patronize our friends
Oscar Wilde’s The Decay of Lying.
“One of the chief causes that can be assigned for the curiously commonplace character of most of the literature of our age is undoubtedly the decline of Lying as an art, a science, and a social pleasure.
“The ancient historians gave us delightful fiction in the form of fact; the modern novelist presents us with dull facts under the guise of fiction.”
Hadley Freeman in The Irish Times.
“When Woody Allen was twenty, comedy writer Danny Simon taught him a few rules about comedy, the most important of which was this: always trust your own judgment, because external opinion is meaningless.”
turned out to BE a play
but a stone's throw
They defied description. They had a certain je ne sais quoi.
They came, they saw, they were a little vague on the details. They stayed under the radar, between the lines, open to interpretation. They were the stuff of dreams. They did not leave a message. They resisted categorization, remained difficult to grasp, proved hard to pin down, were reluctant to lend themselves to definition. They did not respond to calls from this reporter. They were Grandfather’s axe, the sum minus the parts, what was there before the Big Bang. In the beginning was the Word, and they were it, or rather its nuance. Hard to peg, tough to nail down, slip’d twixt cup and lip, lost in translation, they were what was there once you were freed from your own projections.
But you knew them when you saw them. They left everything to the imagination. They left no aftertaste. They were The Ineffables.
Sarah Silverman has such beautiful guts.
She said: “If someone says, ‘Don’t say that,’ it’s all I want to say. “And also, something I learned in therapy… which is darkness can’t exist in the light, and then that made me think of something that Mr. Rogers said, which is, ‘If it’s mentionable, it’s manageable.’”
we sent you
all mrs. goblington's
notes UNDERWRITTEN By
We’ve had word from Mrs. Goblington.
I find myself in a House of Many Mansions,
Large Home of a Kind.
Jesus made the Chattering Demons leave the Abject Man.
In Practice this does Not Happen All at Once.
They appear before me in
The Communion of Consciousness,.
I welcome their appearance in Light of Day.
When Life doth Give You Demons,
Sayeth the Lord,
But in Dark of Night
They have me.
[We always look forward to your notes, Mrs. Goblington, and think of you often.]
In the mailbox, a big thick envelope containing a Virginia Quarterly Review. We scan the contributors listed on the cover, and there’s Koye’s name. Koye Oyedeji was one of the waiters at Bread Loaf, and he was in our workshop. When Bread Loaf later sent out the link to mp3s of Waiter Readings, we played Koye’s three-minute reading for our teenage nephew as he was in the kitchen making a sandwich. He looked up from his sandwich. “That’s unshakable writing,” he said.
If Koye were here, we would have him sign our copy of VQR, and we would offer him the most troublesome praise one human being can offer another.
“You,” we would say, “should write a novel.”
visit their famous
syn·op·sis : (sĭ-nŏp′sĭs) : noun.
It comes from the Greek τύπος for the substance left in your hand once you’ve squeezed all the blood from a stone.
A synopsis serves to communicate the heart of a novel in precisely the same way your resume is useful for seducing a lover.
you night owls
might we recommend
Just beyond Horror is Wonder.
Tonight you stop by the big old indie bookstore cattycorner from Union Station. It’s just before closing, but you only want to pop upstairs and see if the new Joshua Ferris is in. You’re hardly in the door when the woman comes on the public address system to say the store closes in ten minutes.
It’s as you’re crossing the second floor’s maze of towering stacks you notice it. Where the Horror section ends and Young Adult begins, there’s a narrow gap between shelf the units. It shouldn’t strike you as any kind of egress. You’d have to turn sideways to squeeze through. But you can see shelved books beyond, and thumb-tacked to the end cap of the Horror unit is the mailing face of a postcard. On it is a ballpoint-drawn arrow pointing the way through, and written under this, in thin letters with over-emphatic serifs, is old children.
You take a peek.
It is a snug little reading room no bigger than a service elevator, walled in solid on all sides with books. The only exit is the narrow slot you’re standing in. Surely no fire inspector ever laid eyes on this.
On a beach-towel sized oriental rug, two low armchairs crowd a tiny table with a parchment-shade reading lamp. In the pool of light beneath the lamp, a ceramic mug from the bookstore’s coffee bar sits on a map folded to serve as a coaster.
It is a snug little reading room no bigger than a service elevator, walled in solid on all sides with books. The only exit is the narrow slot you’re standing in. Surely no fire inspector ever laid eyes on this.On a beach-towel sized oriental rug, two low armchairs crowd a tiny table with a parchment-shade reading lamp. In the pool of light beneath the lamp, a ceramic mug from the bookstore’s coffee bar sits on a map folded to serve as a coaster.
And maybe you’d thought fire because out of the corner of your eye you registered unawares the little hearth installed bottom middle of the wall on your right. In it burns a silent blaze of paper-birch logs. A fake fire, of course — there’s no chimney above — but an awfully good one, no hiss, and a green and purple flame intermittently wags up and down from the end of the backwall log. It’s the first satisfying artificial fireplace you’ve seen, and slipping into the room for a better look you feel its warmth on your face and smell woodsmoke that brings to mind a night you spent in a great house when you must have been very small, where they had a servants’ stairway off the kitchen, and streetlamps strung throughout gardens, and a great stable with four wings and what you believe was a dance floor in the middle.
By now you’re taking in the shelf labels, written in the same hand as the postcard: CLASSICAL WONDER, ANAGOGIC WONDER, MAGICAL REALISM. Well, you recognize the last one.
The ceiling lights flash twice, and woman says the store will close in five minutes.
The categories make no obvious sense. Here’s the C.S. Lewises stuck next to the Murakamis. An adjoining shelf is taken up by the new Harry Potters, the pricey ones adults buy to replace the old hardcovers falling apart; these overbear a few thin volumes of Harvey by Mary Chase. Above this on a top shelf, turned outward to display its cover, is the latest Phillip Pullman, and next to that, A Wind in the Willows, the edition with illustrations by A.E. Shepard. And adjacent, a bunch of Gaimans.
The overhead lights flicker twice, then go dim. You’ll have only the sconces along the walls now to light your way out and down, and anyway you can’t make out the spines anymore, not in the firelight and glow from the little lamp.
Steam rises from the coffee cup. Now you notice, in the armchair nearer the fire, how sunken the seat cushion is, not by the varied behinds of many hours.
No, you’re looking at a pair of rounded, noticeably crisp depressions in the cushion made by an invisible sitter.