Excerpt from Franny and Zooey

He thought this over, then gave a mild snort. “I’d like to see him do it, the bastard.” He took a drag on his cigar. “Everybody in this family gets his goddam religion in a different package,” he commented, with a notable absence of awe in his tone. “Walt was a hot one. Walt and Boo Boo had the hottest religious philosophies in the family.” He dragged on his cigar, as if to offset being amused when he didn’t care to be.

“Walt once told Walker that everybody in the family must have piled up one helluva lot of bad karma in his past incarnations. He had a theory, Walt, that the religious life, and all the agony that goes with it, is just something God sicks on people who have the gall to accuse Him of having created an ugly world.”

Excerpt from Holidays On Ice

Santaland Diaries:: David Sedaris

I Photo Elfed all day for a variety of Santas and it struck me that many of the parents don’t allow their children to speak at all. A child sits upon Santa’s lap and the parent say, “All right now, Amber, tell Santa what you want. Tell him you want a Baby Alive and My Pretty Ballerina and that winter coat you saw in the catalog.”

        The parents name the gifts they have already bought. They don’t want to hear the word “pony,” or “television set,” so they talk through the entire visit, placing words in the child’s mouth. When the child hops off the lap, the parents address their children, each and every time, with, “What do you say to Santa?”

        The child says, “Thank you, Santa.”

         It is sad because you would like to believe that everyone is unique and then they disappoint you every time by being exactly the same, asking for the same things, reciting the exact same lines as though they have been handed a script. 

A new novel takes vengeance on Google, Facebook

A new novel takes vengeance on Google, Facebook

Excerpt from You Can’t Go Home Again

Perhaps this is our strange and haunting paradox here in America — that we are fixed and certain only when we are in movement. At any rate, that is how it seemed to young George Webber, who was never so assured of his purpose as when he was going somewhere on a train. And he never had the sense of home so much as when he felt that he was going there. It was only when he got there that his homelessness began.

:: Thomas Wolfe

Excerpt (II) from On The Road – Jack Kerouac

She was a nice little girl, simple and true, and tremendously frightened of sex. I told her it was beautiful. I wanted to prove this to her. She let me prove it, but I was too impatient and proved nothing. She sighed in the dark.

“What do you want out of life?” I asked, and I used to ask that all the time of girls.

“I don’t know,” she said. “Just wait on tables and try to get along.” She yawned. I put my hand over her mouth and told her not to yawn. I tried to tell her how excited I was about life and the things we could do together; saying that, and planning to leave Denver in two days. She turned wearily. We lay on our backs, looking at the ceiling and wondering what God had wrought when He made life so sad. We made vague plans to meet in Frisco.

(I.10.9, I.10.10).

Excerpt from The Year of Magical Thinking

We are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality, even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. As we were. As we are no longer. As we will one day not be at all.

Joan Didion – The Year of Magical Thinking

Excerpt from Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

David Mitchell: “Letters From Zedelghem”

Been thinking of my grandfather, whose wayward brilliance skipped my father’s generation. Once, he showed me an aquatint of a certain Siamese temple. Don’t recall its name, but ever since a disciple of the Buddha preached on the spot centuries ago, every bandit king, tyrant, and monarch of that kingdom has enhanced it with marble towers, scented arboretums, gold-leafed domes, lavished murals on its vaulted ceilings, set emeralds into the eyes of its statuettes. When the temple finally equals its counterpart in the Pure Land, so the story goes, that day humanity shall have fulfilled its purpose, and Time itself shall come to an end.

To men like Ayrs, it occurs to me, this temple is civilization. The masses, slaves, peasants, and foot soldiers exist in the cracks of its flagstones, ignorant even of their ignorance. Not so the great statesmen, scientists, artists, and most of all, the composers of the age, any age, who are civilization’s architects, masons, and priests. Ayrs sees our role is to make civilization ever more resplendent. My employer’s profoundest, or only, wish is to create a minaret that inheritors of Progress a thousand years from now will point to and say, “Look, there is Vyvyan Ayrs!”

How vulgar, this hankering after immortality, how vain, how false. Composers are merely scribblers of cave paintings. One writes music because winter is eternal and because, if one didn’t, the wolves and blizzards would be at one’s throat all the sooner.

Excerpt from Cloud Atlas (II)

David Mitchell: “Letters From Zedelghem”

After supper, the three of us might listen to the wireless if there is a broadcast that passes muster, otherwise it will be recordings on the gramophone (an His Master’s Voice table model in an oak box), usually Ayrs’s own major works conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham. When we have visitors, there will be conversation or a little chamber music. Other nights, Ayrs likes me to read to him poetry, especially his beloved Keats. He whispers the verses as I recite, as if his voice is leaning on mine.