Book of the Day Archive
January 22, 2020
Today is Tet, the first day of the lunar calendar. Every Tet we eat sugary lotus seeds and glutinous rice cakes. We wear all new clothes, even underneath.
January 17, 2020
It’s bizarre to be so nervous about seeing the person who knows me best, but the past year hasn’t been so kind to Lionel and me. I’m standing outside LAX on a sun-soaked afternoon in early June when my brother’s navy-blue sedan screeches to a halt a few feet away. Part of me doesn’t mind that he’s thirty minutes late, because I needed time to get used to the idea of being back home. But now he’s here and my heart is thumping like it’s going to jump out of my mouth and there’s nowhere to go.
January 16, 2020
I come from a family with a lot of dead people. Great-uncle Edisto keeled over with a stroke on a Saturday morning after breakfast last march. Six months later, Great-great-aunt Florentine died–just like that–in the vegetable garden. And, of course, there are all the dead people who rest temporarily downstairs, until they go off to the Snapfinger Cemetery.
January 15, 2020
Time is many things, her father told her. Time is a circle, and time is a great turning gear that cannot be stopped, and time is a river that carries away what you love.
January 10, 2020
When we lived in Cuba, I was smart. but when we got to Queens, in New York City, in the United States of America, I became dumb, just because I couldn’t speak English. So I got put in the dumb class in fifth grade at P.S. 117. It’s the class for the bobos, the kids who failed at math and reading. Also in it are the kids the teachers call “delinquents.”
January 9, 2020
This is the room of the wolfmother wallpaper. The toadstool motel you once thought a mere folk tale, a corny, obsolete, rural invention. This is the room where your wisest ancestor was born, be you Christian, Arab or Jew. The linoleum underfoot is sacred linoleum. Please remove your shoes.
January 8, 2020
Check this out. This dude named Andrew Dahl holds the world record for blowing up the most balloons…with his nose. Yeah. That’s true. Not sure how he found out that was some kinda special talent, and I can’t even imagine how much snot be in those balloons, but hey, it’s a thing and Andrew’s the best at it.
January 3, 2020
I was born with water on the brain. Okay, so that’s not exactly true. I was actually born with too much cerebral spinal fluid inside my skull. but cerebral spinal fluid is just the doctors’ fancy way of saying brain grease.
January 2, 2020
Her name is Melanie. It means, “the black girl,” from an ancient Greek word, but her skin is actually very fair so she thinks maybe it’s not such a good name for her. She likes the name Pandora a whole lot, but you don’t get to choose. Miss Justineau assigns names from a big list; new children get the top name on the boys’ list or the top name on the girls’ list, and that, Miss Justineau says, is that.
January 1, 2020
The first time I went to a snake-handling service, nobody even took a snake out. This was in Scottsboro, Alabama, in March of 1992, at The Church of Jesus with Signs Following. I’d come to the church at the invitation of one of the members I’d met while covering the trial of their preacher, Rev. Glenn Summerford, who had been convicted and sentenced to ninety-nine years in prison for attempting to murder his wife with rattlesnakes.
December 27, 2019
Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond.
December 26, 2019
Anna Velasquez hurried out of the barrios of Lima and onto the plaza. She carried a quiet baby, wrapped closely so that no one could see him–but no one was looking.
December 25, 2019
Every Who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot.
December 20, 2019
You better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy.
December 19, 2019
I myself had two separate encounters with witches before I was eight years old. From the first I escaped unharmed, but on the second occasion I was not so lucky.
December 18, 2019
When you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him. –Ashante proverb
December 13, 2019
Son, Last Sunday the host of a popular news show asked me what it meant to lose my body.
December 12, 2019
Sadako was born to be a runner. Her mother always said that Sadako had learned to run before she could walk. One morning in August 1954 Sadako ran outside into the street as soon as she was dressed. The morning sun of Japan touched brown highlights in her dark hair. There was not a speck of cloud in the blue sky. It was a good sign.
December 11, 2019
I’d never seen a mock man until the Professor showed me one. I’d heard them, of course–many evenings the chimpanzees would scream within the dark trees surrounding my village, their cries too strange for a person and too intimate for an animal. I still hear those shrieks, these years later.
December 6, 2019
From the crumpled bed the wife said, “I think today’s the day. Look how low I’ve gone.” “Today? That would be like you, perverse and inconvenient,” said her husband, teasing her, standing at the doorway and looking outward, over the lake, the fields, the forested slopes beyond. He could just make out the chimneys of Rush Margins, breakfast fires smoking. “The worst possible moment for my ministry. Naturally.”
December 5, 2019
Annabelle Agnelli is trying to hold it together in the parking lot of Dick’s Drive-In. After what just happened, she’s stunned. Frozen. And then–imagine it–Annabelle’s wrecked self suddenly takes off like a lightning bolt.
December 4, 2019
I, Frankie Landau-Banks, hereby confess that I was the sole mastermind behind the mal-doings of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. I take full responsibility for the disruptions caused by the Order–including the Library Lady, the Doggies in the Window, the Night of a Thousand Dogs, the Canned Beet Rebellion, and the abduction of the Guppy.
November 29, 2019
Krazi Hari was the only person I didn’t mind calling me Meejit, because he was crazy. As me and Slo-George walked along the East Wall that surrounded the Kibera slum, I looked across the three-hundred-yard mound of garbage and there, as ever, was Krazi Hari, black as char, tall as heaven, hair wild as a riot.
November 28, 2019
I used to have a cat, an old fighting tom, who would jump through the open window by my bed in the middle of the night and land on my chest. I’d half awaken. He’d stick his skull under my nose and purr, stinking of urine and blood.
November 27, 2019
Mike Mulligan had a steam shovel, a beautiful red steam shovel. Her name was Mary Anne. Mike Mulligan was very proud of Mary Anne.
November 22, 2019
You’ll probably think I’m making a lot of this up just to make me sound better than I really am or smarter or even luckier but I’m not. Besides, a lot of the things that’ve happened to me in my life so far which I’ll get to pretty soon’ll make me sound evil or just plain dumb or the tragic victim of circumstances.
November 21, 2019
Suppose that you and I were sitting in a quiet room overlooking a garden, chatting and sipping at our cups of green tea while we talked about something that had happened a long while ago, and I said to you, “That afternoon when I met so-and-so…was the very best afternoon of my life, and also the very worst afternoon.”
November 20, 2019
It was not that Omri didn’t appreciate Patrick’s birthday present to him. Far from it. He was really very grateful–sort of. It was, without a doubt, very kind of Patrick to give Omri anything at all, let alone a secondhand plastic Indian that he himself had finished with.
November 15, 2019
I am sure you know how important it can be to get a good phone signal. We were speeding through the hot African desert in a scratched and muddy Land Cruiser that had been much whiter a week earlier.
November 14, 2019
“These are so good. Disculpe. senora…. Can I ask you a question? I love the story these tell. But why only black and white?”