It was one of the dullest speeches

It was one of the dullest speeches I ever heard. The Agee woman told us for three quarters of an hour how she came to write her beastly book, when a simple apology was all that was required.

P.G. Wodehouse, The Girl in Blue

I no have education

I no have education. I have inspiration. If I was educated, I would be a damn fool.

Bob Marley

A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head

A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. The green earflaps, full of large ears and uncut hair and the fine bristles that grew in the ears themselves, stuck out on either side like turn signals indicating two directions at once. Full, pursed lips protruded beneath the bushy black moustache and, at their corners, sank into little folds filled with disapproval and potato chip crumbs. In the shadow under the green visor of the cap Ignatius J. Reilly’s supercilious blue and yellow eyes looked down upon the other people waiting under the clock at the D.H. Holmes department store, studying the crowd of people for signs of bad taste in dress. Several of the outfits, Ignatius noticed, were new enough and expensive enough to be properly considered offenes against taste and decency. Possession of anything new or expensive only reflected a person’s lack of theology and geometry; it could even cast doubts upon one’s soul.

First paragraph of A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains.

In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels. Troops went by the house and down the road and the dust they raised powdered the leaves of the trees. The trunks of the trees too were dusty and the leaves fell early that year and we saw the troops marching along the road and the dust rising and leaves, stirred by the breeze, falling and the soldiers marching and afterward the road bare and white except for the leaves.

First paragraph of A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway

I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up

I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up. I had just gotten over a serious illness that I won’t bother to talk about, except that it had something to do with the miserably weary split-up and my feeling that everything was dead. With the coming of Dean Moriarty began the part of my life you could call my life on the road. Before that I’d often dreamed of going West to see the country, always vaguely planning and never taking off. Dean is the perfect guy for the road because he actually was born on the road, when his parents were passing through Salt Lake City in 1926, in a jalopy, on their way to Los Angeles. First reports of him came to me through Chad King, who’d shown me a few letters from him written in a New Mexico reform school. I was tremendously interested in the letters because they so naively and sweetly asked Chad to teach him all about Nietzsche and all the wonderful intellectual things that Chad knew. At one point Carlo and I talked about the letters and wondered if we would ever meet the strange Dean Moriarty. This is all far back, when Dean was not the way he is today, when he was a young jailkid shrouded in mystery. Then news came that Dean was out of reform school and was coming to New York for the first time; also there was talk that he had just married a girl called Marylou.

First paragraph of On The Road by Jack Kerouac

Dark spruce forest frowned on either side of the frozen waterway

Dark spruce forest frowned on either side of the frozen waterway. The trees had been stripped by a recent wind of their white covering of frost, and they seemed to lean toward each other, black and ominous, in the fading light. A vast silence reigned over the land. The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness. There was a hint in it of laughter, but of a laughter more terrible than any sadness — a laughter that was mirthless as the smile of the Sphinx, a laughter cold as the frost and partaking of the grimness of infallibility. It was the masterful and incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life and the effort of life. It was the Wild, the savage, frozen-hearted Northland Wild.

First paragraph of White Fang by Jack London

I am a sick man. … I am a spiteful man

I am a sick man. … I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased. However, I know nothing at all about my disease, and do not know for certain what ails me. I don’t consult a doctor for it, and never have, though I have a respect for medicine and doctors. Besides, I am extremely superstitious, sufficiently so to respect medicine, anyway (I am well-educated enough not to be superstitious, but I am superstitious). No, I refuse to consult a doctor from spite. That you probably will not understand. Well, I understand it, though. Of course, I can’t explain who it is precisely that I am mortifying in this case by my spite: I am perfectly well aware that I cannot “pay out” the doctors by not consulting them; I know better than anyone that by all this I am only injuring myself and no one else. But still, if I don’t consult a doctor it is from spite. My liver is bad, well then let it hurt even worse!

First paragraph of Notes From Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky

I am an invisible man

I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids—and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination—indeed, everything and anything except me.

First paragraph of The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Life is one big road with lots of signs

Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!

Bob Marley

Just remember that the things you put into your head are there forever

“Just remember that the things you put into your head are there forever,” he said. “You might want to think about that.”
“You forget some things, don’t you?”
“Yes. You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget.”

Cormac McCarthy, The Road

I must not fear

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Frank Herbert, Dune

Atticus said to Jem one day

Atticus said to Jem one day, “I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it.

“Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

And when the war’s over

And when the war’s over, someday, some year, the books can be written again, the people will be called in, one by one, to recite what they know and we’ll set it up in type until another Dark Age, when we might have to do the whole damn thing over again. But that’s the wonderful thing about man; he never gets so discouraged or disgusted that he gives up doing it all over again, because he knows very well it is important and worth doing.

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

The conventional army

The conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerrilla wins if he does not lose.

Henry Kissinger

Facebook Sonnet

Facebook is not just injurious to health,
It’s now a full-on humanitarian crisis.
If you think it’s just a harmless bad habit,
You’re fanning the flames of social necrosis.
Social media ought to make people social,
Not make pavlov’s dogs out of humanity.
Yet all that facebook actually does today,
Is drive society towards clinical insanity.
Social media is not necessarily bad,
So long as it doesn’t feed on our stability.
Yet facebook has devised the perfect algorithm,
To learn, pump and monetize human instability.
Facebook is the definition of what AI must be not.
Algorithm without humanity is mental holocaust.

Abhijit Naskar

We look on past ages

We look on past ages with condescension, as a mere preparation for us….but what if we are a mere after-glow of them?

J.G. Farrell

Every record has been destroyed or falsified

Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped.

George Orwell, 1984

One enters a room

One enters a room and history follows; one enters a room and history precedes. History is already seated in the chair in the empty room when one arrives.

Dionne Brand

There are two ways to be fooled

There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.

Soren Kierkegaard

The sun still beats down warmly over the Sienese countryside

The sun still beats down warmly over the Sienese countryside in September, and the stubble left by harvest covers the fields with a sort of animal fur. It is one of the most beautiful countrysides in the world: God has drawn the curve of its hills with an exquisite freedom, and has given it a rich and varied vegetation among which the cypresses stand out like lords. Man has worked this earth to advantage and has spread his dwellings over it; but from the most princely villa to the humbles cottage they all have a similar grace and harmony with their ochre walls and curved tiles. The road is never monotonous; it winds and rises, only to descend into another valley between terraced fields and age-old olive groves. Both God and man have shown their genius at Siena.

Maurice Druon

He’s already tan

He’s already tan, and leaning on the rail in his yellow linen shirt, with the pure glory of Venice racing behind him, I think he looks like someone I’d like to run off with, if I already hadn’t.

Frances Mayes


Rome was a poem pressed into service as a city.

Anatole Broyard


Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.

Oprah Winfrey

Exercise gives you endorphins

Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.

Reese Witherspoon, Legally Blonde


Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation.

Lois Wyse

The reason

The reason grandparents and grandchildren get along so well is that they have a common enemy.

Sam Levenson

I do love America

I do love America. And Los Angeles is a very short commute to America. It’s like half an hour on the plane.

Craig Ferguson

Los Angeles

Los Angeles is like a beauty parlor at the end of the universe.

Emily Mortimer

With the old economics destroyed

With the old economics destroyed, organizational forms perfected for industrial production have to be replaced with structures optimized for digital data. It makes increasingly less sense even to talk about a publishing industry, because the core problem publishing solves — the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public — has stopped being a problem.

Clay Shirky

There are books

There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.

Charles Dickens in Oliver Twist

History is dramatic license

History is dramatic license, covertly-financed with a sprinkling of gold dust from the newly-enthroned.

Stewart Stafford

Sophie Kruger

Sophie Kruger had worked in a house herself, up in Middle Swan. But now she pretended she was quality. There were none so self-righteous as those who rewrote their past.

Sandra Dallas

Maybe I am wrong

Maybe I am wrong, but I tend to the think of the back of book blurb as an advertisement. The only one we will get free forever!

Dan LaBash

The distinction between

The distinction between the past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.

Albert Einstein.

Some folks look at me

Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called walking.

George W. Bush

Writing is manual labor

Writing is manual labor of the mind – like laying pipe.

John Gregory Dunne

PG has laid pipe and has done a lot of writing. The two work experiences are vastly different. For one thing, there is nothing metaphorical about laying pipe.

I have rewritten

I have rewritten — often several times — every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.

Vladimir Nabokov

During the Cold War

During the Cold War, we lived in coded times when it wasn’t easy and there were shades of grey and ambiguity.

John le Carre’