Archives for category: Book excerpts


I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light a the end of Daisy’s dock…Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…And one fine morning –” F. SCOTT FITZGERALD, The Great Gatsby (final lines)

Read The Great Gatsby for free! The novel is in the public domain in Australia and is available at Happy reading!

Photo: Thorsten Shier


In the morning it was morning and I was still alive.
Maybe I’ll write a novel, I thought.
And then I did.

Last Lines from Post Office (1971) by CHARLES BUKOWSKI


The good days, the fat days, page upon page of manuscript; prosperous days, something to say…the pages mounted and I was happy. Fabulous days, the rent paid, still fifty dollars in my wallet, nothing to do all day and night but write and think of writing; ah, such sweet days, to see it grow, to worry for it, myself, my book, my words, maybe important, maybe timeless, but mine nevertheless, the indomitable Arturo Bandini, already deep into his first novel. “

From Chapter Sixteen of Ask the Dust a novel by John Fante, originally published in 1939.

Photo: Vintage notecard found on Flickr.


“The lean days of determination. That was the word for it, determination: Arturo Bandini in front of his typewriter two full days in succession, determined to succeed; but it didn’t work, the longest siege of hard and fast determination in his life, and not one line done, only two words written over and over across the page, up and down, the same words: palm tree, palm tree, a battle to the death between the palm tree and me, and the palm tree won: see it out there swaying in the blue air, creaking sweetly in the blue air. The palm tree won after two fighting days, and I crawled out of the window and sat at the foot of the tree. Time passed, a moment or two, and I slept, little brown ants carousing in the hair on my legs.”

From Chapter 1 of Ask the Dust, a novel by JOHN FANTE first published in 1939 and reissued in 1980 by Black Sparrow Press with an introduction by Charles Bukowski. A Harper Perennial Modern Classics edition was released in 2006.


In 1947, Humphrey Bogartand wife Lauren Bacall starred in the film adaptation of David Goodis‘s noir novel DARK PASSAGE (1946). The book also served as inspiration for the television series THE FUGITIVE (1963-1967) starring David Janssen.

David Goodis — who never achieved the status of fellow noir writers Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett — has been called “The Poet Laureate of the Bleak.” He died in 1967 at age 49.


With his work often out of print, the prestigious Library of America decided to solidify Goodis’s place as a top noir stylist by in 2012 issuing GOODIS: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 50s. The Library of America states as its mission “to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping in print, authoritative editions of America’s best and most significant writing.”

Here’s an example of Goodis‘s prose — the opening passage to his 1947 novel NIGHTFALL:

It was one of those hot, sticky nights that makes Manhattan show its age. There was something dreary and stagnant in the way all this syrupy heat refused to budge. It was anything but a night for labor, and Vanning stood up and walked away from the tilted drawing board. He brushed past a large metal box of water colors, heard the crash as the box hit the floor. That seemed to do it. That ended any inclination he might have had for finishing the job tonight.

Heat came into the room and settled itself on Vanning. He lit a cigarette. He told himself it was time for another drink. Walking to the window, he told himself to get away from the idea of liquor. The heat was stronger than the liquor.”

“I had a funny feeling as I saw the house disappear, as though I had written a poem and it was very good and I had lost it and would never remember it again.” RAYMOND CHANDLER, The High Window

Photo: “West Hollywood in the Early Morning Fog” by


Born on March 12, 1922 as Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac at 9 Lupine Road in Lowell, Massachusetts, to French-Canadian parents, Beat novelist Jack Kerouac lived a short, eventful life (he passed away at age 47) — but his books and poetry continue to inspire. His mantra was ecstasy — and he encouraged all of us to find joy everywhere and in everything.

“…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”  JACK KEROUACOn the Road (1957)


“I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all. The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and the dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago and the clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify (by their own lonesome familiarity) to this feeling.”

JACK KEROUAC, The Dharma Bums (1958)

Photo: Jacqueline Kennedy, circa early 1960s, on the presidential plane reading DHARMA BUMS by Jack Kerouac.

Image“Louisiana in September was like an obscene phone call from nature. The air–moist, sultry, secretive, and far from fresh–felt as if it were being exhaled into one’s face. Sometimes it even sounded like heavy breathing. Honeysuckle, swamp flowers, magnolia, and the mystery smell of the river scented the atmosphere, amplifying the intrusion of organic sleaze. It was aphrodisiac and repressive, soft and violent at the same time. In New Orleans, in the French Quarter, miles from the barking lungs of alligators, the air maintained this quality of breath, although here it acquired a tinge of metallic halitosis, due to fumes expelled by tourist buses, trucks delivering Dixie beer, and, on Decatur Street, a mass-transit motor coach named Desire.”  

TOM ROBBINS, Jitterbug Perfume

Find Tom Robbins‘ 1990 novel Jitterbug Perfume at


We used to drive around at night, we didn’t have anything else to do. We didn’t like to be in our apartment…So we drove around in the dark. We drove down Sunset and slowly through the quiet northern streets in Beverly Hills. Sometimes we parked and beamed the headlights over one lawn. Houses in Beverly Hills still amazed us. After we sat for a while, peering out trying to see movement inside the frames of fuzzy, lighted windows far back on a lawn, my mother would sigh and turn on the ignition. ‘Someday,’ she’d say.”

From Anywhere But Here by MONA SIMPSON

Photo: Soj!!, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Find more work here.