About the Author

Cathal Kelly

Books by this Author
Boy Wonders

Into my late twenties, I carried around a series of diaries listing every book I’d ever read—how many pages it contained, when it had been started and finished, and a mark out of five stars. I loved reading, but I got a special thrill from being able to pad the list.

Life is not orderly, but a list can make it so. As you change, so do your lists.

I no longer believe that The Breakfast Club is one of the ten best films ever made. But there was a younger version of myself who did. An astrophysicist once told me, “You cannot properly consider a system of which you are a part.” (It’s one of the Top 20 Aphorisms I’ve Encountered in Conversation.)

So while I remember the iteration of myself who thought Molly Ringwald dancing on a staircase and Emilio Estevez talking about ripping the hair off some guy’s ass was right up there with La Règle du Jeu, I’m not sure I would recognize him now.

However, I can make certain assumptions about him because I have the list as a reference point. If the list is long enough, you can make good guesses about someone’s personality and approach. You can tell if this is someone you’d like.

In journalism, lists are considered the lowest form of literature, tucked in behind streeters and notes columns. A list is what you print in August when everyone’s on vacation and you can’t come up with anything better.

I’ve never understood that pervasive opinion. I defy you to read past a list on a printed page. It’s impossible. Because you know that while ten thousand words of explication may tell you nothing about the author, a list can’t help but do so. It lets you flip through the filing system of someone’s brain. It’s a form of mind reading.

It’s my book so I get to inflict just a few of my lists on you.

I apologize in advance if they do not offend you. That was my intention. I’ll try to learn from this and do better in future.

1. Being unreachable
2. Ignorance of the daily news cycle
3. Rotary dial
4. Remembering phone numbers
5. Silence
6. Darkness
7. Smoking on subway platforms
8. Music videos as destination television
9. Aerosol deodorant

1. The middle seat
2. Cleveland after dark
3. Disney World/Land
4. Cleveland in daylight
5. Any hotel room facing a highway
6. O’Hare Airport at Christmas
7. A twenty-four-hour coffee shop between 2 and 5 a.m.
8. The front row at a movie theatre
9. Any lineup for any reason
10. Budapest

1. Picnics
2. Being there
3. Concerts in arenas
4. Canoeing
5. The Louvre
6. Theatre in a park
7. Cross-country skiing
8. Opening night
9. Pop-up anything
10. Cooking over an open fire

1. None. Nobody cares about your excuses.
2. “I apologize unreservedly.”
3. “Is that really what you wanted?”
4. “This is news to me.”
5. “Are you sure you gave it to me?”
6. “They didn’t have it.”
7. “What can I tell you?”
8. “I feel like I did that already.”
9. “That’s not what he told me.”
10. “I think you’ve got it backwards.”

1. New York
2. London
3. Berlin
4. Prague
5. Florence
6. Nairobi
7. Vienna
8. Johannesburg
9. Zagreb
10. Minneapolis

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