w. w. norton & company

The longer I live the more I mistrust
theatricality, the false glamour cast
by performance, the more I know its poverty beside
the truths we are salvaging from
the splitting-open of our lives.
The woman who sits watching, listening,
eyes moving in the darkness
is rehearsing in her body, hearing-out in her blood
a score touched off in her perhaps
by some words, a few chords, from the stage:
a tale only she can tell.
—  Adrienne Rich, from “Transcendental Etude” (For Michelle Cliff), The Dream of a Common Language (W.W. Norton & Company, 1978; reissue 1993)
What happened, happened once. So now it’s best
in memory— […] Love’s
merciless, the way it travels in
and keeps emitting light. Beside the stove
we ate an orange. And there were purple flowers
on the table. And we still had hours.
—  Kim Addonizio, from “Stolen Moments,” What Is This Thing Called Love: Poems (W. W. Norton & Company, 2005)                          

                   But it’s again a year of water,
and in a house always brilliant with lights
I’m saying to a stranger what I should

have said to you: “I have no house only
a shadow but whenever you are in need
of a shadow my shadow is yours.”

Agha Shahid Ali, from section 6 of “In Search of Evanescence,” A Nostalgist’s Map of America: Poems (W. W. Norton & Company, 2013)

Patricia Highsmith was born on January 19th, 1921. Above is a repost of the composite for Tom Ripley, from her novel The Talented Mr. Ripley.

[Ripley] combed his light-brown hair neatly in front of the mirror, and set off for Radio City. He had always thought he had the world’s dullest face, a thoroughly forgettable face with a look of docility that he could not understand, and a look also of vague fright that he had never been able to erase. A real conformist’s face, he thought…Really it was only his darker hair that was very different from Dickie.

Otherwise, his nose—or at least its general form—his narrow jaw, his eyebrows if he held them right.  He wasn’t really worried. Tom had at first amused himself with an eyebrow pencil–Dickie’s eyebrows were longer and turned up a little at the outer edges–and with a touch of putty at the end of his nose to make it longer and more pointed, but he abandoned these as too likely to be noticed. The main thing about impersonation, Tom thought, was to maintain the mood and temperament of the person one was impersonating, and to assume the facial expressions that went with them. The rest fell into place…He might play up Tom a little more, he thought.

He could stoop a little more, he could be shyer than ever, he could even wear horn-rimmed glasses and hold his mouth in an even sadder, droopier manner to contrast with Dickie’s tenseness. 


“The youth of America is their oldest tradition. It has been going on now for three hundred years.” – Oscar Wilde, on the US of A. This, and much else amusing may be found in the wonderful new book from W. W. Norton and Co., Wilde in America: Oscar Wilde and the Invention of Modern Celebrity, by David M. Friedman.

A Clockwork Orange. Anthony Burgess. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1963. First American edition. Original dust jacket.

“If he can only perform good or only perform evil, then he is a clockwork orange—meaning that he has the appearance of an organism lovely with colour and juice but is in fact only a clockwork toy to be wound up by God or the Devil.”