After reading lots of Lydia Davis


I’m snacking and I find myself thinking: A pistachio is a bad parable. The ones that are easiest to open are also the tastiest. And the ones that are very difficult to open are generally not fit for eating. Maybe the pistachio is a good parable, for this very reason. Or maybe for another reason. Because it gives the wrong advice, and wrong is right?

This also is not a good parable.


I try to think like a shepherd, not like a sheep. That’s my way, you see. They try to convince you that times are extremely bad, worse than they are, so that later they can say, look what we did! We fixed it all! That’s their M.O. I don’t fall for that kind of thing. If I had the money I would be trying to buy my children apartments right now. But I don’t have the money. You see: Usually interest rates go down and prices go up, or prices go down but rates go up. Now rates and prices are both down. It’s a key time.

After reading Peter Altenberg


For a time, when he was trying to lose weight, he would eat nothing each day except for Twinkies. His oldest brother was a famous heart surgeon, and had performed the first pig heart transplant. His other brother was a physicist who designed the heat shield for the space shuttle. Frank was the youngest and the heaviest. For a while he was selling shoes but he was no good at it. Eventually he went into his family’s real estate business, under his brother-in-law’s direction, his brother-in-law having been made head of the firm. He had few responsibilities and was looked after financially. I have never heard a story of anyone in the family who didn’t like Frank. Frank married and had three kids. He hurt no one’s feelings. Then shortly after his sixty-first birthday, he took out an ad in the local newspaper saying that women with large breasts should contact him. A few days later, he flew off in his single-engine plane without sending word of where he was; reports came of him running naked along beaches. He mailed out very expensive gifts to all sorts of people he knew and barely knew. A crystal duck. A pink angora sweater. Within two weeks, his brother, the heat-shield-inventing one, tracked him down. Frank had lost some weight. Bloods were drawn, scans taken, the irregular habits of thyroids considered, the gyri of the brain marveled at in all their ordinariness; the doctors could find nothing wrong with Frank, and sent him home.

Frank apologized, lots. He returned to his life as it was before. Five months later, with no forewarning, he dropped dead in the line of a Piccadilly’s cafeteria. It was clear, my mom always said to me, that those two weeks were the best two weeks of Frank’s life.