Short Flights: New Anthology of Contemporary Aphorists

“Editors Lough and Stein prove that good things come in small packages with this collection of modern aphorisms — short but sweet nuggets of wisdom, humor, insight, and clever turn of phrase.” Thus begins the Publishers Weekly review of Short Flights: Thirty-Two Modern Writers Share Aphorisms of Insight, Inspiration, and Wit, to be published November 1. The book includes aphorisms by former poet laureate Charles Simic and 2010 National Book Award finalist James Richardson as well as writers including David Shields, Stephen Dobyns, Ashleigh Brilliant, H.L. Hix, Charles Bernstein, Alfred Corn and me, among others.

“The 32 contributors (many of them poets),” the PW review continues, “introduce their work with prefaces, often confiding what the aphorisms mean to them. Their efforts delve into philosophy, self-reflection, and witty observation, often with what Lough, in his introduction, calls a twist (as in Oscar Wilde’s “I can resist anything except temptation”). Whether offering social criticism (such as Steven Carter’s gently barbed “Much can be tolerated by condemning it”), fine advice (as in James Guida’s “Bosses, like cats, should have to wear little bells to warn of their approach”), or keen definitions (“Panic is worry on a tight schedule,” according George Murray), each writer presents a worldview in bite-sized, memorable bon mots. Admittedly, another old saw — “A little goes a long way” — is also applicable, and the book is probably best dipped into at intervals. Not every writer will be to every reader’s taste, but there is sure to be something for everyone in this proverbial box of chocolates.”

Here is a selection of what Short Flights contains…

Eternity is the insomnia of Time. —Charles Simic

Success repeats itself until it is failure. —James Richardson

I tend to choose narcissists as my friends; that way I don’t worry that they’re talking about me behind  my back. —Sara Levine

I can name everything I have given up, nothing I have not. —H. L. Hix

The best remedy for worry is disaster. —Steven Carter

Knowledge is what happens when you rob suspicion of doubt. —George Murray

Astrology is the one religion with practically no believers and countless followers. —Irena Karafilly

In the beginning there was nothing, in the end there was Wal Mart. —Hart Pomerantz

The first kiss in the world was a bite. —Lily Ackerman

I love originality so much I keep copying it. —Charles Bernstein

It’s solitude if you like it. Loneliness if you don’t. —Eric Nelson

If you don’t have anything nice to say, post a comment. —Ann Lauinger

To see clearly, one must very often squint. —James Geary