Cups of Tea

“For his part, the Count had opted for the life of the purposefully unrushed. Not only was he disinclined to race toward some appointed hour–disdaining even to wear a watch–he took the greatest satisfaction when assuring a friend that a worldly matter could wait in favor of a leisurely lunch or a stroll along the embankment. After all, did not wine improve with age? Was it not the passage of years that gave a piece of furniture its delightful patina? When all was said and done, the endeavors that most modern men saw as urgent (such as appointments with bankers and the catching of trains), probably could have waited, while those they deemed frivolous (such as cups of tea and friendly chats) had deserved their immediate attention.”

— From A Gentleman in Moscow (2016) by Amor Towles

Assignment: Paris

Earl Norem Paris

Art by Earl Norem for “Assignment: Nazi Occupied Paris. Orders to: O.S.S. Agent William Harmon, ‘Rescue 14 French Prostitutes Whose Secrets Can Save the Normandy Invasion'” by Charles St. Claire in True Men, November 1965, in which Harmon, Albertine, Rachel and Suzanne flee from the Nazis through the Paris sewers.

“The moment the two unsuspecting guards appeared within the sights of their weapons, Harmon and Rachel jerked the triggers. Two shots cracked simultaneously, echoing and reverberating like angry thunder and smacking the eardrums like balled fists.”

During my four years in the Air Force, I never had an assignment like this one.



“Like the Freemasons, the Confederacy of the Humbled is a close-knit brotherhood whose members travel with no outward markings, but who know each other at a glance. For having fallen suddenly from grace, those in the Confederacy share a certain perspective. Knowing beauty, influence, fame, and privilege to be borrowed rather than bestowed, they are not easily impressed. They are not quick to envy or take offense. They certainly do not scour the papers in search of their own names. They remain committed to living among their peers, but they greet adulation with caution, ambition with sympathy, and condescension with an inward smile.”

— From A Gentleman in Moscow (2016) by Amor Towles