“The dangerously high level of the stupidity surplus was once again the lead story in The Owl that morning.” Jasper Fforde, First Among Sequels.

“Why are there so many robots in fiction, but none in real life?” Steven Pinker, How the Mind Works.

“In a city swollen by refugees but mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, a young man met a young woman in a classroom and did not speak to her.” Mohsin Hamid, Exit West.

“The police make policy about what law to enforce, how much to enforce it, against whom, and on what occasions.” Kenneth Culp Davis, Police Discretion.

“My ma used to tell me stories about my da.” Tana French, The Trespasser.

“One of the recurrent discoveries of academic writing about constitutional law—an all but certain ticket to tenure—is that from the standpoint of twentieth-century observers, the ‘original understanding’ of the document’s framers and ratifiers can be obscure to the point of inscrutability.” John Hart Ely, War and Responsibility: Constitutional Lessons of Vietnam and Its Aftermath.

“The day that ended with everything different in the life of Raimund Gregorius began like countless other days.” Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon.

“The phrase ‘American jury system’ implies that there is only one.” Randolph N. Jonakait, The American Jury System.

“My worst dreams have always contained images of brown water and fields of elephant grass and the downdraft of helicopter blades.” James Lee Burke, The Tin Roof Blowdown.

“The United States of America during the nineteenth century could quite properly be described as a ‘dope fiend’s paradise.’” Edward M. Brecher and the Editors of Consumer Reports, Licit and Illicit Drugs

“To judge from the entrance the dawn was making, it promised to be a very iffy day—that is blasts of angry sunlight one minute, fits of freezing rain the next, all of it seasoned with sudden gusts of wind—one of those days when someone who is sensitive to abrupt shifts in weather and suffers them in his blood and brain is likely to change opinion and direction continuously, like those sheets of tin, cut in the shape of banners and roosters, that spin every which way on rooftops with each new puff of wind.” Andrea Camilleri (Stephen Sarterelli translator), The Terra-Cotta Dog.

“I was riding in a Manhattan cab downtown, from 48th Street to Hudson Street, and I was talking on my cell phone to my racehorse trainer at Santa Anita.” Jane Smiley, A Year at the Races: Reflections on Horses, Humans, Love, Money, and Luck.

“Dennis Lenehan, the high diver, would tell people that if you placed a fifty-cent piece on the floor and looked down at it, that’s what the tank looked like from the top of that eighty-foot steel ladder.” Elmore Leonard, Tishomingo Blues.

“I will here give a brief sketch of the progress of opinion on the Origin of Species.”  Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life.

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