Thursday, January 31, 2019

the last book I ever read (Kent Haruf's Plainsong, excerpt nine)

from Plainsong by Kent Haruf:

It was very quiet in their aunt’s apartment. Their aunt was a supervisory clerk in the municipal court system with an office in the civic center downtown, and she had been there for twenty-three years and as a result she had developed a stark view of humanity and its vagaries and the multitude of ways it found to commit crimes. She had been married once, for three months, and since that time had never considered marrying anyone again. She was left with two passions: a fat yellow neutered cat named Theodore and the television soap opera that came on at one o’clock every weekday while she was at work, a program she taped religiously and watched without fail every night when she was home again.

The boys were bored right away. Their mother had seemed better, but after the silent spells began she appeared defeated again and went back to bed, and their aunt told them they must be quiet and let her rest. This was after she’d gone into their mother’s room one evening and they’d talked for an hour behind the closed door, and then she had come back out and said, You will have to be quiet and let her rest.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

the last book I ever read (Kent Haruf's Plainsong, excerpt eight)

from Plainsong by Kent Haruf:

And so the two McPheron brothers went on to discuss slaughter cattle and choice steers, heifers and feeder calves, explaining these too, and between the three of them they discussed these matters thoroughly, late into the evening. Talking. Conversing. Venturing out into various other matters a little too. The two old men and the seventeen-year-old girl sitting at the dining room table out in the country after supper was over and after the table was cleared, while outside, beyond the house walls and the curtainless windows, a cold blue norther began to blow up one more high plains midwinter storm.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

the last book I ever read (Kent Haruf's Plainsong, excerpt seven)

from Plainsong by Kent Haruf:

We want you to come back, Mother.

I’m not crazy yet, she said. I don’t think I am. Do you think I’m crazy?

Monday, January 28, 2019

the last book I ever read (Kent Haruf's Plainsong, excerpt six)

from Plainsong by Kent Haruf:

They looked at each other, and it seemed obvious to Guthrie that she was thinking hard, trying to get back to how she wanted this to be. But it wasn’t going to happen. Too much had gone on.

She spoke again. I’m sorry about that for both of us, she said. I’m sorry about a lot of things. And I’ve decided I’m finally tired of being sorry.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

the last book I ever read (Kent Haruf's Plainsong, excerpt five)

from Plainsong by Kent Haruf:

Inside Shattuck’s, country music was playing from the ceiling speakers. The young red-haired mother at the other table had finished with the chili and was smoking a cigarette. She was jiggling her foot to the music, her loose shoe half off. From the speakers overhead a girl’s voice was singing, You really had me going, baby, but now I’m gone. The woman’s foot moved with the music. Then suddenly she jumped up from the table and cried, Oh, Jesus Christ. Oh, my God. What is wrong with you? She jerked the smaller of the two girls by the arm, lifting the little girl out of her chair, and stood her violently on her feet. Couldn’t you see that was going to happen? There was a pool of chocolate milk spreading across the table from an upended glass, the dark milk spilling off the edge like a little dirty waterfall. The small girl stood away from the table watching it, her face was as white as paper and she began to whimper. Don’t you dare, the woman said. Don’t you even start that. She grabbed napkins from the dispenser and swiped at the table, spreading the mess around, then she dabbed at her hands. Shit, she said. Look at this. Finally she snatched up her purse and rushed out of the room. Behind her the two little girls clattered in their hard shoes across the tiled floor, calling for her to wait.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

the last book I ever read (Kent Haruf's Plainsong, excerpt four)

from Plainsong by Kent Haruf:

Guthrie grabbed him once more but he jerked away and then the boy swung and hit Guthrie at the side of the face, and then he whirled and ran away down the hallway and on outside, headed toward the parking lot. Guthrie watched him through the hallway windows. The boy got into his car, a dark blue Ford, and drove off, screeching across the parking lot and out of sight. Guthrie stood in the hallway and made himself breathe until he was calm again. The side of his face felt numb. He supposed he would feel it more later on. He took out a handkerchief and wiped it across his mouth and felt something on his tongue and spat it into the handkerchief and looked at it. A bloody piece of a tooth. He put it in his shirt pocket and wiped his mouth again and put the handkerchief away. The he opened the door to the classroom and entered in on an immediate natural quiet. The students were all watching him.

Take out your books, he told them. Read until the bell. I don’t want to hear anything more from any one of you today. You can finish your speeches tomorrow.

Friday, January 25, 2019

the last book I ever read (Kent Haruf's Plainsong, excerpt three)

from Plainsong by Kent Haruf:

What do you know about sweaters?

I don’t know, Bobby said. I like them, I guess.

Huh, she said. You’re too young to be thinking about women in sweaters. She seemed to laugh a little. It was a strange sound, awkward and tentative, as if she didn’t know how. Then suddenly she began to cough. She knew how to do that. Her head was thrown back and her face darkened while her sunken chest shook beneath the apron and housedress. The boys watched her out of the corners of their eyes, fascinated and afraid. She wrapped her hand over her mouth and shut her eyes and coughed. Thin tears squeezed out of her eyes. But at last she stopped, and then she took her glasses off and removed a clot of Kleenex from the pocket of her apron and dabbed her eyes and blew her nose. She put her glasses on once more and looked at the two brothers sitting on the sofa watching her. Don’t you boys ever smoke, she said. Her voice was a rasping whisper now.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

the last book I ever read (Kent Haruf's Plainsong, excerpt two)

from Plainsong by Kent Haruf:

There’s not much more to tell, the girl said. After school started at the end of August we still went out a couple times more. But something happened. I don’t know what. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t give me any warning. He just stopped picking me up. One day he didn’t come for me anymore.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

the last book I ever read (Kent Haruf's Plainsong, excerpt one)

from Plainsong by Kent Haruf:

She looked all around. Houses and bare trees. She slid down onto the porch in the cold, lapsing back against the chill boards of the housefront. She seemed to fade away, to drift and wander in a kind of daze of sorrow and disbelief. She sobbed a little. She stared out at the silent trees and the dark street and the houses across the street where people were moving about reasonably in the bright rooms beyond the windows, and she looked up at the movement in the trees when the wind sighed. She sat, staring out, not moving.

Later she came out of that.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

the last book I ever read (Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola, excerpt fourteen)

from Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola:

Around two o’clock, a police picket had to get the crowd moving and supervise the parking of carriages. The palace was built, the temple raised to the extravagant follies of Fashion. It dominated the neighbourhood, covering it with its shadow. Already, the scar left on its side by the demolition of Bourras’ shack had healed so well that one could search in van for the site of this vanished wart; the four façades extended along the four streets without a gap, in magnificent isolation. On the other side, since Baudu had gone into a retirement home, the Vieil Elbeuf was shut and walled up like a tomb behind the shutters that were never raised. Little by little, the wheels of passing cabs spattered them, posters buried them and stuck them together in a rising tide of advertising, which was like the last shovel of earth on the coffin of old-fashioned trade. And, in the midst of this dead shopfront, dirtied by the splashes from the street and blotched like the rags of the Parisian mob, hung an immense yellow notice, brand new, like a flag planted over a conquered empire, announcing in letters two feet high the great sale at Au Bonheur des Dames. It was as though the colossus, after its successive expansions, seized by shame and repugnance for the dingy district in which it had its humble birth – and which it subsequently slaughtered – had just turned its back, leaving behind the mud of these narrow streets, and offering its parvenu’s face to the noisy, sunlit avenue of the New Paris. Now, as the print on the advertisements depicted it, it had grown fat like the ogre in the fairy tale whose shoulders threatened to break the clouds. First of all, in the foreground of this print, the Rue du Dix-Décembre, the Rue de la Michodière and the Rue Monsigny, full of little black figures, were unnaturally widened, as though to make room for all the customers of the world. Then there were the buildings themselves, of exaggerated size, seen from a bird’s-eye view with their roofs showing the positions of the covered galleries and their glass-roofed courtyards suggesting the halls beneath – the whole infinity of that lake of glass and zinc shining in the sun. Beyond that, Paris – but a Paris reduced, eaten up by the monster: the house near by were like mean little cottages, while beyond that they were scattered about in a vague dusting of chimney pots; the monuments seemed to melt away: on the left, two lines for Notre-Dame, on the right, a circumflex accent for the Invalides, in the background, the Pantheon, shamefaced and lost, no larger than a lentil. The horizon crumbled away, reduced to no more than an insignificant frame for the picture, as far as the heights of Châtillon and into the vast countryside with blurred distances suggesting its inferior status.

Monday, January 21, 2019

the last book I ever read (Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola, excerpt thirteen)

from Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola:

A large number of women were waiting at Saint-Roch, the small tradespeople of the neighbourhood who had been afraid they would overcrowd the bereaved house. The occasion was turning into a riot, and when after the service the procession set off once more, all the men followed again, even though it was a long walk from the Rue Saint-Honoré to the Montmartre cemetery. They had to go back up the Rue Saint-Roch and pass for a second time in front of Au Bonheur des Dames. It was like an obsession, the meager body of this young woman being carried around the store, like the first victim to fall in a time of revolution. At the door, red flannel cloths were flapping in the wind like flags and a display of carpets burst out in a blood-red flowering of huge roses and blossoming peonies.

Meanwhile, Denise had got into one of the carriages, racked by such burning doubts and with such sadness oppressing her that she no longer had the strength to walk. As it happened, they paused in the Rue du Dix-Décembre, by the scaffolding of the new façade which was still obstructing the traffic. She noticed old Bourras lagging behind, dragging his leg, right under the wheels of the carriage of which she was the only occupant. He would never get to the cemetery. He looked up and saw her, then got in.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

the last book I ever read (Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola, excerpt twelve)

from Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola:

When Mouret got back to his office, he was choking with repressed sobs. What did she want, then? He no longer dared to offer her money, but the vague idea of marriage appeared, despite his reluctance as a young widower. So in the irritation of his powerlessness, the tears ran. He was unhappy.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

the last book I ever read (Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola, excerpt eleven)

from Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola:

He dashed in front of the door.

‘At least, defend yourself! Say something!’

She stood there, bolt upright, in icy silence. For a long time he plied her with questions, growing increasingly anxious; and once again the silent dignity of this virgin was like the cunning ruse of a woman who knew just how to manipulate a man’s passion. She could not have played a part that would throw him at her feet, more than ever torn by doubt, more than ever anxious to be convinced.

‘Come, now, you say he is from your part of the world. Perhaps that is where you met. Swear to me that nothing has passed beween you.’

Friday, January 18, 2019

the last book I ever read (Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola, excerpt ten)

from Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola:

Mouret, meanwhile, was in anguish. Was it possible for this child to torment him so? He could still see her first arriving at Au Bonheur des Dames with her heavy shoes, her think black dress and her unkempt look. She stammered, everyone used to make fun of her and even he had found her ugly to begin with. Ugly! Now she could overcome him with a look, she was bathed in radiance whenever he looked at her! Then there had been the time when she was at the bottom of the pile, rejected, teased and treated by him like some curious animal. For months he had tried to see how such a young woman would develop and had been amused by the experiment, not realizing that his heart was at stake. Bit by bit, she had grown in stature and become a force to reckon with. Perhaps he had loved her from the first minute, even at the time when he thought he felt only pity. Yet he had not been captivated by her until their walk under the chestnuts in the Tuileries Gardens. His life had begun then, hearing the laughter of a group of little girls and the distant tinkling of a fountain, while she was walking beside him in the warm dusk, saying nothing. Since then, he knew nothing, his fever had risen constantly and all his flesh and his being had been hers. Was it possible, a girl like that? Now when she appeared, the rustling of her dress seemed so powerful that he reeled from it.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

the last book I ever read (Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola, excerpt nine)

from Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola:

Just then, the other ladies were arriving. Mouret had been accompanying them and kept them a minute longer to show them Inspector Jouve, who was still pursuing the pregnant woman and her friend. It was very odd, you couldn’t imagine how many shoplifters were arrested in the lace department. Madame de Boves, as she listened to him, saw herself between two gendarmes, forty-five years old, well-dressed, with a prominent husband; but she felt no pang of conscience, merely thinking that she should have slipped the lace into her sleeve. Jouve, meanwhile, had just decided to arrest the pregnant woman, deciding that he would never catch her in the act and, in any case, suspecting her of filling her pockets with such sleight of the hand that he was deceived by it. But when he took her to one side and searched her, he was embarrassed to find nothing on her, not a kerchief, not a button. The friend had vanished. Suddenly, he understood: the pregnant woman was only there to distract him, it was the friend who was shoplifting.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

the last book I ever read (Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola, excerpt eight)

from Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola:

Mouret’s sole passion was the conquest of woman. He wanted to make her queen in his house and he had built this temple so that he could have her at his mercy. His whole tactic was to intoxicate her with attentive gallantry, to trade on her needs and to exploit her feverish desires. So, day and night, he racked his brain, searching for new ideas. He had already had two lifts put in, padded with velvet, to spare delicate ladies the effort of climbing the stairs. In addition to that, he had just opened a buffet, where biscuits and syrups were served free, and a reading room, a monumental gallery, over-extravagantly decorated, in which he was even venturing to hold exhibitions of painting. But his most subtle idea, directed at women without any idle vanity, was to reach the mother through the child. He used every strength and exploited every feeling, setting up departments for little boys and girls, and stopping the mothers as they walked by, to offer their babies pictures and balloons. These free balloons were a stroke of genius, red balloons, handed out to ever female customer, made of fine rubber and bearing the name of the shop in large letters. Floating through the air, held on the end of a string, they carried a living advertisement along the streets!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

the last book I ever read (Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola, excerpt seven)

from Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola:

July was very hot. Denise really felt it in her narrow room, under the slate roof. So when she left the shop, she would fetch Pépé from Bourras and, instead of going upstairs straightaway, would take the air a little in the Tuileries Gardens, until they shut the gates. One evening, as she was walking towards the chestnut trees, she stopped dead in her tracks: she thought she recognized Hutin a few steps ahead, walking directly towards her. Then her heart started to beat violently. It was Mouret, who had taken dinner on the Left Bank and was hurriedly walking to Madame Desforges’. The young woman made a brusque movement to get out of his way and he looked up at her. Night was falling, yet he recognized her.

‘It’s you, Mademoiselle.’

Monday, January 14, 2019

the last book I ever read (Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola, excerpt six)

from Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola:

When the dead season of summer arrived, a wave of panic swept through Au Bonheur des Dames. It was the fear of dismissals, of the mass sackings that the management used to clear out the store when it was empty of customers in the hot days of July and August.

Every morning, when Mouret was doing his rounds with Bourdoncle, he would take the heads of department aside – the same whom he had been urging the previous winter to take on more staff than they needed, for fear that otherwise sales might suffer, at the risk of having to thin them out later on. Now it was a matter of reducing costs, putting a good one-third of the assistants on the street, the weaker being devoured by the stronger.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

the last book I ever read (Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola, excerpt five)

from Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola:

‘Now then, young ladies, no unpleasant remarks, behave yourselves!’ said Madame Aurélie, with a solemn air, amid this outburst of anger that had swept through her little tribe. ‘Show us the sort of people you are!’

She preferred not to get involved. As she remarked one day in answer to a question from Mouret, the young ladies were each as bad as the other. But suddenly she flared up when she learned from Bourdoncle that he had just come across her son at the back of the basement kissing a girl from lingerie, the same assistant to whom the young man had been passing letters. It was atrocious and she accused lingerie straight out of having laid a trap for Albert; yes, it was a conspiracy against her: they were trying to dishonor her by destroying an inexperienced boy, once they discovered that her department was immune to attack. She only made such a fuss about it in order to confuse the issue, because she had no illusions about her son, knowing that no stupidity was beyond him. For a short while, the affair risked taking on serious proportions, because Mignot from the glove department was involved. He was Albert’s friend and would favour the mistresses that Albert sent him, hatless girls who rummaged around for hours in the boxes; and, on top of all that, there was some story which no one ever got to the bottom of, about the lingerie assistant being given some Swedish gloves. In the end, the scandal was hushed up out of consideration for the chief buyer in ladies’ wear, whom even Mouret treated with respect. All that happened was that a week later Bourdoncle found some excuse to sack the assistant who was guilty of having let herself be kissed. They might turn a blind eye to the dreadful goings-on outside, but the gentlemen would not put up with the slightest indecency in the store.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

the last book I ever read (Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola, excerpt four)

from Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola:

That night, Denise slept badly. Since her arrival at Au Bonheur des Dames, money had been a terrible worry. She was still a probationer with no fixed salary; and as the young ladies in the department prevented her from selling, she only just managed to pay Pépé’s board and lodging, thanks to the negligible customers which they passed over to her. For her, it was dire penury, penury in a silk dress. Often she had to stay awake all night, maintaining her tiny wardrobe, mending her linen and darning her nightdresses like lace. In addition, she had patched her shoes as skillfully as a cobbler could have done. She risked doing her washing in her wash-basin. But her old woollen dress bothered her most of all; it was the only one she had and she was forced to put it on each evening when she took off her silk uniform, so it was getting dreadfully worn. A stain made her frantic and the slightest tear was a catastrophe. She had nothing of her own, not a penny, nothing with which to buy the little things that a woman needs; she had to wait a fortnight to buy more needles and thread. And then there were disasters, when Jean with his love affairs suddenly descended on her and caused havoc in her budget. Remove a one-franc piece and there was a gaping hole in it; but as for finding ten francs from one day to the next, it was quite out of the question. She had nightmares until daybreak, seeing Pépé thrown out into the street, while she was turning over the paving-stones with her torn fingers to see if there was any money underneath.

Friday, January 11, 2019

the last book I ever read (Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola, excerpt three)

from Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola:

‘That’s why I’m quite sure that her people will take our Paris-Bonheur. Why should she go to the manufacturer and buy it for more than she would have to pay us? On my honour, we’re selling at a loss.’

For the ladies, this was the coup de grâce. The idea of having the merchandise at a loss stirred the callous side of their feminine nature, which means that a woman’s pleasure in buying something is doubled when she thinks she is robbing the person who sells it to her. He knew that they were unable to resist a bargain.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

the last book I ever read (Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola, excerpt two)

from Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola:

‘Come in, Monsieur Mouret, come through the little drawing room. That will be less formal.’

Mouret greeted the ladies, whom he knew. The room with its Louis XIV furniture and brocade embroidered with flowers, its gilded bronzes and its great green plants, had a soft, feminine intimacy despite the high ceilings; and through the two windows, you could see the chestnuts in the Tuileries, their leaves blown about by the October winds.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

the last book I ever read (Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola, excerpt one)

from Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola:

He was waxing eloquent.

‘You understand: in a week’s time, I want Paris-Bonheur to revolutionize the market. It is our stroke of luck, the one that will save us and launch us. That’s all anyone will be talking about and the blue and silver selvage will be known from one end of the country to the other. And you just listen to the savage way our competitors will moan. The small businesses will be further crippled by it. They’ll be sunk, all those rag-and-bone men dying of rheumatism in their cellars.’

Sunday, January 6, 2019

the last book I ever read (Early Work: A Novel by Andrew Martin, excerpt eleven)

from Early Work: A Novel by Andrew Martin:

“That’s not what that is,” Leslie said. “I’m just selfish.”

The right way to play this felt out of reach. I didn’t think that she was any more selfish than most of the people I knew. But she was somewhat more successful at achieving results. I stole a glance over at her. She was sitting up very straight, with her hands folded in her lap, staring intently out the windshield. The epitome of formal grace, which was not called for in this situation.

“Come on,” I said. “Impulsive cross-country killing spree with me? Badlands-style? With slightly less murder? Kenny won’t let us stay much longer unless we start cutting the grass and shit. He told me I wasn’t appreciating his environment.”

She turned to me, and I could feel her eyes against my skull.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

the last book I ever read (Early Work: A Novel by Andrew Martin, excerpt ten)

from Early Work: A Novel by Andrew Martin:

“Okay, this is actually the worst,” Julia said, though she was smiling. She looked beautiful. Thanks to endorphins, I guess, and maybe Colin, she was happy. She started swimming toward the island, kicking hard and powering onward with sharp, chopping arms. Colin glided after her, and I followed, splashing for a while in incompetent imitation of them before resorting to my usual dog padde. Kiki’s howls grew more plangent the farther we swam, and I swam on my back for a bit, watching Kiki race from one end of the dock to the other. The sound disturbed me, made my heart hurt again. I worried that she was going to fall in the water and drown trying to get back onto the dock, or trying to swim after us, and who could live with that on their conscience forever? The more I listened to her cries, the more I wanted to go back and placate her. Let Julia entertain whatever crypto-romantic fantasy she was conjuring about life on an eight-hundred-square-foot island with Colin. It would be something out of a contemporary magic realist story: A man sits with his dog and watches as his partner and his best friend take up a new life together on a desolate island a few hundred yards from shore. Years pass, and the narrator watches them build a house, catch fish, raise their children, all on this tiny uninhabited island, while he and the dog waste away in longing, back on the mainland. It had that perfect combination of not making any sense and being full to the brim with banal sentiment. I tried to ignore Kiki and kept swimming for the island. Dogs probably had something in their brains that kept them from killing themselves in most instances.

Friday, January 4, 2019

the last book I ever read (Early Work: A Novel by Andrew Martin, excerpt nine)

from Early Work: A Novel by Andrew Martin:

The place was busy for a Wednesday afternoon. She ordered a large coffee and a cookie shaped like the state of Montana. She managed to snag a table right as an insane local artist was leaving it. Next to her, a child—maybe three years old?—with a gloriously untamed mop of dark hair bashed an action figure against the corner of an unvarnished wood table while his minders sat across from one another staring into their laptops.

She recognized the toy—it was a replica of a professional wrestler circa 1992. The Ultimate Warrior. Her older brother, Steve, had owned that one and dozens more, spending his mid-single digits smashing them into each other in the course of hermetic, byzantine narratives. She’d joined in occasionally—as older brothers went, he’d been on the sensitive side—but it was clear that it required great effort on his part to make the sharing of his private world comprehensible and fun. More frequently, they played with their gender-mandated human simulacra across the room from each other, she freely mixing Barbies and life-size baby dolls and miniature horses in swirling psychodramas with no clear narrative thrust. Whereas Steven’s wrestlers seemed to follow a more or less filmic pattern of violent antagonism followed by grudging acceptance of one another to defeat some larger evil (often represented by faceless vehicles that dwarfed them in size, hence the teamwork), her women, babies, and animals simply bickered continually, never achieving resolution. The sources of their complaints were mostly lost to her now—surely a bricolage of overheard and misunderstood adult phrases coupled with vague rehashing of concerns gleaned from television—but she remembered her engrossment in them, the dreamy endlessness of the afternoons spent deep in her own mind.

The child perched his Ultimate Warrior on the rim of his father’s giant coffee mug, then plunged him in, sending coffee spilling down the sides of it and onto the table.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

the last book I ever read (Early Work: A Novel by Andrew Martin, excerpt eight)

from Early Work: A Novel by Andrew Martin:

He looked at Leslie like a child up past his bedtime, as I’d hoped he would. I actually did want to watch the game, but I also wanted to delay, and possibly prevent, him from having a good night with Leslie. I was willing to put myself in the way of his company in order to take her out of it. Sacrifice: it’s what Americans think love is.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

the last book I ever read (Early Work: A Novel by Andrew Martin, excerpt seven)

from Early Work: A Novel by Andrew Martin:

Every time Leslie talked about Brian, I felt depression gnaw into me. In the days between Kenny’s return and Brian’s arrival, I spent a lot of time listening to the Sonic Youth albums from their scary period—Sister, EVOL—songs about killing and being very nervous. They sounded like traveling on an interstate bus at night. Julia was used to me falling into periods of shallow darkness. She made sure I wasn’t contemplating self-harm and let me be.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

the last book I ever read (Early Work: A Novel by Andrew Martin, excerpt six)

from Early Work: A Novel by Andrew Martin:

“I like it,” Leslie said. She was trying to lean into it, into the weed, into possible attraction. “You look a heartbeat away from the presidency.”

“Is that a Sarah Palin joke? If so, great job.”

“I was thinking of Dick Cheney. As I often am.”

Katie looked into Leslie’s eyes queryingly, like she was trying to determine whether or not John Malkovich was in there.