Thursday, August 25, 2011


The man who sat next to me on the bench was reading a well-worn paperback of a lesser Hemingway, wore a woolen hat, the type one associates with aged chauffeurs in British period dramas, seemed to have no intention of leaving the bench anytime this afternoon. While I had no desire for there to be witnesses to the return of the items, all of the other benches were occupied by au pairs pushing strollers or the obviously homeless and potentially schizophrenic, and the message specified the benches by the fountain. I looked about at the walkers in the park, curious how many would be arriving, what age, ethnicity, gender, and shrugged at the unimportance of it all. Who they were wasn't my business; who I was wasn't their business.

tornadoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes? In rural western Massachusetts?

Les livres ne se font pas comme les enfants, mais comme les pyramides, avec un dessein prémédité, et en apportant des grands blocs l’un par-dessus l’autre, à force de reins, de temps et de sueur, et ça ne sert à rien ! Et ça reste dans le désert ! Mais en le dominant prodigieusement. Les chacals pissent en bas et les bourgeois montent dessus, etc., continue la comparaison. (Gustave Flaubert, cited in Albert Thibaudet’s Gustave Flaubert, 136)

Translation from Flaubert's Parrot / Julian Barnes:

Books aren’t made the way babies are: they are made like pyramids. There’s some long-pondered plan, and then great blocks of stone are placed one on top of the other, and it’s back-breaking, sweaty, time-consuming work. And all to no purpose! It just stands like that in the desert! But it towers over it prodigiously. Jackals piss at the base of it, and bourgeois clamber to the top of it, etc. Continue this comparison.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


This was my first expedition, and, in the manner of all novices, I had researched and trained thoroughly, but for all the wrong things. In addition to hours spent at the shooting range and every first aid course offered by the Red Cross, I had enrolled in courses at the local college the previous semester, on natural history and folklore and literature and language for the region we were headed into. Something nagging at the back of my mind suggested that I had missed the most important considerations. There's always an annoying little voice whispering untimely reminders, and I just stopped listening to it at one point, turned off my inner ear to the pleas of the inner voice.

a brilliant brisk book with undertones of warm and fuzzy
How to keep your Volkswagen alive : a novel / Christopher Boucher.
paired with an acidic diversion
The Trip (Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon)

in the five elements system, there are also five seasons. This is the extra inning: late summer, the melancholy ripening and cool calm evenings

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

under the table

There was a boy who had grown to be a man, never leaving the nursery except for his brisk twice daily strolls around the gardens, still eating only egg puddings. He had received the schooling to be a great pilot, but his first and only appearance at the adults' table had been so dire to not only send him away for life, but to even exile his parents from social dinners for over six months. She thought it had been the soup that was his failing, being raised to see through the clear skies and faltering at the turbulent depths of the soup tureen, but she wasn't really certain what had transpired next.
A place of my own : the education of an amateur builder / Michael Pollan

one day the humidity will drop and the laundry will dry

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Finally, there was a bus, an old, wheezing behemoth, rattling apart and without shock absorbers, driven by a man in a haz-mat suit with a gun at his shoulder, filled with what could have been ghosts, beings so vacant, detached, and fearful that they were scarcely human. The bus stopped every few miles at unmarked intersections; there seemed to be an unwritten code of where and when, since even through the randomness of the times and locations there was always a person or two leaving or arriving on board, not speaking a word to the driver, not signalling for other stops along the route. They treated each other with the same wary skepticism I was subject to, there were no alliances between riders, no camaraderie or conversation. Everyone carried the appearance of the forgotten: mismatched, worn, dirty clothes; matted hair; often barefoot; covered in bites and scratches originating from a source I could not even begin to imagine.
The Seamstress and the Wind / César Aira

loss of feeling in fingers from swimming in cold New England water