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We lost Milo this year but I'm going to start reading books to dedicate these pages to him. Miss you, feller.


“Void Moon” Michael Connelly

“The Theory of Death” Faye Kellerman

“Killer Ambition” Marcia Clark

“Land of Echoes” Daniel Hecht

Joe Billie looked a little unsteady on the bumper as he beckoned Joseph toward him with a gesture from his cigarette. There was a glint in his eye, mischief or command. Closer, Joseph could smell both the stale funk of metabolized booze and sharp tang of fresh whiskey that surrounded him.
“I’m full of shit,” Uncle Joe rasped quietly. “I’m completely full up to shit. And Navajos are full of shit. Every one of them, all the things they do and believe, full up to here with it. Disorganized, can’t run their own public services. Politicians in Window Rock corrupt and full of themselves. Old people with their crazy superstitions, kids all spoiled, watching too much TV, doing drugs. Idn’t it? This I believe, just like you. But now for the big secret, Joseph: Everybody is full of shit! Anglos, Mexicans, French, Jews, Chinese, these Arabs––they’re equally full of it! The way they live. What they think. Their old beliefs. They way they treat each other. No more or no less than the Diné.”
The old man leaned back against the tailgate and drew on his cigarette with a hard glint of satisfaction in his eyes, as if having delivered this drunken pearl he’d accomplished a great deal.

No theory of human psychology could be considered accurate or complete unless if accommodated the principle that mind is to some degree independent of brain or body and that the human personality is shaped by psychological and social influences that extend beyond the physical lifetime.

“The Silence of the Sea” Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

“State of Wonder” Ann Patchett

“Now you are being purposefully ridiculous. I have very little respect for what passes as science around here. There’s nothing a Westerner loves more than the idea of being cured by tinctures made of boiled roots. They think this place is some sort of magical medicine chest, but for the most prat the treatments here consist of poorly recorded gossip handed down throughout the ages from people who knew very little to people who know even less. There is much to be taken from the jungle, obviously––I am here to develop a drug––but in most cases the plants are as useless as the potted begonia that grows on your kitchen windowsill. The ones that do have potential can only be medicinal when they are properly employed. For these people there is no concept of a dosage, not set lengths for treatments. When something works it seems to me nothing short of a miracle.”

“Cross the Line” James Patterson

“The Hours” Michael Cunningham

He will not ask the name of the movie star; he actually does not care. Richard, alone among Clarissa’s acquaintance, has no essential interest in famous people. Richard genuinely does not recognize such distinctions. It is, Clarissa thinks, some combination of monumental ego and a kind of savantism. Richard cannot imagine a life more interesting or worthwhile than those being lived by his acquaintances and himself, and for that reason one often feels exalted, expanded, in his presence. He is not one of those egotists who miniaturize others. He is the opposite kind of egotist, driven by grandiosity rather than greed, and if he insists on a version of you that is funnier, stranger, more eccentric and profound than you suspect yourself to be––capable of doing more good and more harm in the world than you’ve ever imagined––it is all but impossible not to believe, at least in his presence and for a while after you’ve left him, that he alone sees through to your essence, weighs your true qualities (not all of which are necessarily flattering––a certain clumsy, childish rudeness is part of his style), and appreciates you more fully than anyone else ever has. It is only after knowing him for some time that you begin to realize you are, to him, an essentially fictional character, one he has invested with nearly limitless capacities for tragedy and comedy not because that is your true nature but because he, Richard, needs to live in a world peopled by extreme and commanding figures. Some have ended their relation with him rather than continue as figures in the epic poem he is always composing inside his head, the story of his life and passions; but others (Clarissa among them) enjoy the sense of hyperbole he brings to their lives, have come to depend on it, the way they depend on coffee to wake them up in the mornings and a drink or two to send them off at night.

“Yes,” Angelica says. Already, at five, she can feign grave enthusiasm for the task at hand, when all she truly wants is for everyone to admire her work and then set her free. Quentin kneels with the bird and gently, immeasurably gently, lays it on the grass. Oh, if men were the brutes and women the angels––if it were as simple as that. Virginia thinks of Leonard frowning over the proofs, intent on scouring away not only the setting errors but whatever taint of mediocrity errors imply. She thinks of Julian last summer, rowing across the Ouse, his sleeves rolled up to his elbows, and how it had seemed to be the day, the moment, he became a man and not a child.

Yes, Clarissa thinks, it’s time for the day to be over. We throw our parties; we abandon our families to live alone in Canada; we struggle to write books that do not change the world, despite our gifts and our unstinting efforts, our most extravagant hopes. We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep––it’s as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out of windows or drown themselves or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us, the vast majority, are slowly devoured by some disease or, if we’re very fortunate, by time itself. There’s just this for consolation; and hour here and there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we’ve ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) knows these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more.

“The Hunt Club” John Lescroart

“The Last Mile” David Baldacci

“Unlocking Creativity” Michael Beinhorn

“Travels in the Scriptorium” Paul Auster

“Tripwire” Lee Child

“The Silkworm” Robert Galbraith

It was like Lucy to throw him a birthday dinner at her own house. She was fundamentally unimaginative and, even though she often seemed more harried there than anywhere else, she rated her home’s attractions highly. It was like her to insist on giving him a dinner he didn’t want, but which she could not understand him not wanting. Birthdays in Lucy’s world were always celebrated, never forgotten: there must be cake and candles and cards and presents; time must be marked, order preserved, traditions upheld.

“I was with Charlotte sixteen years, on and off,” said Strike, picking up his second burger. “Mostly off. She hated my job. It’s what kept breaking us up–one of the things that kept breaking us up,” he corrected himself, scrupulously honest. “She couldn’t understand a vocation. Some people can’t; at best, work’s about status and paychecks for them, it hasn’t got value in itself.”

“Man In the Dark” Paul Auster

“The Museum of Extraordinary Things” Alice Hoffmann

“The Odds” Stewart O’Nan

“Third Degree” Greg Iles

“The Affair” Lee Child

“Flight Behavior” Barbara Kingsolver

Dellarobia thought Men’s Fellowship had its appeal, all the more so right now as the audience heaved into verse four of “What a Friend,” dragging it like a plow through heavy clay. Certainly in Men’s Fellowship no one ever made you sing. She just wished it had a more welcoming vibe for the female of the species.

Of course she knew why. Why did people ask Dear Abby how to behave, or take Johnny Midgeon’s word on which men in D.C. were crooks? It was the same on all sides, the yuppies watched smart-mouthed comedians who mocked people living in double-wides who listened to country music. The very word Tennessee made those audiences burst into laughter, she’d heard it. They would never come see what Tennessee was like, any more than she would get a degree in science and figure out the climate things Dr/ Byron described. Nobody truly decided for themselves. There was too much information. What they actually did was scope around, decide who was looking out for their clan, and sign on for the memos on a wide variety of topics.

As habitually as a prayer, Dellarobia wished she were a different wife, for whom Cub’s good heart outweighed his bad grammar. Some sickness made her deride his simplicity. Really the infection was everywhere. On television, deriding people was hip. The elderly, the naive––it shocked her sometimes hoe the rules had changed. A night or two ago they’d seen comedians mocking some old guy in camp overalls who could have been anybody, a neighbor. Not an actor, this was a real man, standing near his barn someplace with a plug of tobacco in his lip, discussing the weather and his coonhounds. Billy Ray Hatch: she and Cub repeated the name aloud, as though he might be some kin. It was one of the late-night shows that archly twisted comedy with news. Somehow they’d found this fellow and traveled to his home to ask ridiculous questions. After each reply the interviewer nodded in a stagy way, creasing his eyebrows in fake fascination. So the whole world could see Billy Ray Hatch made into a monkey. Cub changed the channel.

“The Overlook” Michael Connelly

“By George” Wesley Stace

In the middle of the play, the writer, despite his best attempts with the animal-loving Androcles, whom he had provided with a modicum of funny lines, committed the greatest sin of all: he resorted to speechifying, as Frankie called it scornfully, to make his point. When speechifying started, drama and comedy went out of the window. Between the prologue and the final appearance of the lion – now called Tommy, like the cat in Dick Whittington: it was just another skin part – the play sagged like a giant blancmange. Judicious cuts were required.

“A Wanted Man” Lee Child

“There’s no money in any bank. Not in yours, not in mine. Not really, apart from a few bucks in a drawer. Most money is purely theoretical. It’s all in computers, backed by trust and confidence. Sometimes they have gold in a vault downstairs, to make themselves look serious. You know, to suggest capital reserves, like in the Fed in New York, or Fort Knox.”

“Tell me how you talk for a minute without using the letter A.”
Delfuenso said, “You were asleep.”
McQueen said, “I haven’t slept for seven months.”
Reacher said, “Easy. Just start counting. One, two, three, four, five, six. You don’t hit a letter A until you get to a hundred and one. You can even do it real fast and still get nowhere near ninety-nine inside a minute.”

“Duplicity” Ingrid Thoft

“The Burning Room” Michael Connelly

“The Family Fang” Kevin Wilson

“Bad Monkey” Carl Hiaasen

“61 Hours” Lee Child

“Heat Lightning” John Sanford

“Midnight Sun” Jo Nesbø

“An Object of Beauty” Steve Martin

“Broken Harbor” Tana French

“Red Mars” Kim Stanley Robinson

“The only part of an argument that really matters is what we think of the people arguing. X claims a, Y claims b. They make arguments to support their claims, with any number of points. But when their listeners remember the discussion, what matters is simply that X believes a and Y believes b. People then form their judgement on what they think of X and Y.”
“But we’re scientists! We’re trained to weigh the evidence.”
John nodded, “True. In fact, since I like you, I concede the point.”

The weakness of businessmen was their belief that money was the point of the game; they worked 14-hour days in order to earn enough of it to buy cars with leather interiors, they thought it was a sensible recreation to play around with it in casinos–idiots, in short.

He withdrew and listened again, profoundly angry at himself. It was a mistake to speak one’s mind at any time, unless it perfectly matched your political purpose; and it never did. Best to strip all statements of real content, this was a basic law of diplomacy. Out on the escarpment he had forgotten that.

“The brain is a funny animal,” he murmured.
She cocked her head, looked curiously at him. Suddenly he was afraid; they were their pasts, they had to be or they were nothing at all, and whatever they felt or thought or said in the present was nothing more than an echo of the past; and so when they said what they said, how could they know what their deeper minds were really feeling, thinking, saying? They didn’t know, not really. Relationships were for that reason utterly mysterious, they took place between two subconscious minds, and whatever the surface trickle thought was going on could not be trusted to be right. Did that Maya down at the deepest level know or not know, remember, forget, swear vengeance or forgive? There was no way of telling. he could never be sure. It was impossible.

“The Closers” Michael Connelly

“Slow Horses” Mick Herron

“Loyalty” Ingrid Thoft

“The Gods of Guilt” Michael Connelly

“Others of My Kind” James Sallis

“Life Class” Pat Barker

“The Dogs of Riga” Henning Mankell

“What I Loved” Siri Hustvedt

“Fool Me Once” Harlan Coben

“Testimony” Robbie Robertson

“The Return” Michael Gruber

He removed the newspaper clipping about the murders. It had been torn roughly out of the pages of Panorama del Puerta, the newspaper in Lazaro Cardenas; on it his wife had written lines from a poem by Octavio Paz on the occasion of the famous massacre of students in 1968. He translated it silently:

Guilt is anger
turned against itself:
if an entire nation is ashamed
it is a lion poised
to leap.

The priest was talking about the prodigal son. He said most people identify with the bad son, the runaway, because it’s easy. You do bad, you get forgiven. But most people aren’t like the bad son–they’re like the good son. They want to know how come the wicked prosper, how come they get to eat the fatted calf. They’re full of resentments against the father and full of envy, and their danger is much subtler, because the bad son knows he’s bad and seeks forgiveness, but the good son thinks he’s good and doesn’t, and so the devil gets him.
Statch was attentive to the homily, although its message went in one ear and out the other, because she did not believe in any morality beyond you-can-do-what-you-want-as-long-as-you-don’t-hurt-anyone.

Again that almost smile. Charming! She said, “Fine. Well, when the Second World War broke out, the Japanese cut off your supplies of opium from the Far East. The American government prevailed on Mexico to establish vast plantations of poppies to supply the morphine needed in the war. After the war there was no need for the Mexican opium, and all the farmers in Sinaloa and Michoacan would have been ruined had they not begun to grow for the illegal trade. And, naturally, as in all of Mexico, what is illegal is a source of profit and political deals. The eternally ruling party, the PRI, came to an understanding with the drug lords. The caciques of the party each had his relationship with the local mafias. Things barreled along very well until your government (America) became shocked by the flow of heroin to the United States and put pressure on the Mexican government to suppress the opium farmers, so all the fields were sprayed, using equipment generously supplied by the gringos. The peasants were ruined, but the gangs went on to other things, importing and transshipping cocaine and meth and, of course, tons and tons of marijuana. Now, at around that time, El Norte became displeased with the state of Mexican democracy. A one-party system? It assaulted the fine sensibilities of Washington. Other parties were encouraged, secretly or not, and so the PRI state collapsed and now we have in half the country a regime, or series of regimes, based on murder, extortion, and kidnap, funded by money from the United States and armed with automatic weapons courtesy of your constitutional right to bear arms. That’s what my book is about, Mr. Marder.”

“Started Early, Took My Dog” Kate Atkinson

“The Lazarus Project” Aleksandar Hemon

One morning in Chicago I had tiptoed to the kitchen with the intention of making some coffee. While customarily spilling coffee grounds all over the counter, I spotted a can in the corner whose red label read SADNESS. Was there so much of it that they could can it and sell it? A bolt of pain went through my intestines before I realized that it was not SADNESS but SARDINES. It was too late for recovery, for sadness was now the dark matter in the universe of still objects around me: the salt and pepper shakers; the honey jar; the bag of sun-dried tomatoes; the blunt knife; a desiccated loaf of bread; the two coffee cups, waiting. My country’s main exports are stolen cars and sadness.

Mujo wakes up one day, after a long night of drinking, and asks himself what the meaning of life is. He goes to work, but realizes that is not what life is or should be. He decides to read some philosophy and for years studies everything from the old Greeks onward, but can’t find the meaning of life. Maybe it’s the family, he thinks, so he spends time with his wife, Fata, and the kids, but finds no meaning in that so he leaves them. He thinks, maybe helping others is the meaning of life, so he goes to medical school, graduates with flying colors, goes to Africa to cure malaria and transplant hearts, but cannot discover the meaning of life. He thinks, maybe it’s the wealth, so he becomes a businessman, starts making money hand over fist, millions of dollars, buys everything there is to buy, but that is not what life is about. Then he turns to poverty and humility and such, so he gives everything away and begs on the streets, but still he cannot see what life is. He thinks maybe it is literature: he writes novel upon novel, but the more he writes the more obscure the meaning of life becomes. He turns to God, lives the life of a dervish, reads and contemplates the Holy Book of Islam–still, nothing. He studies Christianity, then Judaism, then Buddhism, then everything else–no meaning of life there. Finally he hears about a guru living high up in the mountains somewhere in the East. The guru, they say, knows what the meaning of life is. So Mujo goes east, travels for years, walks the roads, climbs the mountains, finds the stairs that lead up to the guru. He ascends the stairs, tens of thousands of them, nearly dies getting up there. At the top, there are millions of pilgrims, he has to wait for months to get to the guru. Eventually it is his turn, he goes to a place under a big tree, and there sits the naked guru, his legs crossed, his eyes closed, meditating, perfectly peaceful–he surely knows the meaning of life. Mujo says: I have dedicated my life to discovering the meaning of life and I have failed, so I have come to ask you humbly, O Master, to divulge the secret to me. The guru opens his eyes, looks at Moju and calmly says, My Friend, life is a river. Mujo stares at him for a long time, cannot believe what he heard. What’s life again? Mujo asks. Life is a river, the guru says. Mujo nods and says, You turd of turds, you goddamn stupid piece of shit, you motherfucking, cocksucking asshole. I have wasted my life and come all this way for you to tell me that life is a fucking river. A river? Are you kidding me? That is the stupidest, emptiest fucking thing I have ever heard. Is that what you spent your life figuring out? And the guru says, what? It is not a river? Are you saying it is not a river?

I often caught myself hating his retired-businessman gray hair, his popishness, his insistence on my gratefulness to American greatness, and his constant, stupid questions about my country, questions like; “Do they have opera in your country?” or “Your country if west of what?” My country was this remote, mythical place for him, a remnant of the world from before America, a land of obsolescence whose people would arrive at humanity only in the United States, and belatedly. He feigned concern for the heartening immigrant experiences related in my columns, largely because he wanted to assess how long my journey had been from being a half-ghost in my country to being an attempt at an American, the unfortunate husband of his unlucky daughter. I occasionally amused Mary with mock answers to George’s imaginary questions. “In my country,” I’d say, she giggling already, “candy is the chief currency.” Or: “Airflow is illegal in my country.”

“The Way Home” George Pelecanos

“The Music Lesson” Katharine Weber

I hope I live long enough to make my peace with a world full of people who look but do not see, who listen but do not hear.