There was first the ferry boat moving softly out from the Jersey shore at dawn—the moment crystallized into my first symbol of New York. Five years later when I was fifteen, I went into the city from school to see Ina Claire in The Quaker Girl and Gertrude Bryan in Little Boy Blue. Confused by my hopeless and melancholy love for them both, I was unable to choose between them—so they blurred into one lovely entity, the girl. She was my second symbol of New York. The ferry boat stood for triumph, the girl for romance. In time I was to achieve some of both, but there was a third symbol that I have lost somewhere, and lost forever.
— from “My Lost City” featured in Lapham’s Quarterly Fall 2010 Issue: The City
"The emptiness of Haber’s being, the effective nightmare, radiating outward from the dreaming brain, had undone connections. The continuity that had always held between the worlds or timelines of Orr’s dreaming had now been broken. Chaos had entered in. He had few and incoherent memories of this existence he was now in; almost all he knew came from the other memories, the other dreamtimes."
“The earlier era of paranoia in this country was based largely on violent events arid on the suspicions that spread concerning the true nature of the particular event, from Dallas to Memphis to Vietnam… . People believed, sometimes justifiably, that they were being lied to by the government or elements within the government. Today, it seems, the virus is self-generated. Distrust and disbelief are centered in a deep need to raise individual discontent to an art form, often with no basis in fact. In many cases, people choose to believe a clear falsehood, about President Obama, for instance, or September 11, or immigrants, or Muslims. These are often symbolic beliefs, usable kinds of fiction, a means of protest rising from political, economic, religious, or racial complaints, or just a lousy life in a dying suburb.”—
Don DeLillo, from his interview with the PEN American Center
Congratulations to Don DeLillo, recipient of the Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction from PEN American Center
“Here’s a stray question (or a metaphysical leap): Will language have the same depth and richness in electronic form that it can reach on the printed page? Does the beauty and variability of our language depend to an important degree on the medium that carries the words? Does poetry need paper?”
Background information on some books that most people have read.
Charlie Scribner III has written about the search for the perfect title to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel. Maxwell Perkins went rounds with Fitzgerald and Scribner writes:
Fitzgerald was never satisfied with the title The Great Gatsby. Yet when the first copy of the book arrived he wrote to Perkins that he “thought the new jacket was great.” No doubt this concise compliment conveyed not only his approval of all its elements—illustration, flap copy, typography, and back ad— but also something of an inside joke. To the author, it was “new” in so far as it incorporated for the first time an actual title, from which Fitzgerald quoted the adjective, perhaps with pointed irony, since he had earlier denigrated to Perkins its titular connection with Jay Gatsby: “The Great Gatsby is weak because there’s no emphasis even ironically on his greatness or lack of it. However, let it pass.”
Several years ago, I was put in the window of a Midwestern bookstore next to a large sign announcing, “Robert Reich is here to sign his latest book.” Some passers-by glanced curiously into the window; a few stopped to gawk. I lamely smiled and waved. The ordeal lasted only a half-hour, but the…
Oooh. Have we got some stories for you. You know it’s bad when the homeless realize your book reading is the perfect spot for a nap.
"They’re four years old, and their parents are getting them Stuart Little. I see children pick up picture books, and then the parents say, ‘You can do better than this, you can do more than this.’ It’s a terrible pressure parents are feeling—that somehow, I shouldn’t let my child have this picture book because she won’t get into Harvard." — bookseller at Politics & Prose, Washington DC