On being a parent

When I began writing these pages I believed their subject to be children, the ones we have and the ones we wish we had, the ways in which we depend on our children to depend on us, the ways in which we encourage them to remain children, the ways in which they remain more unknown to us than they do to their most casual acquaintances; the ways in which we remain equally opaque to them.

–Joan Didion Blue Nights

The Kissi are everywhere

The Kissi wander the streets ghosting the holiday merrymakers. Giddy families window-shop, trying to fill some of their desperate hours together with anything that gets them out of having to talk to each other. In some of those families, Mom or Dad is a Kissi. Or possessed by one. A little Kissi girl follows her parents, holding her big brother’s hand, literally draining the life from him as the family stops to admire a blinking LED wreath outside a Burmese restaurant.

–Richard Kadrey, Sandman Slim: A Novel

Learn by doing a little, every day

We don’t go to the gym expecting to put on 20 pounds of muscle in a single, day-long workout. Instead, we do several short workouts a week, spread out over months. Our bodies need time to heal; our muscles time to grow. And the same goes for that muscle inside your skull. When trying to develop a new skill, the important thing isn’t how much you do; it’s how often you do it.

Make no mistake, the goal isn’t to do avoid having to practice every day; it’s to make the repetition manageable so you can introduce new material every day. It’s about staying interested and excited about what you’re learning.

–Jack Cheng: 30 Minutes a Day

James’ magic

The night after her card trick, I told Alice about magic. I told her it was real and that I was a magician. She liked me well enough by then not to fifty-one-fifty me to the cops, but she looked at me like I’d just told her that I was the king of the mushroom people. So, I pinched the flame off one of the candles she’d lit and made it hop across my fingertips. I charmed old magazines, dirty shirts, and Chinese-restaurant flyers up from the floor, formed them into a vaguely female shape, and had them strut around the apartment like a fashion model. I made my neighbor’s yowling cat speak Russian and Alice’s tattoos move around like little movies under her skin.

–Richard Kadrey, Sandman Slim: A Novel

Vivid threat

When I was Downtown, I learned a lot about making threats. Make them big. Make them outrageous. You’re never going to kick someone’s ass. You’re going to pull out their tongue and pour liquid nitrogen down their throat, chip out their guts with an ice pick, slide in a pane of glass, and turn them into an aquarium. But you have to be careful with threats. Some Hellions and humans don’t know when to back down, and you might have to actually follow through. It didn’t happen often, but it was always a possibility.

–Richard Kadrey, Sandman Slim: A Novel

Our magic is useless in hell

“For your information, I didn’t use any magic Downtown. Our magic is a joke down there. It doesn’t work. You might as well be shouting brownie recipes.” I take a calming drag off the cigarette. “I don’t even remember much of the magic we did in the Circle, but I did learn a trick or two down under. Hellion magic, and every bit of it is designed to make you cry all the way home.”

–Richard Kadrey, Sandman Slim: A Novel

Slip into a shadow

It’s full-on night now and I’m surrounded by fat, ripe shadows. I cross the street and pick a plump, dark one around the side of Max Overload, next to a health food restaurant. I glance over my shoulder to make sure the street is clear, and when I’m sure I’m alone, I slip into the shadow. The key tickles inside my chest and I emerge into the Room of Thirteen Doors.

–Richard Kadrey, Sandman Slim: A Novel