Never be afraid to get dirty, but be sufficiently sure-footed to avoid the abyss of contamination.

The Unnamed

How do we know if a story is good? Read a lot of books. At least that was the advice of one of my high school English teachers.

By the time I got to page 10 of Joshua Ferris’s latest novel, I couldn’t help but think I was starting the greatest story I had read that year. By the time I was at page 70, it was probably the best story I had read since college. It didn’t take many more pages to recognize I was reading something that I needed to compare against Kafka’s The Trial and Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.

I finally convinced someone to read it. Well, it was the first person I asked, and we spent part of an afternoon walking and talking about it last Sunday. Then the rains started (rain in the summer?), and we walked ourselves back indoors.


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