"For a long time I have hesitated to write a book about women, is how de Beauvoir starts one of the most famous books on women ever written. The subject is irritating, especially to women; and it is not new. Sometimes I feel like I'm beating a dead wound. But I say: keep bleeding. Just write toward something beyond blood."

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison

"People gambled and golfed and planted gardens and traded stocks and had sex and bought new cars and practiced yoga and worked and prayed and redecorated their homes and gossiped about their neighbors and pored over restaurant reviews and founded charitable organizations and supported political candidates and attended the U.S. Open and dined and travelled and distracted themselves with all kinds of gadgets and devices...But in a strong light there was no good spin you could put on it. It was rotten top to bottom."

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

"Can language describe art? Or is it limited? What are we looking for in the shapes of a non-figurative artist? Savard extracts Rilke’s expressions used to describe the colours of Cézanne’s paintings and creates her own palette of expressions/colours."

Les Couleurs de Cézanne dans les mots de Rilke by Francine Savard

Whoever is selecting the cover art for Ferrante's novels should be summarily dismissed. The covers look like cheap, mass market trade paperbacks of the chick lit genre, the kind that make Costco the world's biggest bookseller (depressing), but inside is the most well-plotted dirty realism being written today, and the added thrill is the stories are all set in the gangster-normalized city of Naples, giving them an exotic, travel-read feel for those of us in the West. None of the English-language reviews I've read mention how skilled Ferrante is at plotting: they all focus on her incredibly layered treatment of female friendship, the quality of her psychological insights, the beauty of her language. Which are all there and all valid and essential, of course, but what binds these aesthetic concerns together with an inalterable power is the constant zigzag of the characters' fortunes. Deft storytelling, in the ancient sense. Lovers cheat in spectacularly flagrant ways, friends get shot on church steps, small children disappear, riches turn to rags, beauties turn fat and bitter, underdogs become millionaires through their own blistering effort. I read late into the night because I had to know what would happen next with Nino; I often felt deliciously shocked by Ferrante's mastery of upsetting my expectations. Long passages of dense exposition often end with tantalizing cliffhangers: and then so-and-so was taken by the police to jail. And the reader is delighted, frustrated-delighted, at not having seen it coming.    

The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante

"As I shall probably be here for the rest of my life (which won't last long at this rate), I have had my room cleaned out. I must describe it, and indeed the whole hotel. Downstairs three large rooms with glass fronts give on to the street. The first is the kitchen, indicated by a pool of blood and a decapitated cock's head on the pavement."

Picador Travel Classics: The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron

 “...through art and art only that we can shield ourselves from the sordid perils of actual existence.

The Critic as Artist (1891) by Oscar Wilde

You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.This city will always pursue you.

"The City" from C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems.

"But Schlomo continued as he'd begun: 'When you go to a place where you might die that's one thing, but when you go to a place where other people are liable to die and you just stand there and watch them, that's something quite different. At least, that's what I think.' 'You're another one!' shouted Yehuda. 'Stop thinking so much.'"

Khirbet Khizeh by S. Yizhar (1949)

"...a body of work that is as astute as it is elegiac in its contemplation of the quotidian, offering an experience of the flux of time that is as elating in its duration as it is haunting for its sense of passing. It offers repose within the realm of the moving image at a time when images proliferate across hand-held devices, within a multitude of digital interfaces, and not least of all, in the liquidity of visual messaging across architectural and advertising screens that capitalize the city’s urban core."

Mark Lewis at the Power Plant (to January 3)

"There was no impulse I distrusted or admired more than that of exile. Distrust because of exile's narcissism, its modal insistence that, above all, location forged the content of one's conscience. Admired because of exile's bravery, its intransigence, the embrace hidden in its denunciation."

Chasing the Sea: Lost Among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia by Tom Bissell