He got up and sat on the edge of the bedstead with his back to the window. “It’s better not to sleep at all,” he decided. There was a cold damp draught from the window, however; without getting up he drew the blanket over him and wrapped himself in it. He was not thinking of anything and did not want to think. But one image rose after another, incoherent scraps of thought without beginning or end passed through his mind. He sank into drowsiness. Perhaps the cold, or the dampness, or the dark, or the wind that howled under the window and tossed the trees roused a sort of persistent craving for the fantastic. He kept dwelling on images of flowers, he fancied a charming flower garden, a bright, warm, almost hot day, a holiday—Trinity day. A fine, sumptuous country cottage in the English taste overgrown with fragrant flowers, with flower beds going round the house; the porch, wreathed in climbers, was surrounded with beds of roses. A light, cool staircase, carpeted with rich rugs, was decorated with rare plants in china pots. He noticed particularly in the windows nosegays of tender, white, heavily fragrant narcissus bending over their bright, green, thick long stalks. He was reluctant to move away from them, but he went up the stairs and came into a large, high drawing-room and again everywhere—at the windows, the doors on to the balcony, and on the balcony itself—were flowers. The floors were strewn with freshly-cut fragrant hay, the windows were open, a fresh, cool, light air came into the room. The birds were chirruping under the window, and in the middle of the room, on a table covered with a white satin shroud, stood a coffin. The coffin was covered with white silk and edged with a thick white frill; wreaths of flowers surrounded it on all sides. Among the flowers lay a girl in a white muslin dress, with her arms crossed and pressed on her bosom, as though carved out of marble. But her loose fair hair was wet; there was a wreath of roses on her head. The stern and already rigid profile of her face looked as though chiselled of marble too, and the smile on her pale lips was full of an immense unchildish misery and sorrowful appeal. Svidrigaïlov knew that girl; there was no holy image, no burning candle beside the coffin; no sound of prayers: the girl had drowned herself. She was only fourteen, but her heart was broken. And she had destroyed herself, crushed by an insult that had appalled and amazed that childish soul, had smirched that angel purity with unmerited disgrace and torn from her a last scream of despair, unheeded and brutally disregarded, on a dark night in the cold and wet while the wind howled

The Blog

  • Short Story Month: Writing a Story image of tag icon

    Okay, so in defiance to that whole Write-A-Novel-In-A-Month thing with the acronym that nobody can ever remember, I’m signing up for the mission proposed by Syntax of Things: A short story in a month. And I’m not jumping on this bandwagon  because back in Novel-Writing-Month-NaNoWrMoTg-WrSlKillmyself I actually thought I could write a chunk of a […]

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  • Roundup Lit Blog Co-Op image of tag icon

    I know I’m a bit late with some of these, but they’ve been hovering on my mind while I’ve been trying to get this new site up and running. Check them out: J. Robert Lennon has a new blog called Ward Six, which he writes with his wife. Check out his post on Five Chapters […]

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  • Things You Should Not Admit image of tag icon

    So Malcolm Jones, the book critic of Newsweek, candidly admitted that he hadn’t finished Vikram Chandra’s 928 page novel Sacred Games. If he were simply reading for pleasure, this wouldn’t be a problem, but he happened to have the temerity to write a review about a book he hadn’t finished. No, no, no. This is […]

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  • Duttons Down image of tag icon

    It’s abstractly depressing when you hear the statistics of independent bookstores closing in droves; it’s concretely depressing to see favorite bookstores in your town get the axe. First Dutton’s of Beverly Hills was forced to shut down; now the news is that the original Dutton’s will be remodeled out of existence. The LA Times reports […]

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  • William T. Vollmann and the Principles of Review image of tag icon

    I did not appreciate William T. Vollmann’s review of Anthony Swofford’s Exit A in the New York Times Book Review yesterday. It’s not that I believe he was wrong about the strengths of Swofford’s first book, Jarhead, or even that he was wrong about the weaknesses of Swofford’s first novel Exit A. It’s because I […]

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  • Return of the Fox image of tag icon

    I’m back from my Belizean honeymoon all fired up for 2007. Whoopee! That’s what scuba diving in the carribean and cave tubing will do for you. Now I promised a report on the reading going on down there in Central America, and I always make good on my promises, so here: I reread Richard Ford’s […]

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  • Mrs. BookFox image of tag icon

    Tomorrow I will double my teampower by marrying a wonderful woman who shall be dubbed Mrs. BookFox (at least online). So please enjoy some of the other book blogs in the blogosphere as I take a honeymoon until January 8th. Best wishes from Belize, where doubtless I will have at least some time on the […]

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  • What is the Timing? image of tag icon

    Francine Prose gives a very favorable review to Dave Egger’s latest novel/memoir What is the What in the Dec. 24th edition of the New York Times Book Review. Unfortunately, Egger’s book was released Oct. 25, two months ago. I know they were coordinating it with the podcast interview of Eggers, but isn’t two months a […]

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  • Upcoming Books for 2007! image of tag icon

    Not to get too much of a head start on things, but before the Christmas rush I wanted to make a list of books coming out next year. Anthony Swofford: Exit A [January 9, 2007]. Swofford, author of the memoir Jarhead, turns to fiction in Exit A. Martin Amis: House of Meeting. [January 15, 2007] […]

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