Archive for the Prose Category


Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

Dundun (an excerpt from the short story from the collection Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson)

Dundun tortured Jack Hotel at the lake outside of Denver. He did this to get information about a stolen item, a stereo belonging to Dundun’s girlfriend, or perhaps to his sister. Later, Dundun beat a man almost to death with a tire iron right on the street in Austin, Texas, for which he’ll also someday have to answer, but now he is, I think, in the state prison in Colorado.

Will you believe me when I tell you there was kindness in his heart? His left hand didn’t know what his right hand was doing. It was only that certain important connections had been burned through. If I opened up your head and ran a hot soldering iron around in your brain, I might turn you into someone like that.


Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

How To Be Alone (an excerpt from the book of essays by Jonathan Franzen)

I mourn the eclipse of the cultural authority that literature once posessed, and I rue the onset of an age so anxious that the pleasure of a text becomes difficult to sustain. I don’t suppose that many other people will give away their TVs. I’m not sure I’ll last long myself without buying a new one. But the first lesson reading teaches us is how to be alone.


Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

Education (an excerpt from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig)

[His] argument for the abolition of the degree and grading system produced a nonplussed or negative reaction in all but a few students at first, since it seemed, on first judgment, to destroy the whole University system. One student laid it wide open when she said with complete candor, “Of course you can’t eliminate the degree and grading system. After all, that’s what we’re here for.”

She spoke the complete truth. The idea that the majority of students attend a university for an education independent of the degree and grades is a little hypocrisy everyone is happier not to expose. Occasionally some students do arrive for an education but rote and the mechanical nature of the institution soon converts them to a less idealistic attitude.


Posted in Prose, Quotes with tags , , , on May 9, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

Death (a quote by Georges Bataille)

We are attempting to communicate, but no communication between us can abolish our fundamental difference.

If you die, it is not my death . . . .


Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

A Single Overwound String (an excerpt from the novel The Fuck-Up by Arthur Nersesian)

As the components of your life are stripped away, after all the ambitions and hopes vaporize, you reach a self-reflective starkness-the repetitious plucking of a single overwound string. I was too poor to even have an etherizing vice like drugs or alcohol. Slowly I became a Peeping Tom of finer days, a vicarious liver through my own past.

Years ago, forecasting the quality of my life to come was a cinch. By five years’ time–which would have been five years ago–I would’ve graduated with a degree in architecture, and with a guaranteed job in my father’s growing real estate development firm. In sum, I’d be kept in clover. Envisioning my future was like watching a lucky contestant on a game show, whose winnings increased with each spin of the wheel.


Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , on May 2, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

The Stream (an excerpt from Winnie the Pooh, a creation of A. A. Milne)

By the time it came to the edge of the  Forest  the  stream
had  grown  up,  so  that  it  was  almost  a river, and, being
grown-up, it did not run and jump and sparkle along as it  used
to  do  when it was younger, but moved more slowly. For it knew
now where it was going, and it said to  itself,  “There  is  no
hurry. We shall get there some day.”


Posted in Poetry, Prose, Quotes with tags , , , , , , on April 27, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

Letters To a Young Poet (an excerpt from the collected letters of Rainer Wilke)

You ask whether your verses are good. You ask me. You have asked others before. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are disturbed when certain editors reject your efforts. Now (since you have allowed me to advise you) I beg you to give up all that. You are looking outward, and that above all you should not do now. Nobody can counsel and help you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spread out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write. This above all–ask yourself in the stillest hour of the night: must I write?