The Write Stuff

Playmate of the Month

The Write Stuff

Self-proclaimed book fiend Jessica Ashley’s favorite literary passages

Miss June 2014 Jessica Ashley, an unabashed bookworm, started writing prose at the age of four and lists modernist erotic masters Henry Miller and Anais Nin as her favorite writers. “People always told me I should model, but literature was my focus,” she says. Because it’s been such a passion of hers, we thought we’d end the week that we spent introducing Jessica as our newest centerfold by having her send us her nine favorite literary passages.

The Unquiet Grave by Cyril Connolly

“What follow are the doubts and reflections of a year; an experiment in self-dismantling, a search for the obstruction which is blocking the flow from the well.”

The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil

“It is life that does the thinking all around us, forming with playful ease the connections our reason can only laboriously patch together piecemeal, and never to such kaleidoscopic effect.”

The Essential Rumi by Jalal al-Din Rumi

“There’s no one with intelligence in this town except that man over there playing with the children, the one riding the stick horse. He has keen, fiery insight and vast dignity like the night sky, but he conceals it in the madness of child's play.”

A Literate Passion: Letters of Anais Nin and Henry Miller, 1932-1953 by Anais Nin and Henry Miller

“Je pense à toi tous le temps. You will not be angry if I tell you I thought of you again while reading The Brothers Karamazov. … I have got terribly behind in the pursuit of madness, Henry, but that is what you wanted: that I should get behind in my writing. … That way I live more for you, I can give more time, more adoration to the man who is helping the world to crack, or who has already split it open! A woman gives genius to the man she loves.”

Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell by Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Thomas Travisano and Saskia Hamilton

“I guess I love New York, but at this moment I’d as soon stick my head in a plastic sack. This has been the most lovely summer I’ve ever known. But never in the world will I see enough of you. You make most people, even the most charming, seem as if seen through a glaze, as if they lived in a glaze. And your poems and prose animals have the same freshness, the wood is exposed, clean and genuine.”—Robert Lowell in a letter to Elizabeth Bishop

Daniel Deronda by George Eliot

“But were not men of ardent zeal and far-reaching hope everywhere exceptional? These men had the visions which were the creators of the world—moulding and feeding the lives which without them would dwindle and shrivel into the narrow tenacity of insects, unshaken by thoughts beyond the reaches of their antennae.”

2666 by Roberto Bolaño

“I’m talking from a studio where the chaos is just a mask or the faint stink of anesthesia. I’m talking from a studio with the lights out, where the sinew of the will detaches itself from the body and slithers away, self-mutilated, amid the rubbish. I’m talking from the perspective of the simple things in life. You teach philosophy? You teach Wittgenstein? And have you asked yourself whether your hand is a hand? Now you have more important things to ask yourself, am I right? You’ve thought about your daughter, and about the murders committed daily in this city, about Baudelaire’s damn clouds, but you haven’t thought seriously about whether your hand is really a hand. If you had thought about it, you’d be dancing to the tune of a different piper.”

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

“The trick is to stop seeing yourself as trapped inside a limited body. The trick is to know that your true nature lives everywhere at once across space and time. You’ve got to understand that you are an unlimited idea of freedom, and your whole body is nothing more than thought itself.”

Erections, Ejaculations, Exhibitions and General Tales of Ordinary Madness by Charles Bukowski

“The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it—basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.”