Category Archives: books

All Bark and No Bite

It is remarkable, that persons who speculate the most boldly often conform with the most perfect quietude to the external regulations of society.

—Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

(Via.)

Purple Rain

Albums reimagined as book covers.

Purple Rain

(Via.)

Gay Talese’s Daily Routine

When I am writing, each morning at around eight o’clock I am at my desk with a tray of muffins and a thermos filled with hot coffee at my side, and I sit working for four hours and then leave for a quick lunch at a coffee shop, followed perhaps by a set or two of tennis. By 4:00 p.m. I am back at my desk revising, discarding, or adding to what I had written earlier. At 8:00 I am contemplating the numbing predinner delight of a dry gin martini.

—Gay Talese, A Writer’s Life

Previous Gay Talese posts: Gay Talese’s Office, Dressed for a Dungeon, “I Don’t Use Notebooks. I Use Shirt Boards,” and The Species of Tailoring Is Threatened by the Outside World.

That’s Wonderful

3330228604_fec855ea76

I like bars just after they open for the evening. When the air inside is still cool and clean and everything is shiny and the barkeep is giving himself that last look in the mirror to see if his tie is straight and his hair is smooth. I like the neat bottles on the bar back and the lovely shining glasses and the anticipation. I like to watch the man mix the first one of the evening and put it down on a crisp mat and put the little folded napkin beside it. I like to taste it slowly. The first quiet drink of the evening in a quiet bar – that’s wonderful.

—Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye

(Quote via Coudal. Image by Robert S. Donovan.)

Daily Schedules and Moral Resolutions

Benjamin Franklin, late 18th century:

bfschedule

Jay Gatsby (née James Gatz), early 20th century:

jgschedule

David Foster Wallace, late 20th century:

2–3 hours a day in writing
Up at 8–9
Only a couple late nights a week
Daily exercise
Minimum time spent teaching
2 nights/week spent with other friends
5 [recovery meetings a] week
Church

Acute

There was an opulent sunset. I was standing under an acacia in bloom and the words ‘shower of gold’ came into my mind, followed by a surge of feeling. I call it greed, but it was more a feeling of wanting a surplus in my life, wanting to have too much of something, for a change. I didn’t want to be a candidate anymore, not for a doctorate or anything else: I wanted to be at the next level, where things would come to me, accrue to me. It was acute.

—Norman Rush, Mating

(Via.)

Final Exam Prank Idea

Via Charles Shields’s And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life comes this great prank idea from Kurt Vonnegut:

He came up with a prank to ridicule his classmates’ angst over grades. Taking a seat for a final exam at midyear in a class he wasn’t registered for, he waited until everyone was deep into the test. Then with a groan of disgust, he ripped the exam to shreds, stalked up the aisle, and tossed the pieces of paper into the astonished instructor’s face, storming out the classroom door. It started a fad among the student body that lasted a few semesters.

It’s getting to be final exam time, and though teacherly propriety prevents me from endorsing this prank outright, I do sort of think it would be cool if it caught on.

That Isn’t the Point

The summer evening together that had left its mark on the memory of both the young man and woman had, when looked at quite sensibly, been rather stupidly spent. They had walked out of town along a country road. Then they had stopped by a fence near the field of young corn and George had taken off his coat and let it hang on his arm. “Well, I’ve stayed here in Winesburg – yes – I’ve not yet gone away but I’m growing up,” he had said. “I’ve been reading books and I’ve been thinking. I’m going to try to amount to something in life.

“Well,” he explained, “that isn’t the point. Perhaps I’d better quit talking.”

—Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio

All the Single Ladies

There is a more important truth that magazines never deal with, that single women are too brainwashed to figure out, that married women know but won’t admit, that married men and single men endorse in a body, and that is that the single woman, far from being a creature to be pitied and patronized, is emerging as the newest glamour girl of our times.

Helen Gurley Brown, Sex and the Single Girl (1962)

Fictitious Dishes

Fictitious Dishes – a series of meals from novels cooked and photographed by Dinah Fried. Here’s the one for Moby Dick:

(Via NYPL Wire.)