Great Writers, Too Much Coffee

By: Michael Fowler


It was late evening when K. arrived. The village lay under deep snow. There was no sign of his hotel, fog and darkness surrounded everything, not even the faintest gleam of light suggested the adjoining tavern that was supposed to stay open all night. Suddenly a door opened before K. and in the light a busty ski bunny appeared, beckoning to him with a foaming stein. “Excuse, me, sir,” she said. “We’re having a wet dirndl contest and need a judge, can you help us?” “I can do this,” K. thought with relief, hastening to follow her in.


Lo-lee-ta. The tip of the tongue shoots out beyond the lips, touches the tip of the nose and then the end of the chin, and snaps back with a wet smacking sound beneath crossed eyes.

Mary Shelley

A flash of lightning illuminated the object and discovered its shape plainly to me: the pate bald but for a single tuft of hair that stuck straight up, the white complexion, the huge lips of red greasepaint, the round putty nose. Then as I watched, the creature began to juggle three oranges.


The thousand injuries of Fortunado I had borne as best I could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. Cornering him in my wine cellar on the pretense of showing him a rare bottle of Amontillado, I waved my hand in his face in such fashion that his eyes fluttered to follow its birdlike movements. Then I slapped him upon one cheek, with such force that he turned to me the other, which I then slapped likewise, and so on again and again, so that his head twisted from side to side with my slaps. Tiring of that, I popped him on the sconce, this causing his head to retract and his round belly to come forward. Then I popped him on the belly, so that this rotundity withdrew and the head came forward once more, whereupon I continued to pop him head and belly in alternation so that he bent to and fro as if bowing to me. Finally, for good measure, I poked him in the eyes with my index and middle fingers simultaneously.


Captain Ahab stood erect upon his barbaric white leg, looking straight out beyond the ship’s ever-pitching prow. For a long while he spoke not, but seemed to contemplate the grim plight of mankind. Then suddenly he broke into a dazzling smile and called out to all on board, “Welcome, shipmates, to your Cancun cruise! Let’s get the party rolling with some grog!”

Tennessee Williams

GENTLEMAN CALLER: So, what do you do for fun?

LAURA: Let me show you my collection of glass animals.

(Laura stands, trips over the pillow she has been sitting on, and sails across the dining room and down the cellar steps, bumping thunderously against each one. She is followed in her descent by the entire glass menagerie that she has upset, the animals raining down upon her and breaking one by one over her head as, wincing with each blow, she sits on the cellar floor where she came to rest.)


Of all the ways to be wounded. I suppose it was funny. One leg permanently hung up in the air like a Rockette executing a high kick. What’s worse, it was inoperable. Brett said she understood that this affected my performance, but what did she know of how a man felt?


Once I tasted the crumbs of my cookie soaked in tea, a shudder ran through my whole body. Immediately I was in my childhood dentist’s office again, suffering the artless and medieval techniques of the senile and probably self-taught Dr. Borer. As a child with plenty of tooth decay, I used to brush my teeth in a mixture of cookies and tea given to me by my aunt Leonie. No doubt the old bat was unaware that the concoction gave me hundreds of cavities, but damn, what was she thinking? Dr. Borer used to grow white-hot and swear at me, and cuff me in lieu of anesthetic. Tell you one thing: I sure wasn’t going to drink this swill anymore, not when it made me hallucinate like that.


I saw myself living by a cliff near a field of rye that kids played in. When the kids ran for the cliff, I’d jump out to save them and they’d die laughing when they saw my big yellow jack-o’-lantern teeth and pointy hump, for I’d be rather eccentric-looking. I’d hand the kids small prizes and run after them honking a horn. Some of them would fall off the cliff anyway, terrified, but they wouldn’t be hurt. I’d be this crazy clown in the rye who the kids called Retardo.

Conan Doyle

I came face to face with Moriarty on the narrow path atop Reichenbach Falls, Watson. I meant to give up my life to stop him, and he was prepared to risk his for revenge. I rushed at him and gripped him, then fell back in amazement when his whole arm came away in my hands. I soon saw that the detached limb was a wooden counterfeit, perfect down to the carved and painted hand, and I noticed too that the professor, his sleeve now empty, was convulsed in laughter.


“For my own part,” said Miss Bingley, “I must confess that I could never see any beauty in Elizabeth Bennet. Her face is too thin; her complexion has no brilliancy; her nose has no character. And what’s with the fake buck teeth?”


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