Book of the Day Archive
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.
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.