I bet I’m not the only one whose library is dotted with books that are dotted with Post-its. For the most part I only use them with books I’m studying while prepping a lecture or responding to a manuscript. Sometime the sticky has nothing more on it than an exclamation mark, and then it’s often
a coin toss as to whether I can remember why I marked the page.  
Every now and then I clean off all the stickies in the books that have piled up, and today was one of those days. And so tonight I offer up some sticky passages that I think were the ones that merited the exclamation mark. (Most are from three volumes in the “The Art of … “ series from Graywolf Press. Find them here.) 
The Art of Subtext by Charles Baxter:
  • It is often a mistake for a writer to give the narrative reins to an obsessive unless the novel is organized to produce a comic effect. (41)  
  • Every page is silent until the reader’s imagination revives it, adding tonal shifts, exclamation points, under-linings, over- and undertones. Without salt, the rice is tasteless. (94) 
  •  … a scene is usually defined as … the form of showing that is contrasted to telling. But creating a scene can also be the staging of a desire, making a darkness visible and dramatic. (129)  
The Art of Description by Mark Doty:
  • Don’t go in fear of that which has been looked at again and again. Poets return to the MOON immemorially; it is deeply compelling and we probably won’t ever get done with it. (100)
  • How do we say what we have seen of the suffering of others responsibly? Not to respond at all is a failure, to respond too easily a lie. (107)
The Art of Time in Fiction by Joan Silber
  • All the emotions that attach to the passage of time—regret, impatience, anticipation, mourning, the longing for what’s past, the desire for recurrence, the dread of recurrence—are the fuel of plots. (83)
1001 Riddles for Children 
  •  Where was Queen Elizabeth crowned?  daeh eht no (figure it out, ok?) 


Marsha Qualey is the author of several young adult novels, including Just Like That, Too Big of a Storm, One Night, and Close to a Killer. Her books have appeared on numerous best-of-the-year lists, including ALA Quick Picks, ALA Best Books for Young Adults, IRA Readers' Choice, New York Public Library's Books for the Teen Age, and School Library Journal's Best Books of the Year.

Marsha retired from the Hamline MFAC faculty in 2017. 

Visit Marsha's website.