Ngaio Marsh on Sophomores

Remington Portable Typewriter

The cub, as Hambledon had called Gordon Palmer, was seventeen years old, dreadfully sophisticated, and entirely ignorant of everything outside the sphere of his sophistication.— Ngaio Marsh, Vintage MurderThe cub in question is an insufferable young upperclass lout out on a world tour in the mid-1930's. It's the unknown unknowns that get you at that age.____ photo credit: Remington Portable via photopin (license) … [Read more...]

The Saint’s Girl on Cocktail Parties


The cocktail party ploughed on through a syrupy flood of mixed alcohols, mechanical compliments, second-hand scandal, vapid criticism, lisps, beards, adolescent philosophy, and personal pronouns.— Leslie Charteris, The Saint and Mr. TealIt's the "personal pronouns" that get me._____ photo credit: Underwood Universal, c.1957 via photopin (license) … [Read more...]

Leslie Charteris on What the Well Dressed Man is Wearing

Typewriter mechanism

Golter’s head snapped round as though it had been jerked by an invisible wire. He had heard nothing of the arrival of the man who now stood over him, whose gentle, drawling voice had broken into his meditations far more shatteringly than any explosion could have done. He saw a tall, trim, lean figure in a grey fresco suit of incredible perfection, with a soft grey felt hat whose wide brim shaded pleasant blue eyes. This man might have posed for any illustration of the latest and smartest effort o … [Read more...]

Archie Goodwin on Eye Strain

Maria went, back inside, and shut the door. It was just as well, since it’s a strain to keep your eyes where they ought to be when they want to be somewhere else.— Rex Stout, Too Many Clients … [Read more...]

Leo Marks on Deciphering Mangled Codes

‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’ caused forty-eight hours of purgatory when an F-section agent spelt hell with three ‘l’s.— Leo Marks, Between Silk and Cyanide: A Code Maker's War 1941-45From an outstanding book I'll be reviewing next week. … [Read more...]

Aaron Lansky on Being like Moses


We are who we are, where we are, when we are. And in that sense I prefer to compare us not to Chone Shmeruk, a twentieth-century Yiddish scholar, but to Zushya, a nineteenth-century Hasidic rabbi. “When I die,” Zushya foretold, “God will not ask me, ‘Zushya, why weren’t you more like Moses?’ God will ask, ‘Zushya, why were you not more like Zushya?’”— Aaron Lansky, Outwitting HistoryI like this. The Christian life isn't about becoming more like this or that particular saint; the Christia … [Read more...]

Fr. Ronald Knox on Sheepdogs and the Clergy

A sheep dog enjoying his job.

The shepherd doesn’t run after the sheep when they get straying; he shouts to his dog, and the dog runs after them, barking at them in a very rude way. When you see a sheep dog doing that, it ought to remind you of my sermons; you should think of the clergy yapping at you and saying, “You ought to do this,” and “You mustn’t do that”; they do it because they are acting under the Shepherd’s orders. I don’t say the clergy don’t sometimes enjoy it; but then, I dare say the sheep dog enjoys it.— F … [Read more...]

Harry Dresden on Elevators

My office is in a building in midtown Chicago. It’s an older building, and not in the best of shape, especially since there was that problem with the elevator last year. I don’t care what anyone says, that wasn’t my fault. When a giant scorpion the size of an Irish wolfhound is tearing its way through the roof of your elevator car, you get real willing to take desperate measures.— Jim Butcher, Grave Peril … [Read more...]

Paarfi of Roundwood: On Brevity


Paarfi of Roundwood is the supposed author of Steven Brust's "Khaavren" romances, which begin with that most excellent tale The Phoenix Guards. Paarfi, a Hawklord of the Dragaeran Empire, is a scholar and historian who has learned (evidently through first-hand experience) that the rewards of scholarship are great but unsustaining, while the rewards of writing popular trash for the consumption and amusement of the masses put dinner on the table. The Phoenix Guards is one such amusement, a tale … [Read more...]