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from Long Talking Bad Conditions Blues

Ronald Sukenick

‘when rising expectations hit the upcoming decline hell was going to break loose it was already starting to break loose’

from Son of the Morning

Joyce Carol Oates

‘The livingness of the rifle and the bullet and the death spasm and his own bright quickening blood: never would he forget.’

from The Franchiser

Stanley Elkin

‘In sickness he understood what he never had in health, that his body, anyone’s, everyone’s, was something for the public record.’

Requa-I

Tillie Olsen

‘Night scratched at the window and seeped from the room corners. No other sound but rising river wind.’

A Battle

Patrick Süskind

‘Early one August evening, when most people had already left the park, two men sat confronting one another across a chessboard.’

A Beheading

Mohsin Hamid

‘The words are just dribbling out of my mouth. I can’t stop them. They’re like tears.’

A Brief History of Fire

Jennifer Vanderbes

‘My happiness was so deep I was afraid to speak of it.’

A Child’s Book of Death and Dying

Abraham Verghese

‘A fine morning mist had rolled down over Addis Ababa from the Entoto mountains, leaving a sheen on the lawn between the apartment buildings'.

A Clean Marriage

Sayaka Murata

‘Frequency of sex since marriage: zero.’ Sayaka Murata on a sexless marriage and the ‘Clean Breeder’ technique for pleasureless reproduction.

A Conversation Piece

George Steiner

‘No. Listen to me. God's confidence in Abraham was not total. Let me hammer out my meaning.’

A Conversation with the Head of Orpheus

Russell Hoban

‘Far, far away in the night are live human beings whose breathing can be heard as they speak, and they're looking at their illuminated dials as I look at mine at this end of the darkness that curves with the night miles to the heave and swell of the ocean dawn.’

A Day in the Life in El Salvador

Manlio Argueta

‘I have not failed you, José. I understand that you were saying goodbye when you opened your eye, and that, besides greeting me, you were expressing your pride in me, seeing me standing with my arm around the shoulders of your granddaughter.’

A Discourse on the Elephant

Richard Rayner

‘This is not the story of my life, at least not the story of all of it, but it is the story of my father.’