“I am Misha Borisovich Vainberg, age thirty, a grossly overweight man with small, deeply set blue eyes, a pretty Jewish beak that brings to mind the most distinguished breed of parrot, and lips so delicate you would want to wipe them with the naked back of your hand.” Gary Shteyngart, Absurdistan.

“By all rights, Times Square should have been called Oscar Hammerstein Square.” Anthony Bianco, Ghosts of 42nd Street: A History of America’s Most Infamous Block.

“The city had converted an elevated length of abandoned railway spur into an aerial greenway and the agent and I were walking south along it in the unseasonable warmth after an outrageously expensive celebratory meal in Chelsea that included baby octopuses the chef had literally massaged to death.” Ben Lerner, 10:04.

“That God created mankind, male and female, in his own image is a matter of faith.” Jack Miles God: A Biography.

“The accused, Kabuo Miyamoto, sat proudly upright with rigid grace, his palms placed softly on the defendant’s table—the posture of a man who has detached himself insofar as that is possible at his own trial.” David Guterson, Snow Falling on Cedars.

“The Civil War started in darkness.” John Strausbaugh, City of Sedition: The History of New York City During the Civil War.

“I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meaney.” John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meaney.

“’Oysters! Oysters! Beautiful oysters,” trumpeted a headline in a Batavia, New York, newspaper in 1824.” Carol Sheriff, The Artificial River: The Erie Canal and the Paradox of Progress, 1817-1862.

“We are at rest five miles behind the front.” Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front.

“When Caroline Meeber boarded the afternoon train for Chicago, her total outfit consisted of a small trunk, a cheap alligator-skin satchel, a small lunch in a paper box, and a yellow snap purse, containing her ticket, a scrap of paper with her sister’s address in Van Buren Street, and four dollars in money.” Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie.

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