At the New York Times Magazine, I wonder whether Tom Stoppard sided with Graham Greene or Anthony Burgess in adapting Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End. And why we in the U.S. have to wait so long to find out.
Putting together my first package for Quarterly Co. feels a lot like assembling the cards and songs and books and other objects I used to send friends and boys in college, except with 100% fewer stickers: Here’s this thing I’ve been reading! Here’s this other, related thing! Here’s a long, gushy letter telling you all the reasons I am sending them to you — and oh, yeah, here’s this other thing that suddenly seemed so important and connected, I had to unseal the package and shove it in there, too. There are even post-it notes.
Jason Kottke described Quarterly — “a subscription service for wonderful things” — as a cross between a store and a magazine. Sasha Frere-Jones called it the future, but with a post office. The Wall Street Journal journal explains how it works, and makes me wish I had a 3D skull of my own design to include.
My shipments, which Quarterly sends out at $25 each, will be all about storytelling. Here’s how I described my focus for the site.
As a child I lived in novels as much as I did in the world, stumbling around hunched and dreamy, tearing through my alloted seven library books and then begging my mother to take me to check out more. Nowadays the challenge isn’t getting my hands on books, it’s finding stories that excite me, as a reader, writer, and critic.
My passion for unusual, well-told stories sends me foraging not just through bookstores — though I do spend a ridiculous amount of time circling the staff recommendations tables at McNally Jackson — but all kinds of media: TV, movies, magazines, blogs, apps, whatever. I still love books best of all, but it took me a while to know that for sure after devouring The Wire.
My Quarterly objects will be books and other great stories that I hope will make you cancel plans or miss your stop or ignore the doorbell. Sometimes they’ll be juicy and suspenseful; other times they’ll be weirder, less about sinking into a story than thinking about the way we tell them. Occasionally they’ll be both, so you can experience them, and ponder them, and then experience them again.
If you’re interested in signing up, I’m told the window for the first shipment closes this Thursday, the 16th.
“No matter which sex I went to bed with, I never smoked on the street.” — Florence King, Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady, one of several books I’m reading, this one suggested by the fabulous Joan Schenkar.
“Benedict Cumberbatch, who stars in Parade’s End as Christopher Tietjens, the last of the old Tories, dismisses Downton as [a period soap opera].”