"It’s easy to see why an actor who became famous very young might be captivated by others who were brought down by the same young fame. It’s easy to see why he might seek so much outside of Hollywood (the man now has five MFAs) even as he’s constantly told it’s where he belongs, and it gets harder to think he should stop. In this way, finding Bidart must have been like finding an angel — someone who supports and even champions his multifold pursuits."
You should read the book that you hear two booksellers arguing about at the registers while you’re browsing in a bookstore.
You should read the book that you see someone on the train reading and trying to hide that they’re laughing.
You should read the book that you see someone on the train reading and trying to hide that they’re crying.
You should read the book that you find left behind in the airplane seat pocket, on a park bench, on the bus, at a restaurant, or in a hotel room.
You should read the book that you see someone reading for hours in a coffee shop — there when you got there and still there when you left — that made you envious because you were working instead of absorbed in a book.
Everybody who rides a Greyhound from Newark at that hour might as well wear a sign reading, ASK ME ABOUT THE HORRIBLE MISTAKES THAT HAVE LED ME HERE.
Both books are about how falling in love for the first time, particularly if you’ve never seen a love story you can relate to, can be as terrifying and confusing as it is joyful.
A great pie is a product of both skill and wisdom; as, I believe, is a great life. You make a long string of intuitive decisions and hope they alchemize into something beautiful. That’s why each good pie that comes out of the oven felt like a win to me; it feels like a small reassurance that you’re good at life. Plus, delicious.
Janet Potter, “Zen and the Art of Pie Making”
I am consistently drawn in, and consistently disappointed, by bio-novels about women made unhappy by famous men. I read The Paris Wife, about Hadley Hemingway. I read Loving Frank, about Frank Lloyd Wright’s mistress. I read the diaries of Sofya Tolstoy. And now I’ve read Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald. I put each of them aside a heavy sigh when I’ve finished. I’m not disappointed in the books, but in the lives of the women. The point of these books is to tell their side of the story, but in reality, and definitely in Zelda’s case, they didn’t get their own side of the story.
"Paradoxically, this is the reason to write and read about Zelda [Fitzgerald], because she deserved a life much more interesting than the one that she got. Interesting to her, that is, a life she could have given her energy and talents to, not just a life made interesting by famous friends and European capitals.” - Janet Potter
There is a certain type of book, well-represented in 20th- and 21st-century American literature, that is about Men Handling Things. I can’t define the precise requirements of this genre, but I know that I’ve read this type of book many times over, by anyone from Fitzgerald and Hemingway to the Richards Yates and Ford. And let me be clear, I’ve just named four of my favorite authors. I’m not going to rant against Men Handling Things novels. I mean to say that there are a lot of them.
"I can’t say whether I was enjoying the book itself or just the true American, grand tradition of it all. Surely I’m reading a great book, I thought, a rich man with a diamond watch is staring at the ocean while his son looks on and doubts it all!"
Men Handling Things: On Stuart Nadler’s Wise Men by Janet Potter