Tag Archives: beatnikhiway.com

HIGHWAY AMERICA – Actual questions asked of #National Park Rangers


yosemiteActual questions asked of National Park Rangers



(From the May 1995 issue of Outside; sent to me by Karyen Chu)


  • Was this man made?
  • Do you light it up at night?
  • Is the mule train air conditioned?
  • So where are the faces of the presidents?




  • Are the alligators real?
  • Are the baby alligators for sale?
  • Where are all the rides?
  • What time does the 2 o’clock bus leave?


  • Did people build this, or did Indians?
  • Why did they build the ruins so close to the road?
  • Do you know of any undiscovered ruins?
  • What did they worship in the kivas – their own made up religion?
  • Why did the Indians decide to live in Colorado?


  • How much of the cave is underground?
  • So what’s in the unexplored part of the cave?
  • So what is this – just a hole in the ground?



  • Where are the cages for the animals?
  • What time of year do they turn on Yosemite Falls?
  • What happened to the other half of Half Dome?



  • Does Old Faithful erupt at night?
  • How do you turn it on?
  • When does the guy who turns it on get to sleep?
  • We had no trouble finding the park entrance but where are the exits?


  • What’s so wonderful about Wonder Lake?
  • How much does Mount McKinley weigh?
  • What time do you feed the bears?
  • How often do you mow the tundra?


  • Are the alligators real?
  • Are the baby alligators for sale?
  • Where are all the rides?
  • What time does the 2 o’clock bus leave?


  • Did people build this, or did Indians?
  • Why did they build the ruins so close to the road?
  • Do you know of any undiscovered ruins?
  • What did they worship in the kivas – their own made up religion?
  • Why did the Indians decide to live in Colorado?


  • How much of the cave is underground?
  • So what’s in the unexplored part of the cave?
  • So what is this – just a hole in the ground?


  • Where are the cages for the animals?
  • What time of year do they turn on Yosemite Falls?
  • What happened to the other half of Half Dome?


  • Does Old Faithful erupt at night?
  • How do you turn it on?
  • When does the guy who turns it on get to sleep?
  • We had no trouble finding the park entrance but where are the exits?


  • What’s so wonderful about Wonder Lake?
  • How much does Mount McKinley weigh?
  • What time do you feed the bears?
  • How often do you mow the tundra?

The coolest things bought by rich people


The coolest things bought by #rich people

The global economy has been taking a beating, but that doesn’t mean Russian oligarchs, Saudi princes and the rest of the .001% have stopped spending absurd amounts of money on strange, extravagant, and ridiculously cool items.Many of the most extreme purchases were made in auction houses. Others were simply tremendous displays of wealth by the world’s richest people.From real estate to cars, jewels to live animals, here are the most ridiculous purchases people made in the past 12 months, from lowest to highest price paid.

1.A Colt revolver sold for $977,500
The most expensive single firearm ever sold at open auction
A Cali Paterson Colt revolver sold for $977,500 at auction in September 2011, surpassing the previous record firearm auction price of $920,000, also for a Colt revolver.
The buyer was described as a “Silicon Valley mogul.”

2.An Hermès Birkin bag sold for $203,150
Most expensive handbag ever sold at auction
An Hermès handbag encrusted with diamonds officially became the most expensive handbag ever sold at auction when it was purchased for $203,150 at a Heritage Auctions sale in Dallas, Texas in December 2011.
The bag, which is officially called the Hermès Exceptional Collection Shiny Rouge H Porosus Crocodile 30 cm Birkin Bag with Solid 18K White Gold & Diamond Hardware, sold to an anonymous buyer.

3.A woman paid $250,000 to have size 38KKK breasts
The world’s largest breasts
Twenty-two surgeries and $250,000 later, Sheyla Hershey now has the world’s largest breasts, measuring at a staggering 38KKK.
Hershey broke the record by putting 85 fluid ounces (comparable to a six pack of soda) of saline in each of her implants. She increased her breast size from a B to a KKK, and was featured on TLC’s “My Strange Addiction” in February 2012.

4.A Chinese businessman paid $328,000 for a pigeon
The world’s most expensive pigeon
In February a Chinese shipping magnate, Hu Zhen Yu, paid a record-breaking amount—$328,000—for a Dutch fancy pigeon of the Dolce Vita breed.
The bird had been auctioned off in a group of 245 pigeons on the Belgian website Pigeon Paradise, or PIPA.
Hu Zhen Yu bought the bird for breeding, not racing. The sale far exceeded last year’s purchase of a similar pigeon for $200,000.

5.A bluefin tuna sold for $736,000
Most expensive tuna ever sold
A 539-pound bluefin tuna caught off the coast of northeastern Japan sold for $736,000 at a Tokyo fish auction in January.
It was a record price for a tuna and also set a record per-pound price at $1,238 per pound.
The winning bidder was Kiyoshi Kimura, president of a sushi restaurant chain, who said at the time he wanted to help the country recover from economic stagnation associated with the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

6.A photograph sold for $4.34 million
The most expensive photo ever sold
In November, an anonymous buyer paid a record-breaking $4.34 million for Andreas Gursky’s photograph of the Rhine River, called Rhein II.
The snapshot, which sold at Christie’s impressionist and modern art auction in New York, beat out Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #96, which sold for a whopping $3.89 million at a Christie’s sale in May 2011.
Gursky’s print, made in 1999, was expected to sell for between $2.5 million and $3.5 million. It depicts a stunning panorama of Germany’s most famous river. The sale price includes the buyer’s premium.

7.A Babe Ruth Yankee jersey sold for $4.4 million
The most expensive sports memorabilia ever
Babe Ruth’s New York Yankees jersey from 1920 sold for $4.4 million at auction in May to an anonymous buyer.
“New York” is plastered across the front of the jersey, and the inside collar reads “Ruth, G.H.”
The jersey had been on display at the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum in Baltimore before it was put up for auction.

8.A 900-year-old bowl sold for $26.7 million
The most expensive Song dynasty ceramics ever sold at auction
A 900-year-old bowl from the Song dynasty sold for $26.7 million at auction in April, smashing previous auction records.
Bidding for the piece, known as the Ruyao Bowl, went on for 15 minutes before a Sotheby’s auctioneer brought down the hammer.
The bowl came from a Japanese collector; the buyer remained anonymous.

9.A Henry Moore statue sold for $30.1 million
Most expensive Henry Moore work ever sold
A large, scale semi-abstract statue of a human figure, made from bronze in 1951 by artist Henry Moore, sold for $30.1 million at Christie’s last week. The statue, called “Reclining Figure: Festival” was the most expensive Henry Moore ever sold.
Cologne-based dealer Alex Lachmann purchased the statue at the London-based auction.

10.A Ferrari GTO sold for $35 million
The most expensive car ever sold
An apple green Ferrari 250 GTO from 1962 sold in June for $35 million, making it the world’s new most expensive car.
Cellphone industry tycoon Craig McCaw purchased the car from current owner Eric Heerema, owner of a vineyard, who had originally bought the car for $8.4 million.
The GTO was originally commissioned for race car driver Stirling Moss.

11.Mark Rothko’s “Orange, Red, and Yellow” sold for $86.8 million
Auction record for any Post-War and Contemporary work of art
Mark Rothko’s “Orange, Red, and Yellow,” a 1961 oil painting, sold at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art sale in New York this May for $86.8 million.
The painting, which sold to an anonymous buyer after a 7-minute bidding war, went for well above its high estimate of $45 million. It also set an auction record for the artist.
The work had come from the collection of David and Gerry Pincus, prominent Philadelphia collectors and philanthropists.

12.Britain’s Park Place estate sold for $219.3 million
The most expensive home in Britain
In August, it emerged that an unnamed Russian tycoon had paid £140 million ($219.3 million) for Park Place, a 300-year-old estate in the village of Remenham, near Henley-on-Thames, Oxon.
The property includes 200 acres of the parklands, listed monuments, a main house, cottages, stables and a boat house, the Telegraph reported at the time.
It was sold by Mike Spink, a developer who bought the property in 2007 and spent several million dollars renovating it.

13.A mega yacht sold for $300 million
The ninth-largest yacht in the world
In August 2011, an unknown mogul took delivery of the brand-new Serene, a 440-foot yacht that is believed to be the ninth-largest yacht in the world, for $300 million.
Features include two helicopter landing platforms (one with a hangar), storage for a large submarine, and a huge indoor seawater pool.
While the buyer remains unknown, he’s rumored to be Yuri Schefler, a Russian vodka tycoon

14.A Saudi prince bought a private jet for $500 million
The most expensive private jet ever sold
Billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bought an A380 double decker private jet from Airbus for $500 million.
This is the most expensive private jet ever sold.
Ordered in 2007, this luxury floating palace will reportedly include a garage for two Rolls Royces, a stable for horses and camels, a pen for hawks, a prayer room that always points to Mecca, and seating capacity for 460 passengers.

15.John Lennon’s tooth sold for $31,200
Most expensive tooth from the mouth of a Beatle
John Lennon’s tooth—cavity and all—was sold at auction in November 2011 for $31,200, nearly twice its pre-sale estimate.
A Canadian dentist, Michael Zuk, purchased the tooth to display it in his office and to show to other dental schools.

Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers


Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers

stephen king writing tips

In one of my favorite Stephen King interviews, for The Atlantic, he talks at length about the vital importance of a good opening line. “There are all sorts of theories,” he says, “it’s a tricky thing.” “But there’s one thing” he’s sure about: “An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.” King’s discussion of opening lines is compelling because of his dual focus as an avid reader and a prodigious writer of fiction—he doesn’t lose sight of either perspective:

We’ve talked so much about the reader, but you can’t forget that the opening line is important to the writer, too. To the person who’s actually boots-on-the-ground. Because it’s not just the reader’s way in, it’s the writer’s way in also, and you’ve got to find a doorway that fits us both.

This is excellent advice. As you orient your reader, so you orient yourself, pointing your work in the direction it needs to go. Now King admits that he doesn’t think much about the opening line as he writes, in a first draft, at least. That perfectly crafted and inviting opening sentence is something that emerges in revision, which can be where the bulk of a writer’s work happens.

Revision in the second draft, “one of them, anyway,” may “necessitate some big changes” says King in his 2000 memoir slash writing guide On Writing. And yet, it is an essential process, and one that “hardly ever fails.” Below, we bring you King’s top twenty rules from On Writing. About half of these relate directly to revision. The other half cover the intangibles—attitude, discipline, work habits. A number of these suggestions reliably pop up in every writer’s guide. But quite a few of them were born of Stephen King’s many decades of trial and error and—writes the Barnes & Noble book blog—“over 350 million copies” sold, “like them or loathe them.”

1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”

2. Don’t use passive voice. “Timid writers like passive verbs for the same reason that timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe.”

3. Avoid adverbs. “The adverb is not your friend.”

4. Avoid adverbs, especially after “he said” and “she said.”

5. But don’t obsess over perfect grammar. “The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story.”

6. The magic is in you. “I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.”

7. Read, read, read. ”If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

8. Don’t worry about making other people happy. “If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”

9. Turn off the TV. “TV—while working out or anywhere else—really is about the last thing an aspiring writer needs.”

10. You have three months. “The first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months, the length of a season.”

 11. There are two secrets to success. “I stayed physical healthy, and I stayed married.”

12. Write one word at a time. “Whether it’s a vignette of a single page or an epic trilogy like ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ the work is always accomplished one word at a time.”

13. Eliminate distraction. “There’s should be no telephone in your writing room, certainly no TV or videogames for you to fool around with.”

14. Stick to your own style. “One cannot imitate a writer’s approach to a particular genre, no matter how simple what that writer is doing may seem.”

15. Dig. “Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible.”

16. Take a break. “You’ll find reading your book over after a six-week layoff to be a strange, often exhilarating experience.”

17. Leave out the boring parts and kill your darlings. “(kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.)”

18. The research shouldn’t overshadow the story. “Remember that word back. That’s where the research belongs: as far in the background and the back story as you can get it.”

19. You become a writer simply by reading and writing. “You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.”

20. Writing is about getting happy. “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.”

See a fuller exposition of King’s writing wisdom at Barnes & Noble’s blog.



  • The Velcro ® brand of hook and loop was invented by a man named George de Mestral in the 1940’s while hunting in the Jura mountains in Switzerland. Mr. de Mestral, a Swiss engineer, realized that the tiny hooks of the cockle-burs were stuck on his pants and in his dog’s fur and wondered how they attached themselves.

#Ginsberg in the 50s


Ginsberg in the 50s


A brief excerpt from David Burner’s Making Peace with the Sixties (Princeton University Press, 1996):

Ginsberg’s stay in the mental ward was not intended to help him realize his desire for life to be a “sweet humane surprise.” Ginsberg tried to conform, returned after several months to Paterson, dated women, and found a job. He was miserable until he moved to California in 1954 and began seeing a $1 an hour psychiatrist at the university in Berkeley. In San Francisco Ginsberg saw another psychiatrist, Philip Hicks, who asked him what he would like to do. “Doctor,” as Ginsberg recalls his answer, “I don’t think you’re going to find this very healthy and clear,”

but I really would like to stop working forever–never work again, never do anything like the kind of work I’m doing now–and do nothing but write poetry and have leisure to spend the day outdoors and go to museums and see friends. And I’d like to keep living with someone — maybe even a man — and explore relationships that way. And cultivate my perceptions, cultivate the visionary thing in me. Just a literary and quiet city-hermit existence. Then he said “Well, why don’t you?” I asked him what the American Psychoanalytic Association would say about that, and he said . . . if that is what you really feel would please you, what in the world is stopping you from doing it?

Portraits Of Famous Artists, And The Cats That Kept Them Sane


Portraits Of Famous Artists, And The Cats That Kept Them Sane

 “I think the artist and cat are kindred spirits, because they are often mythologized,” author Alison Nastasi explained to The Huffington Post. “Both are frequently stereotyped as being aloof or even self-interested.”

Nastasi is the mind behind Artists and Their Cats, an aptly named compilation of photographs illustrating the historic partnership of, well, cat and artist. From Pablo Picasso to Frida Kahlo to Salvador Dali, the book reveals the felines behind some of the biggest painters and sculptors in the business. Because there’s nothing more enchanting than the friendships forged between achingly creative icons and the four-legged creatures that probably kept them sane.

daliSalvador Dali and his ocelot. World Telegram & Sun photo by Roger Higgins; image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

As Nastasi points out, cats tend to co-exist with their owners, generally demanding less attention than a dog — the more dependent of the domestic pets. “I think that’s necessary for an artist, whose focus is usually on what’s happening in the studio,” she added. “There’s a mutual respect or symbiosis … Working in the studio can be isolating sometimes. Cats bring life to a space that still provides an artist with the necessary alone time to thrive.”

The idea for the book started at Flavorwire, where Nastasi works as a weekend editor. After reading an article about Tracey Emin and her beloved cat Docket, Nastasi — whose own cat had just died — wrote a simple listicle for the website about artists and their whiskered sidekicks. Chronicle Books spotted the round-up and voila! A project was born. Nastasi sourced from libraries, photo archives and artist families to create her “family album” of sorts, featuring tender moments between animal and man.

Many of the artist-cat duos featured in Nastasi’s book predate Internet culture’s feline obsession. Not that the author has a problem with the contemporary phenomenon. “I think it’s fantastic,” she said. “Internet culture’s cat obsession has helped bring attention to various animal rescue organizations and special-needs animals that might have been previously ignored. Animal celebs like Lil BUB and Grumpy Cat help spread awareness about adoption and spaying/neutering, and have donated to various charities.”

For more on Agnès Varda and her cat Zgougou, Henri Matisse and his Minouche and Coussi, or Patti Smith and her furry guardian, check out Artists and Their Cats in its entirety. Meanwhile, here’s a preview of the compilation.

  • Georgia O’Keeffe and her cat. Photograph by John Candelario. Courtesy Palace of the Governors Photo Archives (NMHM/DCA), 165660.
  • Henri Matisse and his cat. © Robert Capa © International Center of Photography/Magnum Photos.
  • Edward Gorey and his cat. Photo by Eleanor Garvey; used by permission.
  • John Cage and his cat. Courtesy of the John Cage Trust.
  • Wanda Gag and her cat. World Telegram & Sun photo by Roger Higgins; image courtesy of the Library of Congress.
  • Florence Henri and her cat. Courtesy Archive Florence Henri/Martini & Ronchetti, Genoa.
  • Agnes Varda and her cat. Photograph by Didier Doussin; used by permission.
  • Arthur Rackham and his cats. Image courtesy of the Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University.
  • Claude Cahun and her cat. Photo courtesy of the Jersey Heritage Museum.
  • Philip Burne Jones and his cat. Photo by Bain News Service, no date listed; image courtesy of the Library of Congress.
  • World Telegram & Sun photo by Roger Higgins; image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Ann and Nancy Wilson (Heart) #Stairway To Heaven Live HD


Ann & Nancy Wilson (Heart) Stairway To Heaven Live HD


He Wrote One Of The Most Well Known Songs Of All Time. This Rendition Brought Even Him To Tears. – Even the most unlikely fans were moved to tears during this incredible performance. Honoring Led Zeppelin, and one of the most brilliantly composed songs ever written, Heart covers the classic “Stairway To Heaven”. Ann and Nancy honored the band and the song by pairing it with a brilliant orchestra and choir. This song was originally released in 1971 composed by guitarist Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. Many have called it the greatest rock song of all time. It has been voted number three on the list of 100 Greatest Rock Songs. It is estimated to have over 2.8 million radio station plays which played back to back would run for 44 years straight. Seeing Robert Plant himself being brought to tears over this rendition makes it all the more incredibly moving. What a tremendous performance!


#Dennis Hopper, drunk and stoned with six sticks of dynamite—what could possibly go wrong?


Dennis Hopper, drunk and stoned with six sticks of dynamite—what could possibly go wrong?

10:12 amTopics:
Dennis Hopper
Dennis Hopper, drunk and stoned with six sticks of dynamite—what could possibly go wrong? In 1983 Dennis Hopper went to Rice University in Houston, Texas ostensibly to screen his latest film Out Of The Blue. But little known to anyone, other than Hopper and a handful of his buddies, he had another agenda entirely. While he did indeed screen his movie, Hopper had actually come to Houston to blow himself up.After screening Out Of The Blue, Hopper arranged to have the audience driven by a fleet of school buses to a racetrack on the outskirts of Houston, the Big H Speedway. Hopper and the buses arrived at the speedway just as the races were ending and a voice was announcing over the public address system “stick around folks and watch a famous Hollywood filmpersonalityperform the Russian Dynamite Death Chair Act. That’s right, folks, he’ll sit in a chair with six sticks of dynamite and light the fuse.”Was famous Hollywood personality Dennis Hopper about to go out with a bang?Hopper apparently learned this stunt when he was a kid after seeing it performed in a traveling roadshow. If you place the dynamite pointing outwards the explosion creates a vacuum in the middle and the person performing the stunt is, if all goes according to plan, unharmed.After bullshittingfor awhile with the crowd and his friends, a drunk and stoned Hopper climbed into the “death chair’ and lit the dynamite.A Rice News correspondent described the scene:

Dennis Hopper, at one with the shock wave, was thrown headlong in a halo of fire. For a single, timeless instant he looked like Wile E. Coyote, frazzled and splayed by his own petard. Then billowing smoke hid the scene. We all rushed forward, past the police, into the expanding cloud of smoke, excited, apprehensive, and no less expectant than we had been before the explosion. Were we looking for Hopper or pieces we could take home as souvenirs? Later Hopper would say blowing himself up was one of the craziest things he has ever done, and that it was weeks before he could hear again. At the moment, though, none of that mattered. He had been through the thunder, the light, and the heat, and he was still in one piece. And when Dennis Hopper staggered out of that cloud of smoke his eyes were glazed with the thrill of victory and spinout.

Dynamite Death Chair Act



Three years later Hopper went on to an equally explosive performance playing one of the most diabolical bad guys in the history of cinema: Blue Velvet‘s Frank Booth.


Chevy Chase Show S01E07 part 1 09-15-1993 Dennis Hopper


30 Writers Other Writers Loved To Hate


30 Writers Other Writers Loved To Hate

Norman Mailer could throw some serious shade.


. Jack Kerouac

Tom Palumbo


“None of these people [in the Beat Generation] have anything interesting to say, and none of them can write, not even Mr. Kerouac. It’s not writing, it’s typing.” — Truman Capote

“His rhythms are erratic, his sense of character is nil, and he is as pretentious as a rich whore, sentimental as a lollypop.” — Norman Mailer

2. Truman Capote

Roger Higgins / via commons.wikimedia.org

Random House

“He’s a full-fledged housewife from Kansas with all the prejudices.” — Gore Vidal

3. Saul Bellow

Keith Botsford


“[It’s] not that there were no ideas in Herzog to be pondered, but rather that these ideas were not Bellow’s own theses, but rather ideas he had picked up in his reading. His mind is very intelligent, very cultured, very cultivated. He’s read a million books and remembered them, but he is not an original thinker..” — Norman Mailer

4. Mark Twain

Charles Webster

“[A] hack writer who would not have been considered fourth rate in Europe, who tricked out a few of the old proven ‘sure fire’ literary skeletons with sufficient local color to intrigue the superficial and the lazy.” — William Faulkner

5. Ernest Hemingway

Lloyd Arnold

Charles Scribners Sons

“I read him for the first time in the early Forties, something about bells, balls and bulls, and loathed it.” — Vladimir Nabokov

“People always think that the reason he’s easy to read is that he is concise. He isn’t. I hate conciseness — it’s too difficult. The reason Hemingway is easy to read is that he repeats himself all the time, using ‘and’ for padding.” — Tom Wolfe

“No courage. Never been known to use a word that might send the reader to a dictionary.” — William Faulkner, as recounted by A.E. Hotchner

6. William Faulkner

Carl Von Vechter


“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?” — Ernest Hemingway

“Have you ever heard of anyone who drank while he worked? You’re thinking of Faulkner. He does sometimes – and I can tell right in the middle of a page when he’s had his first one.” — Ernest Hemingway, again

7. Evelyn Waugh

Carl Van Vechten

Chapman & Hall

“His style has the desperate jauntiness of an orchestra fiddling away for dear life on a sinking ship.” — Edmund Wilson

8. Marcel Proust

Modern Library

“I am reading Proust for the first time. Very poor stuff. I think he was mentally defective.” — Evelyn Waugh

9. E.M. Forster

Dora Carrington


”[Howard’s End] is not good enough. E.M. Forster never gets any further than warming the teapot. He’s a rare fine hand at that. Feel this teapot. Is it not beautifully warm? Yes, but there ain’t going to be no tea.” — Katherine Mansfield

10. James Joyce

Sylvia Beach

”[Ulysses] is a revolting record of a disgusting phase of civilisation; but it is a truthful one; and I should like to put a cordon around Dublin; round up every male person in it between the ages of 15 and 30; force them to read it; and ask them whether on reflection they could see anything amusing in all that foul mouthed, foul minded derision and obscenity.” — George Bernard Shaw

“[Ulysses is] the work of a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples.” — Virginia Woolf

11. Edgar Allan Poe

Bantam Classics

“[To take Poe] with more than a certain degree of seriousness is to lack seriousness one’s self. An enthusiasm for Poe is the mark of a decidedly primitive stage of reflection.” — Henry James

12. William Shakespeare

“The intensity of my impatience with him occasionally reaches such a pitch, that it would positively be a relief to me to dig him up and throw stones at him, knowing as I do how incapable he and his worshippers are of understanding any less obvious form of indignity.” — George Bernard Shaw

13. Jane Austen



“I am at a loss to understand why people hold Miss Austen’s novels at so high a rate, which seem to me vulgar in tone, sterile in artistic invention, imprisoned in their wretched conventions of English society, without genius, wit, or knowledge of the world. Never was life so pinched and narrow. The one problem in the mind of the writer … is marriageableness.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice, I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.” — Mark Twain

14. Joseph Conrad

George Charles Beresford


“I cannot abide Conrad’s souvenir shop style and bottled ships and shell necklaces of romanticist clichés.” — Vladimir Nabokov

15. Alexander Pope

Michael Dahl


“There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope.” — Oscar Wilde

16. Ezra Pound

Alvin Langdon Coburn

New Directions

“A village explainer. Excellent if you were a village, but if you were not, not.” — Gertrude Stein

17. J.K. Rowling

Carlo Allegri / Reuters


“How to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone? Why, very quickly, to begin with,
perhaps also to make an end. Why read it? Presumably, if you cannot be persuaded to read anything better, Rowling will have to do.” — Harold Bloom

18. John Updike

“My moral complaint was that Updike had tremendous, Nabokov-level talent and was wasting it, because he was too charmed by his daily dumps and too afraid of irregularity to take the kind of big literary risks that might have blocked him for a year or two. …Updike was exquisitely preoccupied with his own literary digestive processes, and his virtuosity in clocking and rendering the minutiae of daily life was undeniably unparalleled, but his lack of interest in the bigger postwar, postmodern, socio-technological picture marked him, in my mind, as a classic self-absorbed sixties-style narcissist.” — Jonathan Franzen

“Maybe the only thing the reader ends up appreciating about [Toward the End of Time protagonist] Ben Turnbull is that he’s such a broad caricature of an Updike protagonist that he helps us figure out what’s been so unpleasant and frustrating about this gifted author’s recent characters. It’s not that Turnbull is stupid… It’s that he persists in the bizarre adolescent idea that getting to have sex with whomever one wants whenever one wants is a cure for ontological despair. And so, it appears, does Mr. Updike…” — David Foster Wallace

19. Miguel de Cervantes

Juan de Jáuregui

Harper Perennial

“Reading Don Quixote can be compared to an indefinite visit from your most impossible senior relative, with all his pranks, dirty habits, unstoppable reminiscences, and terrible cronies.” — Martin Amis

20. George Orwell



“He could not blow his nose without moralising on the state of the handkerchief industry.” — Cyril Connolly

21. Honoré de Balzac

Modern Library Classics

“What a man Balzac would have been if he had known how to write.” — Gustave Flaubert

22. Henry David Thoreau

Benjamin D. Maxham


“He was imperfect, unfinished, inartistic; he was worse than provincial — he was parochial.” — Henry James

23. Virginia Woolf

George Charles Beresford

Harcourt Brace

“Virginia Woolf’s writing is no more than glamorous knitting. I believe she must have a pattern somewhere.” — Dame Edith Sitwell

24. Walt Whitman

“Like a large shaggy dog, just unchained, scouring the beaches of the world and baying at the moon.” — Robert Louis Stevenson

25. T.S. Eliot

Barnes and Noble Classics

“If I knew that by grinding Mr. Eliot into a fine dry powder and sprinkling that powder over [Joseph] Conrad’s grave Mr. Conrad would shortly appear…. I would leave for London tomorrow morning with a sausage grinder.” — Ernest Hemingway

26. Bertolt Brecht

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“Personally I would rather have written Winnie-the-Pooh than the collected works of Brecht.” — Tom Stoppard

27. Bret Easton Ellis

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Vintage Books

”[American Psycho] panders shamelessly to the audience’s sadism for a while, but by the end it’s clear that the sadism’s real object is the reader herself […] In dark times, the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements of what’s human and magical that still live and glow despite the times’ darkness. Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it’d find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it. You can defend Psycho as being a sort of performative digest of late-eighties social problems, but it’s no more than that.” — David Foster Wallace

28. David Foster Wallace

Keith Bedford / Getty Images

Little, Brown

“Saint David Foster Wallace: a generation trying to read him feels smart about themselves which is part of the whole bullshit package.” — Bret Easton Ellis

29. Agatha Christie

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“To say that Agatha Christie’s characters are cardboard cut-outs is an insult to cardboard cut-outs.” — Ruth Rendell

30. J.D. Salinger

Associated Press

Little, Brown

“I seem to be alone in finding him no more than the greatest mind ever to stay in prep school.” — Norman Mailer

“It took me days to go through [Catcher in the Rye], gingerly, a page at a time, and blushing with embarrassment for him every ridiculous sentence of the way. How can they let him do it?” — Elizabeth Bishop

“[Franny and Zooey] suffers from this terrible sort of metropolitan sentimentality and it’s so narcissistic … so false, so calculated. Combining the plain man with an absolutely megalomaniac egotism. I simply can’t stand it.” — (Mary McCarthy