Book of the Day Archive
March 27, 2020
I had a transcendental moment on the plane, eating my Haagen-Daz ice cream and listening to Camille Saint-Saens’ Danse macabre. Oh, by the way, I’m on the plane right now. It’s really hard to tell what time of day it is, and I can’t sleep.
March 26, 2020
I like to think I know what death is. I like to think that it’s something I could look at straight.
March 25, 2020
When I left my office that beautiful spring day, I had no idea what was in store for me. To begin with, everything was too perfect for anything unusual to happen.
March 20, 2020
The North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance agent promised to fly from Mercy to the other side of Lake Superior at three o’clock. Two days before the event was to take place he tacked a note on the door of his little yellow house: At 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday the 18th of February, 1931, I will take off from Mercy and fly away on my own wings. Please forgive me. I loved you all.
March 19, 2020
It is starting like this. I am feeling itch like insect is crawling on my skin, and then my head is just starting to tingle right between my eye, and then I am wanting to sneeze because my nose is itching, and then air is just blowing into my ear and I am hearing so many thing: the clicking of insect, the sound of truck grumbling like one kind of animal, and the the sound of somebody shouting, TAKE YOUR POSITION RIGHT NOW! QUICK! QUICK! MOVE WITH SPEED! MOVE FAST OH! in voice that is just touching my body like knife.
March 18, 2020
When my mother was pregnant with me, she told me later, a party of hooded Ku Klux Klan riders galloped up to our home in Omaha, Nebraska, one night.
March 13, 2020
All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true.
March 12, 2020
I read somewhere that human beings are genetically predisposed to record history. We believe it will prevent us from doing stupid things in the future. But even though we dutifully archived elaborate records of everything we’ve ever done, we also managed to keep on doing dumber and dumber shit.
March 11, 2020
The fate of Dmitri Shostakovich was bound up with the fate of Leningrad from the time he was a child. In 1906, when he was born, the city was called St. Petersburg. It was known as, “the Venice of the North,” for the canals and rivers that ran beside its grand avenues and beneath its many bridges.
March 6, 2020
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 towards 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 grimess 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.
March 5, 2020
I opened my eyes. My legs were bound and my head ached. There was one dark moment of disorientation before the bad-dream fog abruptly lifted and I woke up all the way and rolled to smack the shrilling alarm. I was exactly where I was supposed to be: in my tiny room, lumpy pillow over my head and thick maroon comforter wrapped around my legs. I disentangled myself and kicked the comforter away. The muffled tinkling as it slithered off the foot of the bed reminded me that Kevin and I had stored the empty beer cans there. Well, that explained the headache.
March 4, 2020
Freak. FREEEEEEK. I’ll never forget the first time I heard the word, that day at the blackboard. It was five years ago, when I was eight. (For those who are mathematically challenged, like me, that means I’m thirteen now.) So there I was, dressed in my shepherd-girl costume for the Christmas play after school, struggling to complete the math problem on the board while my fellow third-graders watched.
February 28, 2020
I am a coward. I wanted to be heroic and I pretended I was. I have always been good at pretending.
February 27, 2020
Some people call me a child-witch, but I’m just a girl who likes to watch the hands of the women as they gather wild herbs and flowers to heal the sick. I am learning the names of the cures and how much to use, and which part of the plant, petal or stem, root, leaf, pollen, nectar.
February 26, 2020
My legal name is Alexander Perchov. But all of my many friends dub me Alex, because that is a more flaccid-to-utter version of my legal name. Mother dubs me Alexi-stop-spleening-me!, because I am always spleening her. If you want to know why I am always spleening her, it is because I am always elsewhere with friends, and disseminating so much currency, and performing so many things that can spleen a mother.
February 21, 2020
It was seven o’clock of a very warm evening in the Seeonee hills when Father Wolf woke up from his day’s rest, scratched himself, yawned, and spread out his paws one after the other to get rid of the sleepy feeling in their tips. Mother Wolf lay with her big gray nose dropped across her four tumbling, squealing cubs, and the moon shone into the mouth of the cave where they all lived.
February 20, 2020
Guilt is a hunter. My conscience mocked me, picking fights like a petulant child.
February 19, 2020
Swish! Swish! It was spring, and Brother Wind was back. He come high steppin’ through Ridgetop, dressed in his finest and trailing that long, silvery wind cape behind him. Swoosh! Swoosh! Swoosh!
February 14, 2020
“Little Man, would you come on? You keep it up and you’re gonna make us late.” My youngest brother paid no attention to me. Grasping more firmly his newspaper-wrapped notebook and his tin-can lunch of cornbread and oil sausages, he continued to concentrate on the dusty road.
February 13, 2020
The first thing I learned about Travis Becker was that he parked his motorcycle on the front lawn. You could see the tracks of it all the way up that rolling hill, cutting deeply into the beautiful, golf course-like grass. That should have told me all I needed to know, right there.
February 12, 2020
I have been afraid of putting air in a tire ever since I saw a tractor tire blow up and throw Newt Hardbine’s father over the top of the Standard Oil sign. I’m not lying. He got stuck up there.
February 7, 2020
We were on our way to Dad’s house and Mom was driving with both hands clamped tightly around the wheel as if she had me by the neck. I had been snapping my seat belt on and off and driving her nuts by asking a hundred what ifs about Dad. She’d been hearing them for two weeks already and wasn’t answering. But that didn’t stop me.
February 6, 2020
Mike Bowman whistled cheerfully as he drove the Land Rover through the Cabo Blanco Biological Reserve, on the west coast of Costa Rica. It was a beautiful morning in July, and the road before him was spectacular: hugging the edge of a cliff, overlooking the jungle and the blue Pacific. According to the guidebooks, Cabo Blanco was unspoiled wilderness, almost a paradise. Seeing it now made Bowman feel as if the vacation was back on track.
February 5, 2020
Getting punched hard in the face is a singular experience. I highly reommend it to anyone who is a little too cocky, obnoxious, or insensitive. I also recommend it to people who think they’re smart enough to avoid getting punched in the face by the likes of Henry Stagg.
January 31, 2020
I heard Candy out in the front yard calling Gram Mon. Me and Toddy and Minnie was sitting at the table eating, and Gram Mon was at the stove looking in the pot to see if she had enough food left in there for supper. I could hear Candy out in the yard, going: “Oh, Aunto Glo; oh, Aunt Glo, oh, Aunt Glo.” I jumped up from my chair to go see what she wanted, but Gram Mon told me to sit back down there and finish my food, ’cause my name wasn’t Glo, or Aunt.
January 30, 2020
I never had a brain until Freak came along and let me borrow his for a while, and that’s the truth, the whole truth. The unvanquished truth, is how Freak would say it, and for a long time it was him who did the talking.
January 29, 2020
Over the last three decades, fast food has infiltrated every nook and cranny of American society.
January 24, 2020
It was ill–ill being a good thing for it to be. The basement was dim. The couch was soft and comfortable, perfectly molded to the contours of my butt by the thousands of hours I’d spent on it. And the aliens coming out of the smoldering wreckage of the mothership were dazed and slow, ripe for the blasting.
January 23, 2020
Long before they planted beets in Argus and built the highways, there was a railroad. Along the track, which crossed the Dakota–Minnesota border and stretched on to Minneapolis, everything that made the town arrived. All that diminished the town departed by that route, too.
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.