Passages records the books I'm reading, the live music I'm hearing, and the movies I'm seeing. Every now and then I'll throw in a passage from a book I read a while back or a trailer from a old favorite movie. Occasionally, there is something that simply caught my eye. But most of it is what I'm reading and hearing and watching in real time.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Love And Summer

She tried to think about all that, to see before she came to it another blackened area, a different place from last time, his way of keeping the track clear. Badgers had been here once and he had shown her their setts. It was easier not to feel a stranger to herself here, to tell herself that she had allowed a convent-child's make-belief to have its way with her, to be ashamed and know it was right to be ashamed. It was easier because everything around her made sense in a way she understood. The confusion of thoughts that did not feel her own made no sense at all.

William Trevor, Love And Summer (2009)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Name Of The World

I doubt there were more than a dozen others at the tables around us. All men. Middle-aged, middle income, midwestern. Golfers. In this twilight they were more imagined than seen, but I felt surrounded by the practitioners of a sacred mediocrity cloistering inaccessible tortures. I don't know quite how to put it. People, men, proud of their cliches yet full of helpless poetry. Meanwhile the music whamming and bamming. The women shaking themselves almost shyly.

Denis Johnson, The Name Of The World (2000)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Lines Of Vision: Irish Writers On Art

Works of art that arrest our attention, stop us in our tracks and consume us with possibilities are often not mirrors of our lives but rather they are prisms that we subtly adjust to reflect other peoples' experiences in broken parallels to our own. We do not see our past, we see another past and, with a jolting empathy, it can cut to the core of our being, in a reflection of our lives and, sometimes, our loss.

Bernard Farrell, "A Painting and a Poem" (2014)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Andy Zipf

Ray Bonneville


All I knew then was that this was my country, my home, without a beginning and without an end, and that to be Jewish was fundamentally no more significant than to be born with dark hair and not with red. Foremost we were Swabians, then Germans and then Jews. How else could I feel? How could my father feel otherwise? Or my father's grandfather? We were not poor 'Pollacken' who had been persecuted by the Czar. Of course we could not and would not deny that we were 'of Jewish extraction', any more than anybody would dream of denying that my Uncle Henri, whom we had not seen for ten years, was one of the family. But this 'Jewish extraction' meant little more than that once a year, on the Day of Atonement, my mother would go to a synagogue and my father would neither smoke nor travel, not because he believed in Judaism but because he didn't want to hurt other people's feelings.

Fred Uhlman, Reunion (1971)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

My Lensless Imaging

Willie Anne Wright, My Lensless Imaging / Pinhole Photographs and Photograms: 1972-2002 (2003)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Revelers

The Poets' Wives

She knows that the greatest source of their power, a power that seems to endure, is that they have silenced the voices. And not just the voices of political dissent but also the voices of the artists - writers, composers, painters, playwrights. All of them bound to a lifetime of artistic servitude. She believes that Osip was right when he declared that in their country poetry was held in such high esteem that a poem could cost you your life. They had come to know the bitter truth of that.

David Park, The Poets' Wives (2014)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Shall We Gather At The River

He learns that language is power, in law, politics, poetry, church or state. A preacher must dominate his congregation the way some folk command animals, for man is like any other beast: sometimes you have to shout to get his ear, sometimes you must pin him down like a snake, or smack him on the nose like a disobedient mutt. But above all a preacher must speak in his own voice, forged of his own experience, for the Holy Spirit is the agent of the original, not the counterfeit, and that is why the Devil is jealous of the Almighty: the Devil is limited to imitation of what is, unable to create what is not. He is a trickster who can throw his voice but never once strikes an original note.

Peter Murphy, Shall We Gather At The River (2013)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sean Scully: Walls Of Aran

Photographs: Sean Scully

Essay: Colm Toibin

I was moving into a world of nature governed by wind and weather, sharp and soft lines of horizon, disappearing perspectives, high skies and great banks of cloud, and a world of people governed by careful politeness, watchful slow glances, and deliberate understatement.

Colm Toibin, Sean Scully: Walls of Aran (2007)

Monday, July 13, 2015

New Town Soul

I suppose we are all hobos until God claims our souls.

Dermot Bolger, New Town Soul (2011)

Captain Blood (movie)

A God In Ruins

The war now was for him a jumble of random images that haunted his sleeping self -- the Alps in the moonlight, a propeller blade flying through the air, a face pale in the water. Well, good luck to you then. Sometimes this overwhelming stench of lilacs, at other times a sweetly held dance tune. And always at the end of the nightmare there was the inescapable end itself, the fire and the sickening hurtle of the fall to earth. In the nightmare we wake ourselves before the awful end, before the fall, but Teddy had to be woken by Nancy's shushing, by her cradle hand soothing him, and he would stare into the darkness for a long time wondering what would happen to him if she failed to wake him one night.

He had been reconciled to death during the war and then suddenly the war was over and there was a next day and a next day and a next day. Part of him never adjusted to having a future.

Kate Atkinson, A God In Ruins (2015)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Colloquy of the Dogs

Look you, Berganza, no one should interfere where he is not wanted, nor take upon himself a business that is in no wise his concern. Besides, you ought to know, that the advice of the poor, however good it may be, is never taken; nor should the lowly presume to offer advice to the great, who fancy they know everything. Wisdom in a poor man lies under a cloud, and cannot be seen; or if by chance it shines through it, people mistake it for folly, and treat it with contempt.

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, The Colloquy Of The Dogs (1613)

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Art Of Racing In The Rain

The now-living zebra said nothing to me at all, but when it saw me, it began a dance, a twisting, jerky ballet which culminated with the zebra repeatedly thrusting its gelded groin into the face of an innocent Barbie doll. That made me quite angry, and I growled at the molester zebra, but it simply smiled and continued its assault, this time picking on a stuffed frog, which it mounted from behind and rode bareback, its hoof in the air like a bronc rider, yelling out, "Yee-haw! Yee-haw!"

I stalked the bastard as it abused and humiliated each of Zoe's toys with great malice. Finally, I could take no more and moved in, teeth bared for attack, to end the brutal burlesque once and for all. But before I could get the demented zebra in my fangs, it stopped dancing and stood on its hind legs before me. The it reached down with its forelegs and tore at the seam that ran down its belly. Its own seam! It ripped the seam open until it was able to reach in and tear out its own stuffing. It continued dismantling itself, seam by seam, handful by handful, until it expelled whatever demon's blood had brought it to life and was nothing more than a pile of fabric and stuffing that undulated on the floor, beating like a heart ripped from a chest, slowly, slower, and then nothing.

Garth Stein, The Art Of Racing In The Rain (2008)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Eye Stone

It was the first time in his life that Edgardo had slept under the same roof as a woman. Although their beds were not close, he thought he could hear her breath and heartbeat. Even when the mind is not willing, and the body is not willing either, desire awakens and sin takes over your soul. He tossed and turned under the blanket, unable to sleep. The night silence had turned into a racket. The swish of the waves along the shore had become a waterfall, and the cry of an owl had become a call of death. The faint flame of the oil lamp squashed the shadows into the floor, awakening glistening eyes and fragments of stars.

Edgardo started to pray as he had been taught to by monks when he could not sleep for love or money. However, Kallis's breath and heartbeat seemed to grow louder and dance around him. He continued to repeat his litany to chase away thoughts and images.

Roberto Tiraboschi, The Eye Stone: The First Medieval Noir About The Birth Of Venice, (2014)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Some Desperate Glory

Siegfried Sassoon, engaged in polishing his golf clubs, looked at this 'modest and ingratiating' visitor, taking in his occasional stammer, 'border Welsh' accent and gushing idolatry. 'The Death Bed', [Wilfred] Owen said, was the finest poem in the book; its author would have liked this, wishing to be known for his lyrical works rather than his satires. The visitor said that he too was a poet. What, Sassoon wondered, could this 'interesting little chap' have written?

Max Egremont, Some Desperate Glory: The First World War The Poets Knew (2014)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Roosevelt And Stalin

He had articulated this idea in the exceedingly short but pointed inaugural address he had delivered, standing on the south porch of the White House on a bitterly cold morning (hatless, capeless) just before leaving for the Yalta Conference. It contained a section clearly directed not only at Stalin but at Allied decision makers wondering if he was on the level:

We have learned the simple truth, as Emerson said, that 'The only way to have a friend is to be one.' We can gain no lasting piece if we approach it with suspicion and mistrust or with fear. We can gain it only if we proceed with the understanding, and the courage which flow from this conviction.

Every action Roosevelt took in the few months left to him flowed from this idea. Churchill must have listened to the speech (and to most of the ideas FDR expressed in 1945) with a sinking heart.

Susan Butler, Roosevelt And Stalin: Portrait Of A Partnership (2015)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

We Should All Be Feminists

I was once talking about gender and a man said to me, 'Why does it have to be you as a woman? Why not you as a human being?' This type of question is about silencing a person's specific experiences. Of course I am a human being, but there are particular things that happen to me in the world because I am a woman.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists (2014)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Benito Cereno

Yes, this a strange craft; a strange history, too, and strange folks on board. But -- nothing more.

Herman Melville, Benito Cereno (1855)

Thursday, April 2, 2015


In an envelope marked:


God gave me a letter.

In an envelope marked:


I have given my answer.

Langston Hughes

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Chavez Ravine

I had a 78 record album by Roy Rogers called Lore of the West. Roy and his buddies sang western songs and told western stories, all much more interesting than my life was at the time. The story had something to do with poor sheep ranchers struggling against a wicked outlaw gang that was backed up by a secret cartel of corrupt politicians, railroad interests, and greedy land speculators. The sheep ranchers lost, but the winners were contaminated and ugly. "A hard-boiled egg's always yellow inside," Roy said. I think "Chavez Ravine" is the same story, something Roy would have understood.

Ry Cooder, liner notes to Chavez Ravine (2005)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Young Skins

'The marriage was insanity.'

'The glory days,' Doran said wistfully. 'You say we had our moments, but not you. You were a good boy for so long. Sensible, abstemious. You were, Eli,sorry, that sounds like an insult but it's not. Only she could turn you out of your equilibrium. She had a knack for it.'

'Not that she meant it, I don't think,' Eli mused. 'But she did make you want to lie down in the middle of traffic, alright.'

'Was that how it felt?' Doran asked.

'That's how it feels how it felt like,' Eli said. 'But I don't know. I don't know how it was for her. At all.'

Eli took a sip of his beer, Doran a deep quaff. The barman showed no signs of resurfacing; the clock ticked on.

Colin Barrett, Young Skins (2014)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Bill Of The Century

But their commitment would not have been nearly as strong had the civil rights community and the LCCR [Leadership Conference on Civil Rights] not brought constant pressure to act; though Katzenbach then and later railed on the liberals, and though Robert Kennedy repeatedly referred to then as "sons of bitches," their work was absolutely vital in providing political cover for the administration to accept a stronger bill. If the Civil Rights Act is a landmark in the history of racial progress in America, it is also a testament to the power of ordinary citizens to band together and drive their government to move forward.

Clay Risen, The Bill Of The Century: The Epic Battle For The Civil Rights Act (2014)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The World Of Raymond Chandler

It was all too much too soon for a town that had no evolved culture of its own. What had emerged, Chandler saw as being just as much the product of bland mass production and advertising. He called it "the culture of the filter-tipped cigarette...leading to a steakless steak to be broiled on a heatless broiler in a non-existent oven and eaten by a toothless ghost."

The World of Raymond Chandler, edited by Barry Day (2014)

I smelled Los Angeles before I got to it. It smelled stale and old like a living room that had been closed too long. But the colored light fooled you.

Raymond Chandler, The Little Sister (1949)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Short And Tragic Life Of Robert Peace

Yesterday Rob had walked about the same distance from our room to Science Hill for biology class: past Sterling Memorial Library and its four million books, across the marble stones of Beinecke Plaza with its sculpted memorials paying tribute to Yale students lost in both world wars, beneath the forty-foot golden dome of Woolsey Hall, past the university president's mansion on Hillhouse Avenue toward the modernist twenty-storty building around which were clustered eleven different science labs, each of them larger than St. Benedict's. Today, he walked through the network of dealers who governed Vailsburg Park, along Central Avenue, a few blocks from where the Moore sisters had been killed, and then to Chapman Street. Along the way, he passed small houses, tall project towers, struggling businesses gating their doors, and poor people going wherever they were going, heads angled down. And with every step some sector of his consciousness must have wondered how he'd gone from this world to that, why he'd gone, for what larger purpose.

Jeff Hobbes, The Short And Tragic Life Of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark For The Ivy League (2014)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

It's lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky, up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made, or only just happened -- Jim he allowed they was made, but I allowed they happened; I judged it would have took too long to make so many. Jim said the moon could a laid them; well, that looked kind of reasonable, so I didn't say nothing against it, because I've seen a frog lay most as many, so of course it could be done. We used to watch the stars that fell, too, and see them streak down. Jim allowed they'd got spoiled and was hove out of the nest.

Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)

Friday, January 30, 2015

Train Dreams

Granier was aware only of a great amazement, and then he was high in the sky, while his stomach was somewhere else. It never did catch up with him. He looked down at the fairgrounds as if from a cloud. The earth's surface turned sideways, and he misplaced all sense of up and down. The craft righted itself and began a slow, rackety ascent, winding its way upward like a wagon around a mountain. Except for the churning in his gut, Grainier felt he might be getting accustomed to it all. At this point the pilot looked backward at him, resembling a raccoon in his cap and goggles, shouting and baring his teeth, and then he faced forward. The plane began to plummet like a hawk, steeper and steeper, its engine almost silent, and Grainer's organs pressed back against his spine. He saw the moment with his wife and child as they drank Hood's Sarsaparilla, in their cabin on a summer's night, then another cabin he'd never remembered before, the places of his hidden childhood, a vast golden wheat field, heat shimmering above a road, arms encircling him, and a woman's voice crooning, and all the mysteries of this life were answered. The present world materialized before his eyes as the engine roared and the plane leveled off, circled the fairgrounds once, and returned to earth, landing so abruptly Grainier's throat nearly jumped out of his mouth.

Denis Johnson, Train Dreams (2011)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

All that was elegant is shabby

All that was elegant is shabby, all that was noble is shabby. All that once told of civilized elegance now speaks of ruthless barbarism.

Union Army surgeon in the aftermath of the Fredricksburg campaign, December 1862

The Ghosts Of Belfast

Fegan moved around the coffin, heading for the door. McGinty blocked his path.

"I mean it, Gerry. Don't test me. You don't want to tell her, all right, but don't interfere."

Fegan stepped to one side, but McGinty gripped his arm, and the two looked hard into each other's eyes. The politician's thin lips broke into a soft smile. He cupped Fegan's face in his hands, leaned in, and placed a dry kiss on his cheek.

"We've always been such good friends," McGinty said. "Ever since you were a kid. Don't fuck it up over a woman. Not a whore like Marie McKenna."

Fegan's cheek burned. He pulled away and finally reached the door. The people on the landing made way for him, and he hurried down the stairs.

Stuart Neville, The Ghosts Of Belfast (2009)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

John Moreland

Capital Ale House, Richmond VA, 1/22/15:

Fred Eaglesmith

Ashland Coffee and Tea, Ashland VA, 1/8/15:

The Words Of Martin Luther King, Jr.

I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will will proclaim the rule of the land. 'And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid.' I still believe that we shall overcome.

Martin Luther King, Jr., The Words Of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1984)


Inherent Vice

Doc ended up sticking around till closing time and watched Coy getting into the sinister Mercury woodie that had chased Doc down the canyon the other night. He walked down to the Arizona Palms and had the All-Nighter Special, then sat through the dawn reading the paper and waited out the morning rush hour at a window with a downhill view into the smoglight, the traffic reduced to streams of reflective trim, twinkling ghostly along the nearer boulevards, soon vanishing into brown bright distance. It wasn't so much Coy he kept cycling back to as Hope, who believed, with no proof, that her husband hadn't died, and Amethyst, who ought to have something more than fading Polaroids to go to when she got them little-kid blues.

Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice (2009)