daily muse

Maeve Brennan on online dating


The best observation on online dating well before there was a thing called online dating. Courtesy of the astute New Yorker Dubliner, Maeve Brennan, 1962, Midtown.

‘As he was fitting her chair in under her, the man said, evidently continuing their conversation, “All right, if you must have a definition, I am a socialist who is interested in lust.” I was fascinated, but he sat down and his voice dropped with him, and I heard nothing more from him until their lunch had been served, and then he said, in a loud voice, as though he were astonished, “The potatoes are very good here.” Another disappointing man, I thought…’


Novels…1st lines.

“Three o’clock in February. All the sky was blue and high. Banners and bunting and people bunched up between. Greetings and sadness.”

“I was lost, it was already dusk, I had been driving for hours and was practically out of petrol.”

“Some places are too evil to be allowed to exist.”

“Above all, the darkness of the river was what impressed Dr. Sanders as he looked out for the first time across the open mouth of the Matarre estuary.”

“Music school? Are you kidding? I learned to play the sax in Pontiac Reformatory.”

“When Frieda Schwartz heard from her Shmuel that he was (a) marrying a black girl, the blood soughed and staggered in all her conduits as she pictured the chiaroscuro of the white-satin chuppa and the shvartze’s skin; when he told her that he was (b) dropping out of school and would therefore never become a certified public accountant – ‘Riboyne Shel O’lem!’ – she let out a great geshrei and dropped dead of a racist/my-son-the-bum coronary.”

“There is no warning of daylight here.”

The Importance of Wearing Hats

Just when you thought the neighborhood had lost all its character, you meet an elderly gentleman wearing a psychedelic Muhammad Ali t-shirt and a captain’s hat. We struck up a conversation about the importance of having many hats, how picking a certain hat helps set the tone and mood for the day. He has 4 fedoras (his favorite from France, bought in Paris, 1957, for $30), six cowboy hats, three captains hats (a white one with gold trim for when he vacations in Long Island), two sombreros, a variety of scally and skull caps, and many, many others. In total 74.

Not sure about the lesson here, but I wish some people shut the fuck up about nonsense, and paid more attention to what hat they’re wearing. It might just make us all a little bit more interesting.

4 examples of hats on jazz legends.

A Writer’s Place – Harry Crews

This passage speaks to me, and it should speak to most writers.

‘When I awoke, I knew that this day was to be worse than the day that preceded it and that I could not hope to get down from where I was, until I was safely home with my books and my typewriter and all the crippled and ruined manuscripts lying about on the desk. I wanted to get back to the place where I had resisted so many things, and failed at so many things, back to the place where even when I succeeded I failed because it was never good enough.’

-Harry Crews, Climbing the Tower



Your Future in Books?


I wouldn’t trust this book. It’s giving the kid some bad advice. Formative minds of the next generation, be careful of illuminated, floating (perhaps, possessed) books telling you that your future will be found inside their pages.

Sheridan Le Fanu – Happy 200th!!!

Joseph+Sheridan+Le+Fanu7Happy 200th Birthday to Sheridan Le Fanu (who in my youthful ignorance, I always thought was French….thankfully, an Irishman dutifully corrected me). Before the tawdry ‘True Blood’ and the bosom-heaving bloodsuckers of Hammer Horror films, there was Le Fanu’s ‘Carmilla’, the first lesbian vampire to grace the Gothic. ‘Green Tea’ is a hallucinatory classic, and paired up with ‘Murders at the Rue Morgue’ one can’t help but look differently at our fellow primates. And you can’t beat ‘Uncle Silas’ for a prime lesson in Gothic fiction.

It’s quite amazing how the duo of Le Fanu and Bram Stoker gave life to the vampire tale. Add in Oscar Wilde, Charles Maturin (of ‘Melmoth the Wanderer’ fame) and short story writer, Fitz James O’Brien, and it’s quite impressive on how the Irish helped set the stones of Horror Literature as we know it today.