1940s

7 articles
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Symbols and Signs

Russian immigrant parents attempt to visit their troubled son in a mental hospital.

"He excludes real people from the conspiracy, because he considers himself to be so much more intelligent than other men. Phenomenal nature shadows him wherever he goes. Clouds in the staring sky transmit to each other, by means of slow signs, incredibly detailed information regarding him. His in- most thoughts are discussed at nightfall, in manual alphabet, by darkly gesticulating trees. Pebbles or stains or sun flecks form patterns representing, in some awful way, messages that he must intercept. Everything is a cipher and of everything he is the theme."

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Miriam

A widow meets the acquaintance of a mysterious, frightening young girl.

"Miriam ate ravenously, and when the sandwiches and milk were gone, her fingers made cobweb movements over the plate, gathering crumbs. The cameo gleamed on her blouse, the blond profile like a trick reflection on its wearer. 'That was very nice,' she sighed, 'though now an almond cake or a cherry would be ideal. Sweets are lovely, don’t you think?' Mrs. Miller was perched precariously on the hassock, smoking a cigarette. Her hairnet had slipped lopsided and loose strands straggled down her face. Her eyes were stupidly concentrated on nothing and her cheeks were mottled in red patches, as though a fierce slap had left permanent marks."

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Christmas Is a Sad Season For the Poor

On Christmas Day, an elevator operator cons holiday charity out of a variety of tenants.

"On the way home from work a few nights earlier, Charlie had seen a woman and a little girl going down Fifty-ninth Street. The little girl was crying. He guessed she was crying, he knew she was crying, because she'd seen all the things in the toy-store windows and couldn't understand why none of them were for her. Her mother did housework, he guessed, or maybe was a waitress, and he saw them going back to a room like his, with green walls and no heat, on Christmas Eve, to eat a can of soup. And he saw the little girl hang up her ragged stocking and fall asleep, and he saw the mother looking through her purse for something to put into the stocking—This reverie was interrupted by a bell on 11. He went up, and Mr. and Mrs. Fuller were waiting. When they wished him a merry Christmas, he said, 'Well, it isn't much of a holiday for me, Mrs. Fuller. Christmas is a sad season when you’re poor."

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The Library of Babel

Infinite libraries in infinite space, a fabulist story of obsession and madness.

"A memory of unspeakable melancholy: at times I have traveled for many nights through corridors and along polished stairways without finding a single librarian."

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The Library Of Babel

Infinite libraries in infinite space: this was our first shared story one year ago yesterday.

"A memory of unspeakable melancholy: at times I have traveled for many nights through corridors and along polished stairways without finding a single librarian."

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This Sandwich Has No Mayonnaise

A story about Holden Caulfield's older brother, published six years before Catcher In The Rye

"While you dance and the band plays on, you think about everything in the world except music and dancing. You wonder if your little sister Phoebe is remembering to take your dog out regularly, if she's remembering not to jerk Joey's collar—the kid'll kill the dog someday."

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The Library Of Babel

Infinite libraries in infinite space.

"A memory of unspeakable melancholy: at times I have traveled for many nights through corridors and along polished stairways without finding a single librarian. "