“The year I turned ninety, I wanted to give myself the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin.” Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Memories of My Melancholy Whores.

“I am by trade and calling an Americanist, and I believe, contrary to much current academic opinion, that America is a special case in the development of the West.” Ann Douglas, Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s.

“Mr. Jones, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night, but was too drunk to remember to shut the popholes.” George Orwell, Animal Farm.

“When Charles Lodwick observed in 1692 that New York City was ‘too great a mixture of nations and English the least part,’ he was articulating the sentiments of not only an influential group of contemporaries but scores of later commentators who believed that ethnic diversity threatened the social fabric.” Joyce D. Goodfriend, Before the Melting Pot: Society and Culture in Colonial New York City, 1664-1730.

“History has failed us, but no matter.” Min Jin Lee, Pachinko.

“I don’t usually name my trucks but this one I call Mona, after the sound she makes when I push her toward her top speed.” Robin Nagle, Picking Up: On the Street and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City.

“The gravel pit was about a mile east of town, and the size of a small lake, and so deep that boys under sixteen were forbidden by their parents to swim there.” William Maxwell, So Long, See You Tomorrow.

“It was Super Bowl Sunday, the only day of the year my mother served dinner in front of the television set.” Michael J. Agovino, The Bookmaker: A Memoir of Money, Luck, and Family from the Utopian Outskirts of New York City.

“Look, unless you’re writing one, a self-help book is an oxymoron.” Mohsin Hamid, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia.

“A.R. bet he was going to die.” David Pietrusza, Rothstein: The Life, Times, and Murder of the Criminal Genius Who Fixed the 1919 World Series.

“There’s likely some polished way of starting a story like this, a clear bit of gaming that’d sucker people in surer than the best banco feeler in town.”  Caleb Carr, The Angel of Darkness.

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