Book of the Day Archive
October 18, 2019
Everyone had always said that John would be a preacher when he grew up, just like his father. It had been said so often that John, without every thinking about it, had come to believe it himself. Not until the morning of his fourteenth birthday did he really begin to think about it, and by then it was already too late.
October 17, 2019
Deep in the heart of India, a mighty mountain separated two villages. On Manjhi’s side, nothing grew. People were hungry. Children gave up walking the 40 long miles to school on the other side of the mountain.
October 16, 2019
A long time ago, when all the grandfathers and grandmothers of today were little boys and little girls or very small babies, or perhaps not even born, Pa and Ma and Mary and Laura and baby Carrie left their little house in the Big Woods of Wisconsin.
October 11, 2019
The first time Moses dropped a dollar in my cup, I didn’t even know his name. I looked up at him, glad for the dollar. Maybe I said thanks, but it’s blurry sometimes, my memory is. Once moment clear as water, then another moment, and it’s like somebody’s erasing bits and pieces of it.
October 10, 2019
Saturday, August 3, 1793. The sun came up, as it had every day since the end of May, bright, hot and unrelenting. The swamps and marshes south of Philadelphia had already lost a great deal of water to the intense heat, while the Delaware and the Schuykill Rivers had receded to reveal long stretches of their muddy, root-choked banks. Dead fish and gooey vegetable matter were exposed and rotted, while swarms of insects droned in the heavy, humid air.
October 9, 2019
History has failed us, but no matter. At the turn of the century, an aging fisherman and his wife decided to take in lodgers for extra money. Both were born and raised in the fishing village of Yeongdo–a five-mile wide islet beside the port city of Busan.
October 4, 2019
From time to time, I bother to notice them. Tourists. They come reeking of their bug repellents and their sunscreens, and the clicker-snap of their cameras nibbles away at the song of the swamp until I wonder if they can hear it at all.
October 3, 2019
“You must not tell anyone,” my mother said, “what I am about to tell you. In China your father had a sister who killed herself. She jumped into the family as well. We say that your father has all brothers because it is as if she had never been born.
October 2, 2019
I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster.
September 27, 2019
I sprang up from mother earth She clothed me in her own colors I was nourished by father sun He glazed the pottery of my skin I am beautiful by design.
September 26, 2019
Today I’m five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I’m changed to five, abracadabra. Before that I was three, then two, then one, then zero. “Was I minus numbers?”
September 25, 2019
Mostly out of laziness, I decide to start my low-wage life in the town nearest to where I actually live, Key West, Florida, which with a population of about 25,000 is elbowing its way up to the status of a genuine city. The downside of familiarity, I soon realize, is that it’s not easy to go from being a consumer, thoughtlessly throwing money around in exchange for groceries and movies and gas, to being a worker in the very same place.
September 20, 2019
Ella cranked the handle on the phonograph, and the three Boswell Sisters crooned, with honey in their voices: “When I take my sugar to tea, All the girls are jealous of me…”
September 19, 2019
Among other public buildings in the town of Mudfog, it boasts of one which is common to most towns great or small, to wit, a workhouse, and in this workhouse there was born on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, inasmuch as it can be of no possible consequence to the reader, in this stage of the business at all events, the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.
September 18, 2019
He went there to learn how to give a good perm and ended up just crazy about nails so He opened up His own shop. “Nail by Jim” He called it.
September 13, 2019
We’re running across long, wavy grass, racing for the first corner. I’m right at the front, being pushed on by the charge of legs all around me, the quick breathing of my schoolmates.
September 12, 2019
My parents still think I’m their little girl. I don’t want them to see me getting bigger, bigger every week, almost too big to hide it now. But if I don’t go home, where can I go? Jason said, You could get rid of it. I thought of how he tossed the broken condom in the trash, saying, Nothing.
September 11, 2019
Long before there was race and even before there was politics, there were Saturday mornings in the playground.
September 6, 2019
I was the closest kingdom to the queen’s, as the crow flies, but not even the crows flew it. The high mountain range that served as the border between the two kingdoms discouraged crows as much as it discouraged people, and it was considered unpassable.
September 5, 2019
The boy’s name was Santiago. Dusk was falling as the boy arrived with his herd at an abandoned church. The roof had fallen in long ago, and an enormous sycamore had grown on the spot where the sacristy had once stood.
September 4, 2019
My grandfather, the knife fighter, killed two Germans before he was eighteen. I don’t remember anyone telling me–it was something I always seemed to know, the way I knew the Yankees wore pinstripes for home games and gray for the road.
August 30, 2019
12th Day of September. I am commanded to write an account of my days: I am bit by fleas and plagued by family. That is all there is to say.
August 29, 2019
Whenever my mother talks to me, she begins the conversation as if we were already in the middle of an argument. “Pearl-ah, have to go, no choice,” my mother said when she phoned last week.
August 28, 2019
“Once upon a time…” If I could get away with it, that’s how I’d begin every essay I write.
August 23, 2019
We live in the most confusing period in human history. In the past 200 years we have made more advances in science, industry, medicine, democratic government, and the status of women than in all previous centuries combined.
August 22, 2019
Not long after I moved with my family to a small town in New Hampshire I happened upon a path that vanished into a wood on the edge of town.
August 21, 2019
One summer night I fell asleep, hoping the world would be different when I woke. In the morning, when I opened my eyes, the world was the same.
August 16, 2019
Hot sun and hummingbirds. Orange trees with dark green leaves. These were some of John James Audubon’s earliest memories.
August 15, 2019
Dad had Uncle Eddie round, so naturally they had to come and see what I was up to. If Uncle Eddie (who is bald as a coot) says to me one more time, “Should bald heads be buttered?” I may kill myself.
August 14, 2019
July 1999. One woman stands alone, off to the side of the crowd. She paces back and forth–agitated, excited, impatient.