The Good at Heart coverOne

The day the German army opened fire on its own citizens in Blumental was the day of Pimpanella’s miracle. It was a cool summer morning, with the first promise of sun after four drizzly, cold days. Rosie woke early, hopped out of bed, and ran downstairs. Ever since she turned five, she had been allowed to check for eggs in the henhouse. She loved crawling into the small plywood hutch that housed the four chickens, reaching into each nest, and gently wiggling her fingers between the straw and the burlap, feeling around for that small, smooth oval, still warm from being under the hen’s puffed chest, the shell slightly soft.

Rosie also loved the hens, Pimpanella especially. Spindly little Pimpanella was the closest thing Rosie had to a pet; she was the only chicken who did not peck at Rosie’s feet in the outhouse. And Rosie protected Pimpanella against her grandfather. The last time Opa was home from Berlin, he declared Pimpanella useless because she had never been able to produce an egg. “A poor excuse for a fowl,” he called her. He chased Pimpanella around the yard with a stewpot lid, yelling at her to pull herself together and do her part for the war effort.

0SAM FINSTER

 “Hey hey, guys,” Mr. Whitlock crowed, and motioned Sam and Trina inside the house with the spatula he held in one fist. Toad’s uncle was a big man with a handlebar mustache and any number of blurred and explicit green tattoos lacing his arms. They looked like they’d been drawn there by a child, quite possibly a drunken one, and Toad had long ago informed him it meant his uncle had done various stretches of county time. “Back before I came into the picture,” Toad said. Mr. Whitlock had, over the years, insisted that Sam call him by his first name, Stacy, but somehow Sam just couldn’t do it. He looked fearsome, even more so than Sam’s dad, and like a man who brooked absolutely no shit. But a Stacy? No.

132. Davis, California

Back on the greenbelt, this time with Fenton the dog and Liam, big brother showing little brother the ropes. If you have spent every day of your life, as Liam has, on a ranch in Colorado, the tiniest things can impress you. Streetlights, water sprinklers, fire trucks, bicycles, roller blades. Everywhere he looks, so many people, each one of them the keeper of a potential pet.

1.

What is it like to lose everything? Younis was first asked this question by a well-meaning development worker, a friendly young man whose specialty was working in war zones. They sat across from each other in cheap plastic chairs beside a bomb-scarred house that served temporarily as a hospital. Just for a chat, he had been told. Just to see if he needed help, to see if he could be helped.

“It must be so difficult,” said the man, whose face was serene, “to wake up one morning and see that life as you knew it has ended, that so much has been destroyed.”

Despite his youth, Younis sensed immediately that the man was trying to get him to do something dangerous. His first instinct was to play it off, to make a grim joke of it—the house was getting old anyway; destruction as a form of camouflage; at least now we don’t have to maintain the roof—anything to deflect the course of the inquiry.

30 Days

I threw the tea pot out the window.

It plummeted three floors and shattered into a hundred white porcelain pieces right behind Mrs. Epstein, whom I had never much liked anyway.

“Hey!” she yelled up at me.

“Sorry,” I said, hanging half my upper body over the sill. Then I turned back inside, grabbed half a dozen tea cups and dumped those out, too.

I wasn’t that sorry.

You have gone on record saying you’re a big fan of television. That’s odd for a writer, no? Shouldn’t you be reading?

My childhood was not idyllic and while I very much found solace and escape in books, I also found it in television.  I try to read before bed every night. But television, yes, I do watch it.

 

The Pornographers Sneak Peek

Chuck Klosterman’s latest book is The Visible Man. It is told from the point of view of a therapist who is treating a man referred to only as Y___.  Y___ has the ability to make himself unseen by wearing an invisibility cloak. He likes to observe the boring lives of others, sometimes for hours, or even days.  He is obsessed with how others behave in private and visits the therapist to deal with his guilt issues over this quirky and intrusive hobby.

Klosterman has written seven books and is probably best known for the essay collection Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs.  The Visible Man is his second novel.

We sat at a small table in the back of Aub Zam Zam, a bar on Haight Street in San Francisco, for about an hour, shortly before he was scheduled to read at Booksmith across the street.

Chapter I

 

Part of my job is to read your face, and I think I know what your face says now. You are wondering something about me. Do I guess right? You wonder if I am like all Thai people. You wonder what bad things happen in my life. You wonder if I sell heroin, smoke opium—what it’s like to be me. And you wonder what I think about you, right? Sure. There’s no movie theater here. One video plays, but I think you see that one already, maybe in Bangkok, maybe in Chiang Mai, maybe in your home. That one plays everywhere. It’s making you feel bored. You have time to imagine. So please. Stay. I will tell you, no problem. Opium? Heroin? I’m sorry, no. But I can tell you about the bad thing. Something about danger. Something about love. That’s what you want, right? Okay. If you stay, I can tell you some story about me.