at the dinner table will never be faithful,” and though I didn’t want her to turn out to be right, she somehow already was.
First Lines from New Books Out Today: February 6, 2012
"We are two hours out of Sydney when the pilot’s voice comes over the PA system. ‘Ladies and Gentlemen,’ he begins, ‘I’m sorry to tell you this, but our instruments up here are indicating fuel system failure. We’re on the phone with central in Chicago—they are advising us—and we’ve contacted Sydney air traffic to let them know we’re headed back. You can probably tell we’re making a big turn right now, and we’re going to get you on the ground just as quickly as we can.’" Contents May Have Shifted: A Novel by Pam Houston
"It is enough to enter the templar halls of museums, for
"(1989) Please, she whispers, how may I help you? The screen lights up with her voice. A room you enter, numbers your fingers, heated, sterile almost. The phone beside her never rings, like a toy, like a prop. My father lifts the receiver in the night, speaks into it, asks, Where’s the money? asks, Why can’t I sleep? asks,Who left me outside?The phone rings on a desk when he lifts it, the desk somewhere in Texas, someone is always supposed to be at that desk but no one ever is, not at night. A machine speaks while my father tries to speak, it doesn’t listen, it only speaks, my father’s face reflected dimly in the screen.” Being Flynn by Nick Flynn
"I did not look into the mirror, not yet, not in the morning. My body was still so small and I only looked at it right after the weights when my muscles were filled with blood. There came the tap of my father’s horn outside. We were going running together, but what about shoes? All I owned were a pair of Dingo boots, the square-toed kind with the brass ring cinched in at the ankle. The horn tapped again." Townie: A Memoir by Andre Dubus III
"There is a good chance you bought this book online. You may have even researched it and placed the order at work. You knew that, technically, you’re not supposed to prowl Amazon on company time, but you have become so good at using the Internet to multitask that you also know that a half hour of title browsing in the office will ultimately have little effect on your day’s productivity." Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the E-Personality by Elias Aboujaoude
"For I was born, too, in the stunted winter of History. For I, too, desired the Lion’s mouth split & the world that is not ours, and the wounded children set free to their turnstiles of wonder. I, too, have blinked speechless at the valleys of corpses, wished Scriabin’s ‘Black Mass’ in the Executioner’s ear.” Holding Company: Poems by Major Jackson
Over the course of my life I have been lucky enough to meet several people (some have left, others have stuck around) with whom I have shared a connection that was recognized immediately. Soul mates, if you will. But not in the romantic, one person who was put on this earth just for me, way. Because I don’t believe in that. But more in the you are my kindred spirit, a friend, and you understand because you’ve been there too way. I think it’s the sad parts, the scars, the lonely places in our histories that tie us together more often than the happy things. It is equal parts terrifying and a huge relief to know someone before you even really know them. You know?
He became one of the most infamous depression-era bank robbers, but here’s how he entered the world:
"Dr. Richard S. Bradley, who rode his buggy from the nearby community of Folsom to deliver the baby at the Floyd home, charged a fee of $7.50. The Floyd’s paid every last cent, but it took five installments—two dollars initially, followed by one dollar in paper currency, a dollar and twenty-five cents worth of corn, two dollars in greenbacks, and a final payment of a dollar and a quarter that was not made until November, nine months after the boy’s birth."
Heft is now available as an e-book, orders from Amazon have shipped, and the book will be in stores on Monday. Leading up to the book’s release, I’ll be posting daily excerpts. I hope they’ll give you some idea of what the book’s all about. And THANK YOU for reading!
“Some writers’ lives are estimable, some enviable, some exemplary. And some send a shudder of gratitude down the spine that this life happened to somebody else. It isn’t necessarily about success or acclaim — most rational people would very much prefer to have had Rimbaud’s life rather than Somerset Maugham’s. But sometimes it is. In the ranks of Mephistophelean terror, there are few more frightening stories than the life of the Austrian novelist Joseph Roth.”—Philip Hensher, author of The Northern Clemency, reviewsJoseph Roth: A Life in Letters in The Spectator
“It is odd enough that my own individual taste is for quite another class of novels than those which I myself am able to write. If I were to meet with such books as mine by any other writer, I don’t believe I should be able to get through them. Have you ever read the novels of Anthony Trollope? They precisely suit my taste; solid and substantial, written on strength of beef and through the inspiration of ale, and just as real as if some giant had hewn a great lump out of the earth, and put it under a glass case, with all its inhabitants going about their daily business, and not suspecting that they were made a show of.”—Nathaniel Hawthorne on Anthony Trollope
“Sunday came. The sun baptised the sea. O tireless, sleepless sun! It burned and kissed things. It baked the ship into a loose, disjointed state. Only the brave hoarse breezes at dusk prevented it from leaving her so. It refused to keep things glued. It fried sores and baked bunions, browned and blackened faces, reddened and blistered eyes. It lured to the breast of the sea sleepy sharks ready to pounce upon prey.”—Eric Walrond, Tropic Death
“The best career choices for goats? Actor, gardener, or beachcomber. Let’s consider these options for Newt the goat, just in case things don’t pan out for him in this year of the dragon.”—Yunte Huang in The Week
First Lines from New Books Out Today, January 30, 2012
"On October 13, 1991 my grandparents killed themselves. It was a Sunday. Not really the ideal day of the week for suicide." An Exclusive Love: A Memoir by Johanna Adorjan, translated by Althea Bell
"By the time he received the Nobel Prize in 1975, Eugenio Montale was widely recognized as a poet who had revolutionized the art in his native Italy, and whose voice reverberated among the great international moderns: Eliot, Pound, and Valery, along with Yeats and Cavafy." The Collected Poems of Eugenio Montale, 1925 - 1977 translated by William Arrowsmith and edited by Rosanna Warren
"This book has been written for anyone who has to deal with people on a daily basis. Whether you are a teacher, a professor, a pilot or a top manager, you will be confronted by the same questions time and again: How do I make the right decision? How can I motivate myself or my team? How can I change things? How can I work more efficiently? And on a more personal: What do my friends reveal about me? Do I live in the here and now? What do I want?" The Decision Book: 50 Models for Strategic Thinking by Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschappeler
"I live in a lovely place. It is a small farm, just a few acres, but it is beautiful. I created this farm over many years, and it is still evolving, and will continue to for many years hence. I never intended to be a farmer and yet it feels right. I enjoy a connection to the land, to the animals here, and I am endlessly thrilled to make food; to feed people." Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live Off the Land by Kurt Timmermeister
From her window marshland stretched for miles. If not for egrets and gulls, it reminded her of the moors behind the parsonage, how the fog often hovered and descended as if sheltering some sweet compulsion the age was not ready to see. On clear days the jagged skyline of Atlantic City was visible—Atlantic City, where all compulsions had a home.
"Everything’s too easy now," she said to her neighbor, “nothing resisted, nothing gained.” Once, at eighteen, she dreamed of London’s proud salons glowing with brilliant fires and dazzling chandeliers. Already her own person—passionate, assertive— soon she’d create a governess insistent on rights equal to those above her rank. “The dangerous picture
of a natural heart,” one offended critic carped. She’d failed, he said, to let religion reign over the passions and, worse, she was a woman. Now she was amazed at what women had, doubly amazed at what they didn’t. But she hadn’t come back to complain or haunt. Her house on the bay was modest, adequate.
It need not accommodate brilliant sisters or dissolute brothers, spirits lost or fallen. Feminists would pay homage, praise her honesty and courage. Rarely was she pleased. After all, she was an artist; to speak of honesty in art, she knew, was somewhat beside the point. And she had married, had even learned to respect
the weakness in men, those qualities they called their strengths. Whatever the struggle, she wanted men included. Charlotte missed reading chapters to Emily, Emily reading chapters to her. As ever, though, she’d try to convert present into presence, something unsung sung, some uprush of desire frankly acknowledged, even in this, her new excuse for a body.
James Barr has written a history of the rivalry between France and Britain for dominance in the Middle East as framed by the First and the Second World Wars…
And there he keeps us for the next 30 years, not hovering with the historians in high Olympic judgement on the fates of nations, but with the journalists and spies at the very grubby coalface of foreign policy, made up of threat and counter-threat, hidden dreams, desire for revenge, inter-departmental rivalry and the jealousy of the bureaucratic chiefs in the capitals for their men on the ground. I found the entire book most horribly addictive, even if the ultimate picture it paints of the actions of the two Western powers is sordid, muddled and hypocritical
“Instantly I felt that old surge come back, that seizing of my own life on my own terms. It is such a physical thing, like the time I had my forearm shattered and the nurse came in every four hours on the dot to give me a shot of morphine—that’s how physical—and I look down at the glacier and the ice-ridged peaks that go on forever behind it and say, Remember this remember this remember this the next time you think it’s over, because some man, or some hope, or some life takes away instead of gives. Remember this and get on an airplane, a small one if possible, because it always works.”—Pam Houston, Contents May Have Shifted