March 6, 2014
"Driving in darkness toward the next distant city, Author knows that what he’d just experienced was a gift. Really, how much richer could a writing life be than finding, even for one night, one true reader?"

— from What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander.

March 5, 2014
"I’m not sick!” Allen yells. “And I didn’t throw anything away! You want truth and justice and for everything to fit in its place. But some things are in between, Rabbi. They are not right or wrong. Only natural."

— from What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander.

March 1, 2014
"No one, in the era when the bourgeoisie was proclaiming, with enormous philosophical and literary effort, its entitlement to emancipation, recognized the pathological aspect of thought as acutely as Rousseau, who himself wished for nothing more than to be able to halt the wheels ceaselessly turning within his head."

— W.G. Sebald on Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in A Place in the Country.

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Filed under: wg sebald quotes books 
January 13, 2014
Book review: 'The Life and Poetry of Ted Kooser' by Mary K. Stillwell : Ground Zero

My review of Mary K. Stillwell’s biography of poet Ted Kooser is now online. It was also in this past Sunday’s paper.

December 6, 2013
"Sometimes, immersed in his books, there would come to him the awareness of all that he did not know, of all that he had not read; and the serenity for which he labored was shattered as he realized the little time he had in life to read so much, to learn what he had to know."

— from “Stoner” by John Edward Williams

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Filed under: books reading stoner 
November 6, 2013
"“Nothing lasts,” Harold would say. “For a fossil to happen is a miracle. One in fifty million. The rest of us? We disappear into the grass, into beetles, into worms. Into ribbons of light.” It’s the rarest thing, Luvo thinks, that gets preserved, that does not get erased, broken down…"

— from “Memory Wall” by Anthony Doerr

July 5, 2013
"It’s always the most conventional things that contain the largest measure of madness."

— Ranz, from A Heart So White by Javier Marias.

June 24, 2013
"[H]ow could an instrument as blunted as language express one as strange and fleeting at Natasha? Metaphors failed her; Natasha could not be summarized. What she possessed were losses: the loss of Natasha’s laugh, the loss of Natasha’s scorn, the loss of Natasha’s begrudging love…"

— from A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra.

June 8, 2013
"The rebels were the state, and overnight. A transition that was not unlike a man waking up to discover he’d somehow married his mistress."

— from Telex from Cuba by Rachel Kushner

May 12, 2013
"…and wasn’t life full of layers and nuances, colored all kinds of shades of gray, and the way you felt about something when you were twenty or thirty or forty was not how you would feel about something when you were fifty or sixty or seventy—he was nearly seventy!—and if only he could explain to her that regret can come at any time in your life, when you least expect it, and then you are stuck with it forever."

— from The Middlesteinsby Jami Attenberg