Thursday, March 31, 2016

the last book I ever read (Pat Conroy's My Losing Season, excerpt nine)

from My Losing Season by Pat Conroy:

“That’s one of the nicest moves I’ve ever seen,” I said to him as he turned to go back upcourt. Naturally, Esleeck would not talk to or acknowledge me because he, like all Furman players, was still ticked off that The Citadel had killed their horse. But the move, in memory, remains otherworldly just as it was when Esleeck pulled it on me that night so long ago.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

the last book I ever read (Pat Conroy's My Losing Season, excerpt eight)

from My Losing Season by Pat Conroy:

As Moates came toward me again and again, the one thing I knew for sure was that I would not have the help of my teammates. They had their men to guard and I had Johnny Moates. What they did not have was every other player on the Richmond team trying to free their man for a jump shot. I knew that Johnny, a shooter of immense gifts, would never take me to the hoop. His was a long-range game. He possessed the oddest jump shot I have ever seen but it was deadly. Moates would go off a double pick set on my right, and I would fall a step behind him. In that brief moment, Moates would take to the air in a mongoose-quick movement and bring the ball over his head and then launch it toward the basket with an unconventional high arching shot. I had my hand in Moates’s face the whole night, which made almost no difference to him. His shot would soar toward the rafters, go higher than any jump shot I had ever seen, backspinning beautifully, until the laws of gravity brought the ball rippling through the net with that sweetness of sound—the swish, like a flower inhaling grass.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

the last book I ever read (Pat Conroy's My Losing Season, excerpt seven)

from My Losing Season by Pat Conroy:

On the flight to New Orleans, I read A Streetcar Named Desire. I was kindling in the hands of Tennessee Williams. Because I was going to the mythical and flamboyant city for the first time, I wanted to read the play before I began prowling the back streets of the French Quarter searching for the chance encounters and rich images that would one day add salt and ambience to my future. All year long, I escaped into books the way a cat burglar would take to the woods at the first sign of trouble. My teammates thought my reading habits both odd and off-putting, another way of not inhabiting the world around me.

Monday, March 28, 2016

the last book I ever read (Pat Conroy's My Losing Season, excerpt six)

from My Losing Season by Pat Conroy:

Clemson murdered us that night of my sophomore year, 90-75, but the game was not nearly that close. I got in the game late in the second half and tried to lead the effort to catch up. When Wig Baumann told me to take the ball out of bounds, I received my first lessons in the manual of courtesies and virtues of Clemson’s fans. I had to jump among the raucous fans who churned along the sideline. Two of them pinched my butt hard and two more put cigarettes out on the back of my legs. I went flying toward a referee and shouted that someone had burned and pinched me, but I could not even hear my own voice above the crowd. The referee simply shrugged his shoulders, and I could see he carried some of the same terror of the Clemson crowd as Martini did. Five cigarette burns branded my legs before that game was over, and Clemson fans had depilated a third of the hair from the back of my legs.

In the final minute, I was racing after a ball going out of bounds when I dove for it near Clemson’s basket and slid along the floor and into the football team. Clemson guys dove out of the way and my wet jersey slalomed me along the slippery floor. I disappeared through a hole beneath the bleachers and the Clemson football team made me fight through their legs to get back onto the court. The crowd at Clemson was not just hostile; they were lunatic in their advocacy of the Tigers.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

the last book I ever read (Pat Conroy's My Losing Season, excerpt five)

from My Losing Season by Pat Conroy:

As I think back to the great luck that brought me to Camp Wahoo, gratitude washes over me in a sweet aura of memory. I know of no one connected with Wahoo who does not grow sappy and nostalgic when describing the experience. For two straight summers, I luxuriated in my passion for basketball, lived in the center of the game through the sunburned clinics where I assisted famous coaches and players teaching the fundamentals to young boys as eager as beagle puppies. As much as the enraptured boys who flocked around the coaches and players like moons orbiting Saturn, I listened to men like the incomparable Jerry West explain the rudiments of ball handling and shooting and defense. My face lit up with the same transformational pleasure as any boy in that camp when Jerry West shook my hand. When I fouled him in a counselors game, I went to bed that night with a voice ringing in my head, “I fouled Jerry West. I fouled Jerry West. I fouled Jerry West.” He carried himself with a kingly, benign dignity and treated the boys around him with gentleness and good humor. Jerry West is the reason I would like to take a baseball bat to the swollen heads of the ex-major-league ballplayers who charge money for their signatures at baseball-card shows, refusing even to acknowledge the child who approaches them in the tenderest posture of hero worship. Every boy who approached Jerry West was met with a gentlemanly kindess, a genuine engagement, and unfeigned courtesy. Even meeting my literary heroes—Gore Vidal, James Dickey, William Styron, Eudora Welty, Reynolds Price, Joyce Carol Oates, and others—pales in comparison to that day at Camp Wahoo when I met Jerry West, one of the ten greatest basketball players of all time, and fouled him during a counselors game. If you are one of those who think that great athletes shouldn’t have to be role models for the young boys and girls, I offer you this: I have tried to treat everyone I meet as Jerry West treated those bedazzled boys who approached him as he walked the grounds of Miller School. He taught me much about basketball, but he taught me much more about class and the responsibilities of fame.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

the last book I ever read (Pat Conroy's My Losing Season, excerpt four)

from My Losing Season by Pat Conroy:

With my father’s great gifts, he could’ve taught me everything about basketball I’d need to know, beginning that education in the schoolyard of St. James. Instead, he taught me nothing, and I went to The Citadel not knowing what a pivot was or how to block out on a rebound or how to set a pick to free a teammate for a shot or how to play defense. A beautiful shooter, a fierce rebounder, and a legendary defender, my father chose not to pass these ineffable skills on to any of his five sons. We grew up overshadowed by his legend and that legend did not lift a finger to help us toward any patch of light our own small achievements might have granted us. The Conroy boys learned their game in the streets. The Conroy girls grew up unnoticed and unpraised. Their brothers envied them.

Friday, March 25, 2016

the last book I ever read (Pat Conroy's My Losing Season, excerpt three)

from My Losing Season by Pat Conroy:

Auburn. It sounded so Big Time to a boy like me. “Good luck against Auburn, Pat,” my mother had said on the phone, and just hearing her invoke the great name made me feel the weight of my own self-worth. I thought the entire universe would be watching me and my teammates take on the War Eagles that day in 1966. Auburn was in the Southeastern Conference, one of the proudest and showiest in the country, and recruited big-name athletes for a big-time program. I loved it whenever little Citadel invoked the myth and story of Goliath and scheduled us to play the great schools. Whenever people ask me about the teams I played against in college, I always say, “Florida State, Auburn, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Clemson.” Never do I reply with “Erskine, Wofford, Newberry, and Presbyterian,” who were the patsies and sacrificial lambs of our schedule.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

the last book I ever read (Pat Conroy's My Losing Season, excerpt two)

from My Losing Season by Pat Conroy:

I put my hands on my waist as I watched Jimmy Halpin covering the freshman guard Jerry Hirsch. My hands. The subject was painful to me. I had the smallest hands I’d ever seen on a man. I was reading a book by Bob Cousy on what made him so great, and he shocked me by revealing that one of the absolute requirements for a point guard was large hands. I could not palm a basketball; I was forced to use both hands for balance and control. There was no way for me to do a one-handed layup, but I had perfected the art of pretending to do one. With great care and some legerdemain, I kept all attention away from this liability.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

the last book I ever read (Pat Conroy's My Losing Season, excerpt one)

from My Losing Season by Pat Conroy:

There had been an earlier prophetic incursion of Citadel basketball when I was foundering in the writing of Beach Music. Living alone on Fripp Island, I was in the middle of a most terrible breakdown where I could not shake the obsessional urge to end my life. I found myself shopping for pistols in pawn shops, studying the veins of wrists and throat, and learning how to get to the roof of the DeSoto Hilton in Savannah. Guilt and despair overwhelmed me and I could see no honorable way out of the mess I had made of my life. Finally I imagined a perfect suicide in which I rowed my johnboat out into the Atlantic at the precise moment of a spring tide’s turning, tied an anchor around my waist before I cut my wrists and carotid artery, then slipped into the water and out of the hours I could no longer bear. I had decided on this course when another Citadel point guard came roaring out of time to save my life.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

the last book I ever read (Dan Ephron's Killing a King, excerpt ten)

from Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel by Dan Ephron:

The funeral at noon the next day marked the largest gathering of international leaders the Middle East had ever known, with more than two thousand foreign guests. Nearly eighty countries had sent senior representatives, including Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar, and Tunisia. The headwear told the story: Jews in skullcaps but also men in kaffiyehs, turbans, military berets, and baseball caps. For a country that had suffered isolation in the region throughout its history, the display underscored just how far Israel had come in the preceding three years. Airport authorities canceled all regularly scheduled flights for several hours in order to free the runways for the government planes. Only Arafat among world leader was conspicuous by his absence. Israel decided it would be too difficult to protect him from potential assassins.

Clinton and the rest of the American delegation had arrived on Air Force One early in the morning. On the flight over, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Itamar Rabinovich, delivered a briefing to a select group on the situation in Israel. The notables, including former presidents Bush and Carter, wanted to know what to expect of Peres—could he assume Rabin’s security mantle and reassure Israelis about the risks involved in further peacemaking? Rabinovich explained that Peres had been a security figure throughout his career—the father of the Israeli nuclear program and a former defense minister. But the questions would come to see prescient in subsequent months. Rabinovich took in the luxury of the plane—all eighty seats were first-class recliners. George Shultz, the former secretary of state, leaned over and explained to the Israeli official that it was President Reagan who had ordered the upgrade. Only Reagan could spend lavishly on comforts for the president and get away with it, he said. Several rows behind them, House Speaker Newt Gingrich complained loudly about having been seated so far in the back.

Monday, March 21, 2016

the last book I ever read (Dan Ephron's Killing a King, excerpt nine)

from Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel by Dan Ephron:

Amir had no real plan. But as he drew closer to the stage, he spotted the prime minister’s two cars parked in the lot, the Cadillac and the Caprice. The lot teemed with people, including policemen and security guards but also roadies and drivers, and just bystanders hoping to catch a glimpse of some famous person. The police barricade blocked the entrance only partially and the men who guarded it seemed to come and go. Amir was about to make his way in when he spotted a fellow law student from Bar-Ilan, the careful note-taker Amit Hampel, and quickly retreated. Hampel would wonder what he was doing at a peace rally and why he was not wearing his skullcap, Amir thought. He might become suspicious.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

the last book I ever read (Dan Ephron's Killing a King, excerpt eight)

from Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel by Dan Ephron:

Israelis marked Yom Kippur the following week, the holiest day of the year. Religious Jews fasted and prayed while secular Israelis, many of them anyway, spent the day on their bicycles. With a virtual ban on motorized travel, cyclists of all ages own the roads for twenty-four hours every year, swarming main arteries, riding even on highways. And yet, for all the reverence (and recreation), the political spasms continued. Rabin still had to win the endorsement of parliament for the Oslo II agreement, and the vote was sure to be close. As the debate got under way in Jerusalem on October 6, protests around the city grew steadily more sinister and frenzied, with the aggression directed mainly at Rabin.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

the last book I ever read (Dan Ephron's Killing a King, excerpt seven)

from Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel by Dan Ephron:

Amir had no travel plans. With school out, he got a job as an armed guard at a summer camp run by the Jewish National Fund, a group that American Jews know for its fund-raising and tree-planting. Amir had a few thousand shekels in the bank—about a thousand dollars—some of which he was giving to a Haredi charity in small monthly installments. He might have made more money interning at a law office but the idea held no appeal. He’d put away his textbooks for the summer and was reading a novel his brother had recommended instead: Frederick Forsyth’s thriller The Day of the Jackal.

The book is a fictional account of a right-wing group’s effort to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle over his decision to end the war in Algeria and withdraw French forces. France’s colonization of Algeria differed markedly from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza—it had been under way for more than 130 years when Algeria finally gained independence in 1962. But to anyone steeped in French history, Rabin’s circumstances in the 1990s would have seemed remarkably similar to de Gaulle’s in the waning years of colonial rule in Algeria. Both men were war heroes who surprised their public by embracing peace programs. Both came to be seen as traitors by a segment of their countrymen—settlers and other right-wingers—for their willingness to cede territory. And both refused to take the threats against their personal safety seriously. Though the plot to kill de Gaulle as rendered in The Day of the Jackal is made up, the French leader survived several real assassination attempts.

Friday, March 18, 2016

the last book I ever read (Dan Ephron's Killing a King, excerpt six)

from Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel by Dan Ephron:

The probe did turn up details that helped explain why Goldstein had no trouble getting into the hall and killing so many Palestinians. On the morning of the massacre, only five soldiers or policemen were present at their posts instead of the requisite ten. The others failed to wake up for guard duty. One of the closed-circuit cameras didn’t operate and the others covered only parts of the shrine.

When the panel asked soldiers what they do when seeing settlers firing at Palestinians, their answer struck Shamgar as troubling: Most were under the impression that the rules of engagement forbade them from shooting at fellow Jews. So even if a soldier had entered the Muslim prayer hall and seen Goldstein gunning down the worshippers, it’s not clear that he would have stopped the attack. Here the commissionhad stumbled on a paradox of Israelti rule in the West Bank and Gaza. International law mandated that Israel protect the occupied population—the Palestinians. But in reality, the soldiers were there to guard the settlers. The commission instructed the army to remind troops of their duty to protect innocents on both sides. “The law must be enforced with rigor decisiveness and equality, against anyone who breaks it,” the report said.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

the last book I ever read (Dan Ephron's Killing a King, excerpt five)

from Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel by Dan Ephron:

The Afula bombing would come to be remembered as Hamas’s foray into suicide attacks—as the moment the group embraced the tactic in response to Goldstein’s mass murder. In truth, Hamas had launched several suicide bombers at Israeli targets over the preceding year. But while the group had confined itself mostly to assaults against soldiers and settlers in the West Bank and Gaza—attacks that usually left two or three people dead—from now on it would strike at the heart of Israel, aiming for as many civilian casualties as possible. The car bombing marked the deadliest attack by any group since 1989. Goldstein hadn’t spawned the suicide phenomenon in Hamas, but his massacre motivated the group to take it to new heights.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

the last book I ever read (Dan Ephron's Killing a King, excerpt four)

from Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel by Dan Ephron:

Nothing divided Israelis more sharply than the settlement enterprise. To supporters, the settlers were rekindling that old Zionist spirit, bolstering Israeli security by putting themselves on the front lines, and bearing the brunt of Palestinian violence. To detractors, their very presence in the West Bank and Gaza amounted to a provocation. It violated international law and gradually foreclosed on the possibility of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The religious among the settlers, including Shirion, added a messianic element to the enterprise. For them, the incredible conquest of 1967 could only have been the work of God and a sign that the messiah—the great Jewish leader who would redeem the world from war and suffering and rebuild the ancient Jewish Temple—would soon appear. Settling Judea and Samaria, the heart of biblical Israel, was a way to hasten the coming of the messiah.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

the last book I ever read (Dan Ephron's Killing a King, excerpt three)

from Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel by Dan Ephron:

Amir had volunteered for the Golani Brigade, a unit with a reputation for dealing harshly with Palestinians. In dispersing large protests, it was not uncommon for soldiers to separate individuals from the crowd and dispense harsh beatings. Private Amir, Company C, 13th Battalion, seemed to take special pleasure in it, as a member of his unit, Boaz Nagar, would later recall. “Yigal was the enforcer with a capital E. Hit them hard, hit here, push there. Destroy stuff. He enjoyed badgering them just for fun.” The behavior drew mostly praise from Amir’s officers.

There were other forms of harassment as well. Amir told friends later that on patrols in Gaza, he and his buddies liked to drive their jeeps straight at oncoming Palestinian vehicles in order to provoke a response. If a driver didn’t swerve to get out of their way, the soldiers would interpret the behavior as hostile and shoot at his windshield. Most of the time, the Palestinians would pull well off the road to let the soldiers pass.

Monday, March 14, 2016

the last book I ever read (Dan Ephron's Killing a King, excerpt two)

from Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel by Dan Ephron:

Jewish New Year is not the carousing party night that December 31 is for Americans. Israelis tend to spend the evening with family. And so as the sun dipped into the Mediterranean, Rabin and Leah headed across town to the home of daughter Dalia’s in-laws. The idea that the prime minister faced some new danger to his life for entering into a peace process with Arafat would not seriously dawn on the people around him for some time to come. Instead of summoning his driver, Rabin was in the habit of driving himself to private events on the weekends, protected by just a small security detail.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

the last book I ever read (Dan Ephron's Killing a King, excerpt one)

from Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel by Dan Ephron:

To head off any awkwardness between Arafat and Rabin, Indyk solicited the help of Bandar bin Sultan, a Saudi prince who had been serving as ambassador to the United States for a decade. An influential figure in Washington, Bandar had cultivated close ties with American elites, including members of the Bush family. He also had connections to most Arab leaders and knew Arafat personally. Indyk asked Bandar to brief Arafat about both the “no kissing rule,” as people in the White House were now calling it, and the matter of his attire. While Arafat was still en route to Washington, Bandar ordered several suits delivered to his hotel room.

With three hours left before the ceremony, the two issues—tiny representations of the sensitivities Israelis and Palestinians would have to overcome—were now occupying the president and his staff. At a meeting in the Oval Office, Clinton’s national security adviser, Anthony Lake, said he knew a way to thwart the traditional Arab embrace. It involved extending the right arm for a handshake while simultaneously planting the left hand firmly on the approaching person’s forearm. Done right, the maneuver would prevent the person from leaning in for a kiss. Clinton practiced it several times with his national security adviser, at one point raising his knee toward Lake’s groin to demonstrate his backup plan. If he could keep Arafat from kissing him onstage, Clinton thought, the old guerilla leader would not try to kiss Rabin.

Friday, March 11, 2016

the last book I ever read (Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann, excerpt eight)

from Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann:

She reaches deftly into the bucket, smooths the crush from a misshapen cigarette, lights up.

On the lawn, a sudden square of light falls from an upstairs window, like the frame of a painting thrown onto the ground. She finishes the cigarette in three hard draws.

A swell of revulsion stabs her stomach and she sways, dizzy with regret.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

the last book I ever read (Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann, excerpt seven)

from Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann:

She went to the fridge for a bottle of white wine, stoked her bedroom fire, put Sviatoslav Richter on the stereo, settled the pillows, pulled a blanket to her chest, opened the bottle and poured. The wine sounded gently against the glass, a kindling to sleep.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

the last book I ever read (Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann, excerpt six)

from Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann:

Sandi sits in the dark, wearing a watch strapped to the outside of her wrist, over her tan Nomex fireproof gloves, waiting for the countdown. There have been problems with the phone signal in the past—dropped calls, endless ringing, failed satellites.

It is too early yet to call but she keys the phone alive anyway and touches the ridges of the numbers, a rehearsal.

Out beyond the outpost, nothing but the dark and the white frost on the land. The stars themselves like bulletholes above her.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

the last book I ever read (Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann, excerpt five)

from Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann:

Elliot presses the phone down on the table, fingers some buttons, a piano player, even with his big meaty hands, a Richter of the keyboard.

Monday, March 7, 2016

the last book I ever read (Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann, excerpt four)

from Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann:

The digital detectives exit the twelve-camera matrix and click on the images one by one: the kitchen, the manager’s office, the hostess station, the dining room, the staff cloakroom, the rear courtyard. They layer them, bookend them, break them apart, look for tiny inconsistencies. Check the time stamps for offset. Zoom in, zoom out, build a dossier for themselves, examining the time close to the murder, 2:19 p.m., searching for anything out of the ordinary.

There, the coat-check girl, Laura Pedersen, with her book of tickets. There, the oyster shucker, Carvahlo, sharpening his knife. Here, the chef, Chad MacKenzie, adjusting his hair under his tall white hat. There, the manager, Christopher Eagleton, flipping through pages on a clipboard. There, Pedro Jiménez at the dishwashing station. Here, the dropped fork on the kitchen floor. There, the swing of the restaurant doors. Here, the busboy, Dandinho, guiding Mendelssohn, wiping the napkin against his lip. Here, Elliot calmly sipping his Cabernet. There, the last glass of Sancerre that Mendelssohn ever drank. Here, the waitress, Rosita Oosterhausen, tapping orders on a keyboard and later pinching her nipple through her blouse seconds before she delivers the check, a tried and trusted way to increase tips.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

the last book I ever read (Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann, excerpt three)

from Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann:

One of the things he used to love about New York City was the sheer bravado of it all. It used you up, spat you out. But the more the years went on, the more he began to think that he’d like a little respect from it. He had, after all, put his time in. Sat on the bench. Went to party meetings. A Supreme Court justice. A fancy title, but in reality he got every case under the Brooklyn sun, a clearing house, really, for murders, mobsters, shysters, shucksters. The random stabbings. The premeditated takedowns. Probate matters. Injunctions. Rescissions. An endless ream of paperwork. He stayed within the system even at the worst of times. Never strayed. At half the salary he would have made if he had gone into corporate law. After all that he would have liked just a little ripple of thanks from the peanut gallery. A moment longer in the crosswalk, please. He put his career as a lawyer in the bin for a life of public service, and what did he get? Some fresh young tchotchke in a black SUV with New Jersey license plates looking as if she’d like nothing more than to flatten him in one fell swoop. Windshield wipers slapping back and forth. Her petulant glare. Her lip gloss shining. An ex-Juicy. Drumming her fingers on the steering wheel. Don’t think I don’t see you, young lady. Just because I’m going along here as slow as molasses doesn’t mean that I’m not aware that you would very much like to put the pedal to the metal, scoop up poor Sally in the process, and drag us along Eighty-sixth Street, hanging to your bumper. A bit of respect, please. Objection sustained. There was a case he handled once of a kid from Bed-Stuy who was tied to the back of a garbage truck and dragged through the streets, he had been left lying on the ground for two hours afterwards, all the evidence was there but the jury wouldn’t convict. Rephrase. Move on. It was hard to leave a case like that behind. Haunted him for years. A young black boy, skidding along. Brutal days.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

the last book I ever read (Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann, excerpt two)

from Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann:

He stands at the edge of the crosswalk. Why is it that the traffic lights are designed to humiliate us? Once he could get across from one side to the other without the little neon man flashing at all. These days he can only get halfway before the red man starts his antics. There is nothing he hates more than when the cars start to inch forward. Mendelssohn, your time is up. Goodbye, thank you, now sidle off to Florida. Or North Carolina. Down there the neon man lasts infinitely longer. It’s a known fact.

Friday, March 4, 2016

the last book I ever read (Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann, excerpt one)

from Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann:

What is this godforsaken apartment worth anyway? Half a million twenty-seven years ago. Sold the brownstone on Willow Street and made the trek to the Upper East Side. All to make Eileen happy. She loved strolling by the Great Lawn, taking her ease around the reservoir, going on jaunts down to Greenberg’s bakery. She even put a mezuzah by the front door. To protect the investment as much as anything else. Two million dollars now, they say, two point two maybe, two point four, but they can’t get the heating on before five in the morning? We can put a black man in the White House but we still can’t get toasty? We can send a mission to Mars but we have to freeze a good man’s cojones off on East Eighty-sixth Street? We can fit our BlackBerrys into our heart-side pajama pockets, but we can’t guide the steam up through the walls without a racket?

Oh, but here it comes, here it comes. The first click of the day. As if there’s a man down there wrenching open the pipes. A second tick. A third. And then a whack. Crash bang wallop. Good man, Dante. A divine comedy indeed. Abandon all hope. Jazz in the heating pipes. If only. Wake me up, Thelonious Monk. Come dwell a while in my steampipes. Visit the basement while you’re at it.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

the last book I ever read (Frank's Home by Richard Nelson, excerpt four)

from Frank's Home by Richard Nelson:

SULLIVAN: Look who’s back. The banker.

KENNETH: Mister Wright—

FRANK (Correcting him): Frank.


FRANK: Frank.

KENNETH: Frank, Catherine and I—

FRANK: Maybe “Mister Wright” is better for now.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

the last book I ever read (Frank's Home by Richard Nelson, excerpt three)

from Frank's Home by Richard Nelson:

FRANK: Mister Millard called me one day. Fit to be tied. You could feel the steam coming through the telephone. “There’s a leak right over my desk! It’s leaking on my desk!” You know what I said to Mister Millard? (Turns to Kenneth) Move the desk.

(Frank smiles, Sullivan tries not to, Kenneth looks to Catherine confused.)

LLOYD: I never thought that was funny. Leaking roofs aren’t funny for the people who live under them. And they certainly aren’t funny now. With a collapsed hotel in Tokyo, and god knows how many people dead. (Pause) But my father doesn’t care about this. Look at him, is that a remorseful man?

FRANK: Lloyd was in charge of oversight; he was here while the Millard house was being built.

LLOYD: It wasn’t the construction.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

the last book I ever read (Frank's Home by Richard Nelson, excerpt two)

from Frank's Home by Richard Nelson:

MIRIAM: (To Helen): Where are you living?

HELEN: (Points): Hollyhock House.

MIRIAM: Just there? (She looks at Frank, then back to Helen) That close. Do you know that seconds after Miss Barnsdall left for Europe, Frank was over there rearranging the furniture? He likes his houses lived in in a certain way.