"Mr. Herman Probst, an uneasy man, always fidgeting with his hands, was presently in a New York hotel being celebrated for his years and years of tracing down ghosts. Mr. Probst was very fond of ghosts - that is, of the figurative ones, with whom he was most acquainted, as opposed to the scary dead spirits so peevishly portrayed by popular culture, but whom he in his life had yet to encounter."
"Admit that biographers may share this illness, consumed by a life not their own. Disregard Janet Malcolm’s view of the biographer as busybody and burglar. Ignore that Henry James once created a secret drawer to outwit voyeurs seeking the letters he had already burned. Dismiss those who scorn your sniffing after vague scents and leads. Know that what you seek is to feel the pulse of another life, to get outside your own skin, your constricted time and place. Accept that readers and critics might applaud your work (all that time in archives!), but still ignore the writing itself, assuming that a fact-crammed tome equals a story."
"Penthouse A of Amity Tower II is heated to 87.5 degrees Fahrenheit, the preferred temperature of John-Jonathan Smith (body fat 4.8 percent) during subfreezing weather. John-Jonathan Smith wipes condensation from the floor-to-ceiling window. Through the swath of clarity, he observes human perambulation on the sidewalk below. The bundled-up pedestrians wobble and weave, despite direct point A to point B locomotion having probable survival advantages during benumbing climate events.
Hypothesis: the survival instincts of Homo sapiens are unsound.
Oppositional: why have Homo sapiens survived for 200,000 years (alert: approximation) while 4,000,000 (alert: extreme approximation) other species succumbed to extinction?
John-Jonathan Smith has read in documents of non-reality that from a height, humans appear ant-like. Yet even viewed from floor 40, the irrationally moving creatures are unquestionably people."