On Being Blue

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"Blue pencils, blue noses, blue movies, laws, blue legs and stockings, the language of birds, bees, and flowers as sung by longshoremen, that lead-like look the skin has when affected by cold, contusion, sickness, fear; the rotten rum or gin they call blue ruin and the blue devils of its delirium; Russian cats and oysters, a withheld or imprisoned breath, the blue they say that diamonds have, deep holes in the ocean and the blazers which English athletes earn that gentlemen may wear; afflictions of the spirit -- dumps, mopes, Mondays -- all that’s dismal -- low-down gloomy music, Nova Scotians, cyanosis, hair rinse, bluing, bleach..."

-- William Gass, On Being Blue

New York Review of Books, February 6, 2014

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"Which brings us to the question of the two paths for fiction. If Wallace's, at the end, was written with an awareness of a world teeming with information and distraction that made connection unprecedentedly hard, his fiction expressed a way for the individual to connect in that world nonetheless: fighting through the information for a place of understanding. [...] But if fiction is to continue to exert an influence over a culture that finds it ever easier to connect, however frailly, to the world around them through technology, Saunders's stories suggest that the ambition to connect outwardly isn't the only path we can choose. Rather, his fiction shows us that the path to reconciliation with our condition is inward, a journey we must make alone." 

-- Wyatt Mason, "Make This Not True"

"Nothing to Envy"

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"The trees were untrimmed, stone benches cracked, paving stones missing like rotten teeth. By the mid-1990s, nearly everything in North Korea was worn out, broken, malfunctioning. The country had seen better days. But the imperfections were not so glaring at night. The hot-springs pool, murky and choked with weeds, was luminous with the reflection of the sky above."

-- Barbara Demick, Nothing to Envy

The New Yorker's "Page-Turner"

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"In 1942, in Brno, my father’s family hid a man in the rabbit hutch for a week, until he could be moved. That’s all I know of the story, and now it’s all I’ll ever know. With no one to check me, error will spread like weeds. Which is how the past is transmuted into fiction, and then the fool’s gold of history."

-- Mark Slouka, "Nobody's Son"

The Paris Review, Issue 207

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"Another present was a board game involving endangered species. A board game -- there was that optimism again. Or she was doing what our mother used to do -- giving me something that required another person, so that I would have to bring another person into my life. I actually meet plenty of people. I even meet them traveling. Most people are basically pretty friendly. It's true that I still live alone, I'm just more comfortable that way, I like having everything the way I want it. But having a board game wasn't going to encourage me to bring someone home to play it with me."

-- Lydia Davis, "The Seals"