An inventive spoof on childhood mystery novels.
"Almanac's father fell face forward onto the concrete garage floor, dead, blood pooling beneath him, and ending Almanac's childhood right then and there."
“If you have read 6,000 books in your lifetime, or even 600, it’s probably because at some level you find “reality” a bit of a disappointment.”
After being caught in a downpour, a traveler takes refuge in the home of a twisted old man; Happy Halloween.
"As the man mumbled on in his shocking ecstasy the expression on his hairy, spectacled face became indescribable, but his voice sank rather than mounted. My own sensations can scarcely be recorded. All the terror I had dimly felt before rushed upon me actively and vividly, and I knew that I loathed the ancient and abhorrent creature so near me with an infinite intensity. His madness, or at least his partial perversion, seemed beyond dispute. He was almost whispering now, with a huskiness more terrible than a scream, and I trembled as I listened."
The author ("media inventor" Robin Sloan) describes this as a "short story about recession, attraction, and data visualization."
"That night, at the bookstore, I started working on the new visualization, thinking I could impress Kat with a prototype. I am really into the kind of girl you can impress with a prototype."
On collecting books.
I have lived in books, for books, by and with books; in recent years, I have been fortunate enough to be able to live from books. And it was through books that I first realised there were other worlds beyond my own; first imagined what it might be like to be another person; first encountered that deeply intimate bond made when a writer's voice gets inside a reader's head.
How Google’s utopian/dystopian plan to scan the world’s books failed and the Harvard-led team that’s picking up the pieces.
Inside the Shel Silverstein archive.
One of the things you learn is that “polymath” doesn’t even begin to describe Silverstein. His creativity extended in so many directions that his archivists must be versed not just in turn-of-the-century world children’s literature, but Waylon Jennings’s deep cuts; not just in reel-to-reel tape preservation, but how to keep an old restaurant napkin scribbled with lyrics from falling apart.
On New Year's Eve, a man sits by a fire, reading and recalling accounts of exotic and perilous journeys.
"Why does this traveller's fate obscure, on New Year's Eve, the other histories of travellers with which my mind was filled but now, and cast a solemn shadow over me! Must I one day make his journey? Even so. Who shall say, that I may not then be tortured by such late regrets: that I may not then look from my exile on my empty place and undone work?"
The demise of America’s favorite mega-bookstore and the factors beyond the e-book boom that fueled the book retail meltdown.
A young man Japanese man visits his estranged, domineering father.
"Still, it was not their physical features that made it difficult for Tengo to identify with his father but their psychological makeup. His father showed no sign at all of what might be called intellectual curiosity. True, having been born in poverty he had not had a decent education. Tengo felt a degree of pity for his father’s circumstances. But a basic desire to obtain knowledge—which Tengo assumed to be a more or less natural urge in people—was lacking in the man."
The grimy despair of drug addiction: Celebrating Banned Books Week 2011.
"The D.S. retches into his handkerchief and points to the door with a limp hand. The Buyer stands up looking at the D.S. dreamily. His body begins to dip like a dowser’s wand. He flows forward..."
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. "