Fiction I've Read
Click on an author's name to see the specific books I've read, or use the "+" button to expand them all.
- Achebe, Chinua
- Adams, Douglas
Of Love And Shadows [+]
- Bantam, 1988 softcover
Translated by Margaret Sayers Peden
Digna finished scrambling the eggs and onion and called the family to the kitchen. Each one appeared with his or her chair. As soon as the babies began to walk, she assigned them their own chair, personal and inviolate, the possession in the communal poverty of the Ranquileo family. Even the beds were shared, and clothing kept in great wicker baskets from which every morning the members of the family pulled out what they needed.
He vowed never to put on a pair of socks until he knew Franco was dead and buried, never imagining how many decades would pass before his wish was fulfilled. [...] Once his mortal enemy had died, he put on a pair of brilliant red socks that embraced all of his existential philosophy, but within half an hour was forced to remove them. He had gone sockless far too long, and now could not tolerate them. Dissembling, he swore to continue to go without socks until the fall of the General who ruled his adopted country with a fist of iron.
"Dammit, you can put them on me when I'm dead," he said. "I want to go to hell in red socks!"
He sat silent and removed, toying with a cord. Recently, the only thing that gave him any pleasure was tying knots; knots for halters, fishing lines, and stirrups; knots to hold hooks, keys, and guy wires; knots he tied and untied with incomprehensible compulsiveness. [...] The only dissent came from his wife, who complained of the roughness of his hands calloused by the accursed rope that lay coiled next to their bed every night like a domesticated snake.
- Bantam, 1988 softcover
- Amis, Kingsley
- Anderson, M.T.
- Asimov, Isaac
- Auster, Paul
The Sot-Weed Factor [+]
- Bantam, 1969 softcover (ebook)
And again, though the whole business of Greece and Rome was unquestionably delightful, he found the notion preposterous, almost unthinkable, that this was the only way it happened.
The man [...] was dizzy with the beauty of the possible; dazzled, he threw up his hands at choice, and like ungainly flotsam rode half-content the tide of chance. [...] His head always felt about to ache, but never began to.
"We sit here on a blind rock careening through space; we are all of us rushing headlong to the grave. Think you the worms will care, when anon they make a meal of you, whether you spent your moment sighing wigless in your chamber, or sacked the golden towns of Montezuma? Lookee, the day's nigh spent; 'tis gone careering into time forever. Not a tale's length past we lined our bowels with dinner, and already they growl for more. We are dying men [... ;] there's time for naught but bold resolves!"
"Teach a thing I know naught of? exclaimed Ebenezer.
"And raise thy fee for't," replied Burlingame, "inasmuch as 'tis no chore to teach what you know, but to teach what you know naught of requires a certain application. Choose a thing you'd greatly like to learn, and straightway proclaim yourself professor of't."
"'Tis our fate to search [...] and do we seek our soul, what we find is a piece of that same black Cosmos whence we sprang and through which we fall: the infinite wind of space ..."
"One must needs make and seize his soul, and then cleave fast to't, or go babbling in the corner; one must choose his gods and devils on the run, quill his own name upon the universe, and declaire ''Tis I, and the world stands such-a-way!' One must assert, assert, assert, or go screaming mad."
The stars were no longer points on a black hemisphere that hung like a sheltering roof above his head; the relationship between them he saw now in three dimensions, of which the one most deeply felt was depth. The length and breadth of space between the stars seemed trifling by comparison: what struck him now was that some were nearer, others farther out, and others unimaginably remote. Viewed in this manner, the constellations lost their sense entirely; their spurious character revealed itself, as did the false presupposition of the celestial navigator, and Ebenezer felt bereft of orientation. He could no longer think of up and down: the stars were simply out there, as well below him as above, and the wind appeared to howl not from the Bay but from the firmament itself, the endless corridors of space.
"Maddness!" Henry whispered.
Ebenezer's stomach churned; he swayed in the saddle and covered his eyes. For a swooning moment before he turned away it seemed that he was heels over head on the bottom of the planet looking down on the stars instead of up, and that only by dint of clutching his legs about the roan mare's girth and holding fast to the saddlebow with both his hands did he keep from dropping headlong into those vvasty reaches!
"I have learnt old Mother English to her very privates."
"Naught can be inferred to guide our conduct from the fact of our mortality."
"Put some other wench behind him in the dark: her mere displacement of the air he feels at once as an alien thing; the simple press of her on the pallet is foreign to his senses."
"My friend hath passed into realms of complexity beyond my compass, and I have lost him."
The cyclic periods of history were growing ever shorter and thus that at some non-unpredictable moment in the future the universe would go rigid and explode, just as the legendary bird called Ouida [...] was reputed to fly in ever-diminishing circles until at the end he disappeared into his own fundament.
- Bantam, 1969 softcover (ebook)
- Beckett, Samuel
- Bennett, Alan
- Vintage International, 2006 softcover
Translated by Richard and Clara Winston
As a scientist the only way is to pass through the endless, dark, and most of the time almost entirely airless corridor of your science in order to reach life.
"This walk," the prince said, "was once again one of those walks I love, without a word spoken. It goes without saying, Doctor, that on such walks there must not be a word spoken. Anyone who does not abide by this rule will never share such a walk with me again."
Inside every head is the human catastrophe corresponding to this particular head, the prince said. It is not necessary to open up men's heads in order to know that there is nothing inside them but a human catastrophe.
All the things that people say are said only in monologues, the prince said. "We are in an age of monologues. The art of the monologue is also a far higher art than the art of dialogue," he said.
"People walk with one another and talk with one another and sleep with one another and do not know one another. If people knew one another they would not walk, talk, or sleep with one another."
"I don't like expressions such as sense perception and so on, which my son uses so often. Moreover, I, in contrast to him, am totally opposed to quotations. Quoting gets on my nerves. [...] And what do you think of a sentence like: But chance, not God, as the common herd believes, must be assumed. My son deals in such sentences."
"This morning," the prince said, "I suddenly felt the need to lie flat on the floor, stark naked. I undressed and lay down stark naked on the floor. At breakfast I told the others about it, but nobody laughed."
"For hours I looked at Cardinal Retz's memoirs and could not fall asleep. But I was incapable of getting up and throwing the book out the window. Finally I did get up and threw Cardinal Retz's memoirs out of the window and realized that I had been looking at them for five hours and that they had been irritating me for five hours without my throwing them out of the window."
"I have often been asked why I do not keep a dog. Why there is no dog at Hochgobernitz. I always answer: Because there is no dog here."
"I always have a fever, Doctor, but it is the kind of fever the thermometer doesn't show."
"I have the idea," the prince said, "that we are writing letters, sending letters, and receiving letters, and that the signatures on all these letters are illegible. Who writes all these sent and received letters?"
"On railroad platforms, often, I am struck by the notion of throwing myself under the train at the last moment, but in big city toilets I find I am still curious after all."
"I am a person altogether hostile to kitchens."
- Vintage International, 2006 softcover
Monsieur Pain [+]
The Savage Detectives [+]
- Picador, 2011 softcover
Translated by Chris Andrews
What is friendship? I don't know. Perhaps it was something more, although when we met it was usually just to go for a walk and pass the time chatting about this and that, never broaching our feelings or political convictions, or at least not hers; I did almost all the talking, and much to my regret the conversations tended to revolve around my already somewhat distant youth, the Great War, in which I had fought, my interest in the occult sciences, and our common love of cats.
"It's like a modern art gallery," I heard Madame Reynaud murmur.
"The corridors are circular, in fact," I said. "If they were longer we could reach the top story without ever having noticed the climb."
"Like the leaning tower of Pisa," commented Madame Vallejo.
It was not an apt analogy, but I didn't want to contradict her.
"Actually," said the dark one, "I have no idea what the waiter's called; we call them all Gaston, and if one of us is right, if the waiter really is called Gaston, the other one has to pay for the meal, you see?"
"No, I don't. No one can win with that system." The dark one looked at me, perplexed. "If you and your friend both call all the waiters Gaston, you obviously both win or both lose. One of you should call them Gaston and the other... Raoul."
The dark one thought for a moment, then nodded several times.
"You're right. Maybe our system is too perfect. You have read Newton, of course."
I didn't answer.
I tried to read, but found the mere activity repellent. Madame Reynaud's presence was still quivering in the air of the apartment. At one point, I remember throwing the book at the wall, but not in anger.
I examined her carefully for the first time. Her face seemed to be undergoing a gradual transformation. Now it combined the features of a guard dog and the fearfully anticipated prostitute of my adolescent fantasies.
The aide came out from behind the counter, moved smoothly to where I was standing, and told me, in a harsh Brittany accent, to be reasonable and follow him.
With all the resolve I could muster, I tried to ignore him. I think I failed.
The Skating Rink [+]
- Unknown edition
Translated by Natasha Wimmer
You won't believe this, but he used to shower with a book. I swear. He read in the shower. How do I know? [...] One day I noticed that he went into the bathroom with a dry book and when he came out the book was wet. That day my curiosity got the better of me. I went up to him and pulled the book away from him. Not only was the cover wet, some of the pages were too, and so were the notes in the margins, some maybe even written under the spray, the water making the ink run, and then I said, for God's sake, I can't believe it, you read in the shower! have you gone crazy? and he said he couldn't help it but at least he only read poetry.
And after screwing, mi general liked to go out into the courtyard to smoke a cigarette and think about postcoital sadness, that vexing sadness of the flesh, and about all the books he hadn't read.
Woes Of The True Policeman [+]
- Picador, 2010 hardcover
Translated by Chris Andrews
The air was so dense that when I raised my arm I felt as if I was plunging it into a living, semi-solid mass, as if it was bound in hundreds of damp leather bracelets charged with electricity. Raising both arms, like a signaler on an aircraft carrier, felt like anally and vaginally penetrating some atmospheric hallucination or extraterrestrial creature.
Sometimes in the mornings, when I'm having breakfast on my own, I think I would have loved to be a detective.
My ex-wife often does oddball things [...]: talking as if she had Down syndrome, or like the evil child in a movie, pretending her feet are frogs and speaking for them as she wiggles her toes: Hi, I'm a frog, how are you? Actually, come to think of it, most of the women I've known could turn certain parts of their body (hands, feet, knees, navels, etc) into frogs, or elephants, or chickens that went cluck cluck and then pecked, know-it-all snakes, white crows, spiders, wayward kangaroos, when they weren't transforming their whole selves into lionesses, vampires, dolphins, eagles, mummies or hunchbacks of Notre Dame.
- Picador, 2014 softcover
Translated by Natasha Wimmer
"Look at the plants and trees," [Guerra] said with a sigh, "and you'll begin to understand this country."
"They're impressive," said Amalfitano as he wondered what kind of person Guerra was.
"Here you have all kinds of agave and mesquite, our native plant," said Guerra, making a sweeping gesture.
"Amalfitano heard the song of a bird: it was a shrill sound, as if the bird were being strangled.
"Various species of cactus, like the giant pitahaya (Cereus pitajaya), the organ pipes, which are a different species of cereus, and the prickly pears, so delicious."
Guerra filled his lungs with air.
"That's a Cereus Pringlei from Sonora, quite a night-bloomer if you look closely."
"Yes, indeed," said Amalfitano.
"There to the left is the yucca, beautiful without being showy, wouldn't you say? and here is the divine Agave atrovirens, the source of pulque, which is a brew you should try, though make sure you don't get hooked, sir, heh heh. Life is hard. Just think: if Mexico could export pulque, we'd give the whiskey, cognac, and wine makers of the goddamn world a run for their money. But pulque ferments too fast and can't be bottled, so there you have it."
"I'll try it," promised Amalfitano.
"That's the spirit," said Guerra, "one of these days we'll go to a pulqueria. You'd better come with me. Don't even think of going alone, eh? No giving in to temptation."
A gardener went by with a sack of dirt and he waved to them. Professor Guerra began to walk backwards.
There was nothing more important than ceaseless reading and traveling.
Faced with the impossibility of telling her what he really wanted to say, he launched into a garbled by scrupulously truthful account of his latest basketball game. It's like an absurdist poem, thought Rosa when she read the postcard.
In a nutshell, she wrote at the end of [her] letter, she was happy and life couldn't be better. In this sense, she confessed, I'm a little like Candide, and my teacher, Pangloss, is this fascinating part of Mexico.
Much later, while his parents were sleeping, he got out of bed naked, and with measured steps, as if he were on a phantom basketball court, he headed for his father's library and searched until he found a Spanish translation of Candide.
For a while he knelt there on the rug in the library, rocking sightly back and forth with his five senses elsewhere. Have I fallen in love with you? he thought. Am I falling in love? And if I am, what can I do about it? I don't know how to write letters. I'm doomed.
(Page 113–114, 116)
He was with his wife until her death, at 3:45 A.M., while in the next bed a middle-aged Brazilian woman dreamed out loud about a crocodile, a mechanical crocodile chasing a girl over a hill of ashes.
- Picador, 2011 softcover
The Sheltering Sky [+]
- Harper Perennial, ? ebook
"Suffering is equally divided among all men [...]" Emotionally he felt that this last idea was untrue, but at the moment it was a necessary belief: it is not always easy to support the stares of hungry people. Thinking that way he could walk on through the streets. It was as if either he or they did not exist. Both suppositions were possible.
Even though now he saw clearly that [the masses'] formulas of thought and speech are as strict and as patterned, and thus as far removed from any profound expression of truth as those of any other class, often he found himself still in the act of waiting, with the unreasoning belief that gems of wisdom might yet issue from their mouths. As he walked along, his nervousness was made manifest to him by the sudden consciousness that he was repeatedly tracing rapid figure-eights with his right index finger. He sighed and made himself stop doing it.
He abandoned himself to the perverse pleasure he found in continuing mechanically to put one foot in front of the other, even though he was quite clearly aware of his fatigue.
There was nothing to hear but an occasional cockcrow, like the highest part of a repeated melody whose other notes were inaudible.
"You know," said Port, and his voice sounded unreal, as voices are likely to do after a long pause in an utterly silent spot, "the sky here's very strange. I often have the sensation when I look at it that it’s a solid thing up there, protecting us from what's behind."
Kit shuddered slightly as she said: "From what's behind?"
"But what is behind?" Her voice was very small.
"Nothing, I suppose. Just darkness. Absolute night."
They both had made the fatal error of coming hazily to regard time as non-existent. One year was like another year. Eventually everything would happen.
Then for a few hours the idea of his actually writing a book had amused him. A journal, filled in each evening with the day's thoughts, carefully seasoned with local color, in which the absolute truth of the theorem he would set forth in the beginning—namely, that the difference between something and nothing is nothing—should be clearly and calmly demonstrated.
As long as he was living his life, he could not write about it.
- Bradbury, Ray
- Brecht, Bertolt
- Brown, Dan
- Brown, Jeffery
Ham On Rye [+]
- Virgin Books, 2009 softcover
Frankly, I was horrified by life, at what a man had to do simply in order to eat, sleep, and keep himself clothed.
The sun was tired, and some of the cars went east and some of the cars went west, and it dawned on me that if everybody would only drive in the same direction everything would be solved.
I was sitting there pretending to count the incoming pants when suddenly I came across something special. There was electricity in the fabric, it clung to my fingers and would not let go. Somebody had finally done something interesting. I examined the fabric. It looked as magical as it felt.
"It would cut down on theft if each employee was given one live lobster to take home each night in a specially constructed cage that could be carried on buses and street cars."
Post Office [+]
- Black Sparrow Press, 1982 hardcover
We drew cartoons. About cannibals. His cartoons were about troubles with cannibals and then I'd continue the cartoon story where his left off, about the troubles with the cannibals.
Across from me sat a man who had something wrong with his nose. It was very red and very raw and very fat and long and it was growing upon itself. You could see where section had grown upon section. Something had irritated the man's nose and it had just started growing.[...] But the man seemed very comfortable. He was fat and sat there almost asleep.
They called him first: "Mr. Sleeth?"
He moved forward a bit in his chair.
"Sleeth? Richard Sleeth?"
"Uh? Yes, I'm here ..."
"Miss Ackerman, what ever happened to that man with the big nose? The nose that kept growing?"
"The man with the big nose."
"That was Mr. Sleeth."
"I don't see him anymore. Did he get cured?"
"You mean he died from that big nose?"
(Pages 133, 143)
Turgenev was a very serious fellow but he could make me laugh because a truth first encountered can be very funny. When someone else's truth is the same as your truth, and he seems to be saying it just for you, that's great.
He got up and walked off with the girls. I closed my eyes and listened to the waves. Thousands of fish out there, eating each other. Endless mouths and assholes swallowing and shitting. The whole earth was nothing but mouths and assholes swallowing and shitting, and fucking.
The problem was you had to keep choosing between one evil or another, and no matter what you chose, they sliced a little bit more off you, until there was nothing left. At the age of 25 most people were finished. A whole god-damned nation of assholes driving automobiles, eating, having babies, doing everything in the worst way possible, like voting for the presidential candidate who reminded them most of themselves.
- Ecco, 2002 softcover
I went around to the side of the church and found a stairway going down. I went in through an open door. Do you know what I saw? A row of toilets. And showers. But it was dark. All the lights were out. How in hell can they expect a man to find a mailbox in the dark? Then I saw the light switch. I threw the thing and the lights in the church went on, inside and out. I walked into the next room and there were priests' robes spread out on the table. There was a bottle of wine.
For Christ's sake, I thought, who in hell but me would ever get caught in a scene like this?
I picked up the bottle of wine, had a good drag, left the letters on the robes, and walked back to the showers and toilets. I turned off the light and took a shit in the dark and smoked a cigarette. I thought about taking a shower but I could see the headlines: MAILMAN CAUGHT DRINKING THE BLOOD OF GOD AND TAKING A SHOWER, NAKED, IN ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.
It was in the west end of town and in the west the land was very flat, the drainage system couldn't handle the water and anytime it rained any length of time at all, they had what was called a "flood." The description was accurate.
At the time I was getting numerous traffic citations. It seemed that everytime I looked into the rear view mirror there were the red lights. A squad car or a bike.
Then, I set the post office on fire.
I had been sent to third-class papers and was smoking a cigar, working a stack of mail off of a hand truck when some guy came by and said, "HEY, YOUR MAIL IS ON FIRE!"
I looked around. There it was. A small flame was starting to stand up like a dancing snake. Evidently part of a buching cigar ash had falledn in there earlier.
The flame grew rapidly. I took a catalogue and, holding it flat, I beat the shit out of it. Sparks flew. It was hot. As soon as I put out one section, another caught up.
I heard a voice:
"Hey! I smell fire!"
"YOU DON'T SMELL FIRE," I yelled, "YOU SMELL SMOKE!"
- Virgin Books, 2009 softcover
Was Celine Celine or was he somebody else? Sometimes I felt that I didn't even know who I was. All right, I'm Nick Belane. But check this. Somebody could yell out, "Hey, Harry! Harry Martel!" and I'd most likely answer, "Yeah, what is it?" I mean, I could be anybody, what does it matter? What's in a name?
My feet looked good moving along the pavement.
I awakened depressed. I looked up at the ceiling, at the cracks in the ceiling. I saw a buffalo running over something. I think it was me.
Then the phone rang. I picked it up just like a normal person would pick up a telephone.
"Don't I get a receipt?"
"What'll it be, honey?" her voice grated.
"Two bottles of beer. No glass."
"Two bottles, honey?"
"Two bottles of Chinese beer. No glass."
"Can I ask you something?"
"You gonna drink both those beers?"
"I hope so."
"Then why don't you drink one, then order another? Stay cold that way."
"I just want to do it this way. There's a reason, I guess."
"You find out that reason, honey, you tell me ..."
"Why should I tell you? Maybe I want to keep it to myself."
"Sir, you know, we don't have to serve you. We reserve the right to refuse service to anybody."
"You mean, you won't serve me because I'm ordering two Chinese beers and not telling you why?"
"I didn't say we wouldn't serve you. I said we reserve the right not to."
A big guy in a dirty white apron walked up.
"What's the trouble here, Betty?"
"This guy wants two bottles of Chinese beer. Without a glass."
"Betty, he's probably waiting for a friend."
"He doesn't have a friend, Blinky."
Blinky looked at me. He was another big fat guy. He was two big fat guys.
"Don't you have a friend?" he asked me.
"No," I answered.
"Then what do you want with two bottles of Chinese beer?"
"I want to drink them."
"Why don't you order one, finish it, then order another?"
"I'd rather do it this way."
"I never heard of that," said Blinky.
"Why can't I do it? Is it against the law?"
"No, it's just strange, that's all."
- ?, ? audiobook
"I know your tragedy!"
"I told them that when I was in good spiritual shape I ate off one dish and then washed it immediately."
When stress and madness were eliminated from my daily life there wasn't much left you could depend on.
The Master And Margarita [+]
- Unknown edition
Translated by Karpelson
Meanwhile, the sparrow perched on an inkwell the professor had received as a gift and befouled it (I'm not kidding). Then the bird flew up, froze in the air, and, accelerating towards the photograph of the university graduating class of '94, rammed the glass with a steel-like beak and shattered it into tiny pieces before flying out the window. The professor changed his mind and dialed the medical leech supply bureau, stated that he was Professor Kuzmin, and asked for an urgent delivery of leeches to his house.
He instantly fashioned a dubious-looking telephone from two twigs and demanded that someone send a car this minute. His order was carried out, literally, right that minute.
The black avian chauffeur removed the front right wheel of the car in midair, then landed the car in some completely deserted cemetery near Dorogomilovo. Leaving the unquestioning Margarita and her broom near one of the gravestones, the rook aimed the car straight into a ravine past the cemetery. It crashed loudly and was destroyed. The rook saluted politely, hopped atop the remaining wheel, and flew away.
"I am told a certain man once managed to instantly turn his new three-room apartment on Zemlianoy Val into a four-room apartment, without resorting to the fifth dimension or any other mind-boggling concepts. He merely divided one of the rooms with a partition."
"Actually, I do happen to resemble a hallucination. Kindly note my silhouette in the moonlight." The cat climbed into the shaft of moonlight and wanted to keep talking but was asked to be quiet. "Very well, I shall be silent," he replied, "I shall be a silent hallucination."
- Unknown edition
- Buzzati, Dino
Letters To Emma Bowlcut [+]
- Drag City, 2010 softcover
One of my favorite things of all time is when an animal keeps company with a different species. It's often a duck. Maybe you should get a duck for that library you work in. No one would complain. Ducks belong in libraries.
I have a theory that feet should not be different temperatures, that it causes upset and even illness. In the winter, if I can only find one sock, I wear none.
Sometimes the weekend comes too soon. You don't get a chance to miss your friends.
You ought to write me about what you're going to write me about and some other stuff, too.
I'm reading a book where everyone calls each other fat.
I asked my neighbor, Do you know what those birds are that are everywhere, are they eagles. She said, No, those are grackles. They're like crows. They're pests. I said, I'm talking about the birds with the four foot wingspan. She said, No, I don't know what you're talking about.
The elfin doc asked what I wanted out of life. I said, One of those big desk blotter calendar things. Because I've wanted one for about twenty years and never gotten around to buying one. [...] The doc brought me one minutes later. I started to enter information I'd been carrying on various scraps of paper. Half the dates had passed. But I was so excited about having the calendar that I entered the expired events, too.
The Path To The Spiders' Nest [+]
- Vintage, 1998 softcover
Translated by Archibald Colquhoun
"These places are mine, down here. Magic places. Spiders make their nests here."
"Do spiders make nests, Pin?"
"This is the only place in the whole world where they do," explains Pin, "and I'm the only person who knows it."
- Vintage, 1998 softcover
- Camus, Albert
- Card, Orson Scott
- Carroll, Lewis
- Cather, Willa
Journey To The End Of The Night [+]
- New Directions, 2006 softcover
Translated by Ralph Manheim
He had the same trouble as all intellectuals—he was ineffectual. He knew too many things, and they confused him. He needed all sorts of gimmicks to steam him up, help him make up his mind.
Whenever you get to a new place, certain ambitions turn up inside you. My ambition was to be sick, just plain sick. Every man to his taste. I walked around those promising hospital pavilions, so doleful, withdraw, and unmolested, and I never relinquished their antiseptic charm without regret.
There's something sad about people going to bed. You can see they don't give a damn whether they're getting what they want out of life or not, you can see they don't even try to understand what we're here for. They just don't care.
She had read every available book on child care, especially the ones that go into a lyrical swoon about motherhood, those books that cure you, if you really assimilate them, of all desire to copulate for ever and ever. Every virtue has its contemptible literature.
But it was too late to start being young again. I didn't believe in it anymore. We grow old so quickly and, what's more, irremediably. You can tell by the way you start loving your misery in spite of yourself.
"Ferdinand," he said. "I recognized you right away. By the way you got into the car ... By the sad look on your face when you saw there were no women on board. Am I right? Isn't that your style?" He was right, it was my style. Unquestionably, my soul was as obscene as an open fly.
Nowadays people are so bored that artists have been posted everywhere as a precaution.
Deep in thought, you catch yourself eating burnt almonds ad infinitum.
At the station we took second-class tickets. Even so, the compartment smelled strongly of sausage, just the same as third class.
"Do you know what he said to me the other day? ..."
"No, sir ..."
"Well, here's what he said: 'Between the penis and mathematics, Monsieur Baryton, there's nothing! A vacuum!'"
- New Directions, 2006 softcover
The Yiddish Policemen's Union [+]
- HarperCollins, 2007 hardcover
"Look at the head on that sheygets, the thing has its own atmosphere," Landsman says. "Thing has ice caps."
"Indeed the man has a very big head."
"Every time I see it, I feel sorry for necks."
"Maybe I should get my hands around his. Give it some support."
- Chekhov, Anton
- Chesterton, G. K.
Coetzee, J. M.
Slow Man [+]
- Penguin Books, 2006 softcover
As a child, he remembers, he was told the story of a woman who in a moment of absent-mindedness stuck a tiny sewing needle into the palm of her hand. Unnoticed, the needle climbed up the woman's veins and in the fullness of time pierced her heart and killed her. The story was presented to him as a caution against treating needles carelessly.
Losing a leg is not a tragedy. On the contrary, losing a leg is comic. Otherwise we would not have so many jokes on the subject.
- Colfer, Eoin
- Conrad, Joseph
- Crummey, Michael
- Dahl, Roald
- Defoe, Gideon
- Desai, Kiran
Dick, Philip K.
Martian Time-Slip [+]
The Man In The High Castle [+]
- Gollancz, 1999 softcover
The children had a large-eyed, haunted look, as if they were starved for something as yet invisible. They tended to become reclusive, if given half a chance, wandering off to poke about in the wastelands. [...] When he flew by 'copter, Arnie always spotted some isolated children, one here and another there, toiling away out in the desert, scratching at the rock and sand as if trying to vaguely pry up the surface of Mars and get underneath.
The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldrich [+]
- First Vintage Books, 1992 softcover
I have to get out of here; I am having an attack. My body is throwing up things or spurting them out—I am dying.
[This entire segment is absolutely fantastic.]
- Jonathan Cape, 1966 hardcover
He felt irritable, as if he had drunk too many cups of coffee.
It looked a little like a lean, famished old grandmother on all fours and he realized that this was probably the jackal-creature which he had been earned repeatedly about. In any case, whatever it was, it obviously hadn't fed in days; it eyed him ravenously, while keeping its distance—and then, projected telepathically, its thoughts reached him. So he was right. This was it.
"May I eat you?" it asked. And panted, avidly slack-jawed.
- Dickens, Charles
Notes From Underground [+]
The Idiot [+]
- First Vintage Classics, 1994 softcover
Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky
I am a sick man... I am a wicked man. An unattractive man. I think my liver hurts.
But what's to be done if the sole and express purpose of every intelligent man is babble—that is, a deliberate pouring from empty into void.
I, for example, sincerely despised my service employment, and if I didn't go around spitting, it was only out of necessity.
Once, passing at night by some wretched little tavern, I saw through the lighted window some gentlemen fighting with their cues around the billiard table and one of them being chucked out the window. At another time I would have been filled with loathing; but one of those moments suddenly came over me, and I envied this chucked-out gentleman, envied him so much that I even went into the tavern, into the billiard room: "Perhaps I, too, will fight," I thought, "and get chucked out the window myself." [...] I proved incapable even of jumping out the window and left without having had any fight.
I was so used to thinking and imagining everything from books, and to picturing everything in the world to myself as I had devised it beforehand in my dreams, that at first I didn't even understand this strange circumstance.
- Wordsworth Editions Limited, 1999 softcover
Translated by Constance Garnett
"Can one exist with such a name as Ferdyshtchenko? Eh?"
"Two years ago—yes, nearly two, just after the opening of the new X. railway—I was already in civilian dress then and busy about an affair of great importance in connection with my giving up the service. I took a first-class ticket, went in, sat down and began to smoke. Or rather I went on smoking; I had lighted my cigar before. I was alone in the compartment. Smoking was not prohibited, nor was it allowed; it was sort of half allowed, as it usually is. Of course it depends on the person. The window was down. Just before the whistle sounded, two ladies with a lap-dog seated themselves just opposite me. They were late. One of them was dressed in gorgeous style in light blue; the other more soberly in black silk with a cape. They were nice-looking, had a disdainful air, and talked English. I took no notice, of course, and went in smoking. I did hesitate, but went on smoking close to the window for the window was open. The lap-dog was lying on the pale blue lady's knee. It was a tiny creature no bigger than my fist, black with white paws, quite a curiosity. It had a silver collar with a motto on it. I did nothing. But I noticed the ladies seemed annoyed, at my cigar, no doubt. One of them stared at my through her tortoise-shell lorgnette. I did nothing again, for they said nothing. If they'd said anything, warned me, asked me—there is such a thing as language after all! But they were silent... Suddenly, without the slightest preface—I assure you without the slightest, as though she had suddenly taken leave of her senses—the pale blue one snatched the cigar out of my hand and flung it out of the window. The train was racing along. I gazed at her aghast. A savage woman, yes, positively a woman of quite a savage type; yet a plump, comfortable looking, tall, fair woman, with rosy cheeks (too rosy, in fact). Her eyes glared at me. Without uttering a word and with extraordinary courtesy, the most perfect, the most refined courtesy, I delicately picked up the lap-dog by the collar in two finger and flung it out of the window after the cigar! It uttered one squeal. The train was still racing on."
Young ladies have only to crop their hair, put on blue spectacles, and dub themselves Nihilists, to persuade themselves at once that they have immediately gained "convictions" of their own.
Kolya explained that the hedgehog was not his; that he was out for a walk with a schoolfellow, Kostya Lebedyev, who had stayed in the street and was too shy to come in, because he was carrying a hatchet; that they had just bought the hedgehog and the hatchet from a peasant they had met. The peasant had sold them the hedgehog for fifty kopecks, and they had persuaded him to sell the hatchet, too, because "he might just as well," and it was a very good hatchet. [...] He gave way and summoned Kostya Lebedyev, who did in fact come in carrying a hatchet and very much abashed. But then it had suddenly appeared that the hedgehog was not theirs at all, but belonged to another, a third boy, called Petrov, who had given the two of them money to buy Schlosser's "History" for him from a fourth boy, which, the latter, being in want of money, was selling cheap; that they had been going to buy Schlosser's "History," but they hadn't been able to resist buying the hedgehog, so that it followed that the hedgehog and the hatchet belonged to the third boy, to whom they were carrying them instead of Schlosser's "History."
- First Vintage Classics, 1994 softcover
- Doyle, Arthur Conan
- Dumas, Alexandre, Father
- Eliot, George
- Farmer, Nancy
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
Tender Is The Night [+]
The Great Gatsby [+]
- Wordsworth Classics, 2011 softcover
Presently Dick came out of his one-room house carrying a telescope and looked east towards Cannes. In a moment Nicole swam into his field of vision, whereupon he disappeared into his house and came out with a megaphone. He had many light mechanical devices.
"Nicole," he shouted, "I forgot to tell you that as a final apostolic gesture I invited Mrs Abrams, the woman with the white har."
"I suspected it. It's an outrage."
The ease with which her reply reached him seemed to belittle his megaphone, so she raised her voice and called, "Can you hear me?"
"Yes." He lowered the megaphone and then raised it stubbornly. "I'm going to invite some more people too. I'm going to invite the two young men."
"All right," she agree placidly.
"I want to give a really bad party. I mean it. I want to give a party where there's a brawl and seductions and people going home with their feelings hurt and women passed out in the cabinet de toilette. You wait and see."
Abe North was talking to her about his moral code: "Of course I've got one," he insisted, "—a man can't live without a moral code. Mine is that I'm against the burning of witches. Whenever they burn a witch I get all hot under the collar."
You know how conversations are in cars late at night, some people murmuring and some not caring, giving up after the party, or bored or asleep.
He went to the mail desk first—as the woman who served him pushed up with her bosom a piece of paper that had nearly escaped the desk, he thought how differently women use their bodies from men.
"Oh, I see. Well—" he rearranged the flow of his own saliva, the pulse of his heart. "I hope she feels better. Thanks."
This Side Of Paradise [+]
- Scribner, 2004 softcover
A stout, middle-aged man, with enormous owl-eyed spectacles, was sitting somewhat drunk on the edge of a great table, staring with unsteady concentration at the shelves of books. [...]
"What do you think?" he demanded impetuously.
He waved his hands at the book-shelves.
"About that. As a matter of fact you needn't bother to ascertain. I ascertained. They're real."
"Absolutely real—have pages and everything. I thought they'd be a nice durable cardboard. Matter of fact, they're absolutely real. Pages and—Here! Lemme show you."
Taking our scepticism for granted, he rushed to the bookcases and returned with Volume One of the "Stoddard Lectures."
"See!" he cried triumphantly. "It's a bona-fide piece of printed matter. [...] I've been drunk for about a week now, and I thought it might sober me up to sit in a library."
"A little bit, I think. I can't tell yet. I've only been here an hour. Did I tell you about the books? They're real. They're—"
"You told us."
A maid began opening the upper windows of his house, appeared momentarily in each, and, leaning from a large central bay, spat meditatively into the garden.
- Dover Thrift, 1996 softcover
"Oh, God!" he cried suddenly, and started at the sound of his voice in the stillness. The rain dripped on. A minute longer he lay without moving, his hands clinched. Then he sprang to his feet and gave his clothes a tentative pat.
"I'm very damn wet!" he said aloud to the sundial.
"He has no faith in that rot. He doesn't believe that public swimming-pools and a kind word in time will right the wrongs of the world; moreover, he takes a drink whenever he feels like it."
His mind wandered to some place in a book where the hero, after preserving for a year a cake of his lost love's soap, finally washed his hands with it.
"Oh, Lord, what a pleasure it used to be to dream I might be a really great dictator or writer or religious or political leader—and now even a Leonardo da Vinci or Lorenzo de Medici couldn't be a real old-fashioned bold in the world. Life is too huge and complex. The world is so overgrown that it can't lift its own fingers, and I was planning to be such an important finger—"
"My Lord, no man can stand prominence these days. It's the surest path to obscurity. People get sick of hearing the same name over and over."
"We want to believe. Young students try to believe in older authors, constituents try to believe in their Congressmen, countries try to believe in their statesmen, but they can't. Too many voices, too much scattered, illogical, ill-considered criticism. It's worse in the case of newspapers. Any rich, unprogressive old party with that particularly grasping, acquisitive form of mentality known as financial genius can own a paper that is the intellectual meat and drink of thousands of tired, hurried men, men too involved in the business of modern living to swallow anything but predigested food. For two cents the voter buys his politics, prejudices, and philosophy. A year later there is a new political ring or a change in the paper's ownership, consequence: confusion, more contradiction, a sudden inrush of new ideas, their tempering, their distillation, the reaction against them—"
"Every author ought to write every book as if he were going to be beheaded the day he finished it."
Question.—Well, what's the situation?
Answer.—That I have about twenty-four dollars to my name.
Q.—You have the Lake Geneva estate.
A.—But I intend to keep it.
Q.—Can you live?
A.—I can't imagine not being able to. People make money in books and I've found that I can always do the things that people do in books. Really they are the only things I can do.
A.—I don't know what I'll do—nor have I much curiosity. Tomorrow I'm going to leave New York for good. It's a bad town unless you're on top of it.
Q.—Do you want a lot of money?
A.—No. I am merely afraid of being poor.
A.—Just passively afraid.
Q.—Where are you drifting?
A.—Don't ask me!
Q.—Don't you care?
A.—Rather. I don't want to commit to moral suicide.
Q.—Have you no interests left?
A.—None. I've no more virtue to lose. Just as a cooling pot gives off heat, so all through youth and adolescence we give off calories of virtue. That's what's called ingenuousness.
Q.—An interesting idea.
A.—That's why a "good man going wrong" attracts people. They stand around and literally warm themselves at the calories of virtue he gives off. Sarah makes an unsophisticated remark and the faces simper in delight—"How innocent the poor child is!" They're warming themselves at her virtue. But Sarah sees the simper and never makes that remark again. Only she feels a little colder after that.
Q.—All the calories gone?
A.—All of them. I'm beginning to warm myself at other people's virtue.
Q.—Are you corrupt?
A.—I think so. I'm not sure. I'm not sure about good and evil at all any more.
Q.—Is that a bad sign in itself?
Q.—What would be the test of corruption?
A.—Becoming really insincere—calling myself "not such a bad fellow," thinking I regretted my lost youth when I only envy the delights of losing it. Youth is like having a big plate of candy. Sentimentalists think they want to be in the pure, simple state they were in before they ate the candy. They don't. They just want the fun of eating it all over again. The matron doesn't want to repeat her girlhood—she wants to repeat her honeymoon. I don't want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again.
Q.—Where are you drifting?
"The idea that to make a man work you've got to hold gold in from of his eyes is a growth, not an axiom. We've done that for so long that we've forgotten there's any other way. We've made a world where that's necessary."
"I loathed the army. I loathed business. I'm in love with change and I've killed my conscience—"
"So you'll go along crying that we must go faster."
"That, at least, is true," Amory insisted. "Reform won't catch up to the needs of civilization unless it's made to. A laissez-faire policy is like spoiling a child by saying he'll turn out all right in the end. He will—if he's made to."
"I simply state that I'm the product of a versatile mind in a restless generation."
Bouvard And Pecuchet [+]
- Dalkey Archive, 2012 softcover
Translated from French by Mark Polizzotti
To induce digestion artificially, they crammed meat into a vial filled with gastric juices from a duck, and they carried it under their armpits for two weeks, with no result other than infecting themselves.
They devised these three recommendations: first, replace family names with a registration number; second, make a hierarchy of all Frenchmen—and in order to retain one's ranking, one would occasionally have to take a qualifying exam; third, do away with punishments and rewards, but maintain an individual record in every village that would be handed down to posterity. Their system was ignored.
People will be expected to coat the sides of their houses with phosphorescent substance—and its radiance will light the streets.
- Dalkey Archive, 2012 softcover
- Foer, Jonathan Safran
- Forster, E. M.
- Fraser, George MacDonald
- Fry, Stephen
- Funke, Cornelia
- Gaarder, Jostein
- Gannett, Ruth Stiles
- Gibson, William
The Nose [+]
- Penguin Classics, 2015 softcover
Translated by Ronald Wilks
He [...] went off to the local Inspector of Police (a fanatical lover of sugar whose hall and dining room were crammed full of sugar cubes presented by merchants who wanted to keep well in with him).
As he entered the hall he saw his footman Ivan lying on a soiled leather couch spitting at the ceiling, managing to hit the same spot with a fair degree of success.
- Penguin Classics, 2015 softcover
- Golding, William
- Gombrowicz, Witold
Cat And Mouse [+]
- Signet, 1964 hardcover
Translated from German by Ralph Manheim
A cat sauntered diagonally across the field and no one threw anything at it.
He could draw very quickly, with or without models: sleighs surrounded by wolves, drunken Cossacks, Jews suggesting Der Sturmer, naked girls riding lions, in general lots of naked girls with long porcelainlike legs, but never smutty, Bolsheviks devouring babies, Hitler disguised as Charlemagne, race cars driven by ladies with long flowing scarves.
- Signet, 1964 hardcover
- Gurney, James
- Haddon, Mark
- Haggard, H. Rider
- Haldeman, Joe
- Hamill, Pete
Red Harvest [+]
The Glass Key [+]
- First Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, August 1992 softcover
"And if you don't yell maybe I'll be able to hear you anyway. My deafness is a lot better since I've been eating yeast."
A bullet kissed a hole in the door-frame close to my noodle.
- Vintage Books, 1989 softcover
She smiled then. "Surely you don't believe in dreams?"
He did not smile. "I don't believe in anything, but I'm too much of a gambler not to be affected by a lot of things."
"Set in any God-damned chair you want to set in," Jeff said with another large gesture. "If you don't like that one, take another. [...]"
"It's a swell chair," Ned Beaumont said.
"It's a hell of a chair," Jeff said. "There ain't a chair in the dump that's worth a damn. Look." He picked up a chair and tore one of its front legs out. "You call that a swell chair? Listen, Beaumont, you don't know a damned thing about chairs."
- Dover, 2003 softcover
Translated from Norwegian by George Egerton
"There was a time I knew every person in No. 2; what is your landlord's name?"
I quickly found a name to get rid of him; invented one on the spur of the moment, and blurted it out to stop my tormentor.
"Happolati!" said I.
"Happolati, ay!" nodded the man; and he never missed a syllable in this unusual name.
I looked at him with amazement; there he sat, gravely, with a considering air. Before I had well given utterance to the stupid name which jumped into my head, the man had accommodated himself to it, and pretended to have heard it before.
"Isn't he a sea-faring man, your landlord?" queried he, and the was not a trace of suppressed irony in his voice; "I seem to remember he was."
"Sea-faring man? Excuse me, it must be the brother you know; this man is namely J. A. Happolati, the agent."
I thought this would finish him; but he fell in willingly with everything I said. If I had found a name like Barabbas Rosebud it would not have roused his suspicions.
"He is an able man, I have heard?" said he, feeling his way.
"Oh, a clever fellow!" answered I; "a thorough business head; agent for every possible thing going. Cranberries from China; feathers and down from Russia; hides, pulp, writing-ink—"
This began to get interesting. The situation ran away with me, and one lie after another engendered in my head. [...]
Had he heard of the electric psalm-book that Happolati had invented?
"With electric letters that give out light in the dark! a perfectly extraordinary enterprise. A million crowns to be put in circulation; foundries and printing-presses at work, and shoals of regular mechanics to be employed; I had heard as manay as seven hundred men."
"Ay, isn't it just what I say?" drawled out the man, calmly.
[...] This disappointed me a little; I had expected to see him utterly bewildered by my inventions.
I searched my brain for a couple of desperate lies, went the whole hog, hinted that Happolati had been the Minister of State for nine years in Persia. "You perhaps have no conception of what it means to be the Minister of State in Persia?" I asked. It was more than a king [t]here, or about the same as a Sultan, if he know what that meant, but Happolati had managed the whole thing, and was never at a loss. And I related about his daughter Ylajali, a fairy, a princess, who had three hundred slaves, and who reclined on a couch of yellow roses. She was the loveliest creature I had ever seen; I had, may the Lord strike me, never seen her match for looks in my life!
"So-o; was she lovely?" remarked the old fellow, with an absent air, as he gazed at the groud.
At this moment the little man seemed about to go. He stretched himself, and in order not to break off too abruptly, added: "He is said to own a lot of property, this Happolati?"
How dared this bleary-eyed, disgusting old man toss about the rare name I had invented as if it were a common name stuck up over every huckster-shop in the town? He had never stumbled over a letter or forgot a syllable. The name had bitten fast in his brain and struck root on the instant. [...]
I therefore replied shortly, "I know nothing about that! I know absolutely nothing whatever about that! Let me inform you once and for all his name is Johann Arendt Happolati, if you go by his own initials."
"Johann Arendt Happolati!" repeated the man, a little astonished at my vehemencel and with that he grew silent.
"You should see his wife!" I said, beside myself. "A fatter creature ... Eh? what? Perhaps you don't even believe she is really fat?"
Well, indeed he did not see his way to deny that such a man might perhaps have a rather stout wife.
A little hole in the wall at the head of my bed occupies me greatly—a nail hole. I find the marks in the wall—I feel it, blow into it, and try to guess its depth. That was no innocent hole—not a bit of it. It was a downright intricate and mysterious hole, which I must guard against! Possessed by the thought of this hole, entirely beside myself with curiosity and fear, I get out of bed and, seizing hold of my half penknife in order to gauge its depth, convince myself that it does not reach right into the next wall.
I lay down once more to try to fall asleep, but in reality to wrestle again with the darkness. The rain had ceased outside, and I could not hear a sound. I continued for a long time to listen for footsteps in the street, and got no peace until I heard a pedestrian go by—to judge from the sound, a constable. Suddenly I snap my fingers many times and laugh: "This is the very deuce! Ha—ha!" I imagined I had discovered a new word. I rise up in bed and say, "It is not in the language; I have discovered it. 'Kuboa.' It has letters as a word has. By the behign God, man, you have discovered a word ... 'Kuboa' ... a word of profound import."
- Dover, 2003 softcover
- Handler, Daniel
- Hawkes, John
- Hawthorne, Nathaniel
- Heinlein, Robert A.
- Heller, Joseph
For Whom the Bell Tolls [+]
In Our Time [+]
- Scribner Classics, 1996 hardcover
"Halt. Who goes?" They heard a rifle bolt snick as it was drawn back and then the knock against the wood as it was pushed forward and down on the stock.
"Comrades," Anselmo said.
[...] "Dost thou not know us?"
"Yes," the voice said. "But it is an order. Have you the password?"
"No. We come from below."
"I know. [...] The order is not mine. You must know the second half of a password."
"What is the first half then?" Robert Jordan said.
"I have forgotten it," the man said in the dark and laughed. "Go then unprintably to the campfire with they obscene dynamite."
"That is guerilla discipline," Anselmo said. "Unlock thy piece."
"It is unlocked," the man said in the dark. "I let it down with my thumb and forefinger."
"Thou wilt do that with a Mauser sometime which has no knurl on the bolt and it will fire."
"This is a Mauser," the man said. "But I have a grip of a thumb and forefinger beyond description. Always I let it down that way."
"Where is the rifle pointed?" asked Anselmo into the dark.
"At thee," the man said, "all the time that I descended the bolt. And when thou comest to the camp, order that some one should relieve me because I have indescribable and unprintable hunger and I have forgotten the password. [...] I am called Augustin and I am dying of boredom in this spot."
"We will take the message," Robert Jordan said.
"I kiss thee as a brother. [...] I am thy sister," Maria said. "And I love thee and thou has a family."
"I am ashamed to have spoken," he said. [...]
"I obscenity in the milk of my shame," Pilar said in her deep lovely voice. "And if the Maria kisses thee again I will commence kissing thee myself. It's years since I've kissed a bullfighter, even an unsuccessful one like thee, I would like to kiss an unsuccessful bullfighter turned Communist."
"There is always something like that," the woman said. "There is always something like something that there should not be."
"Could we not hold him as a prisoner?" Fernando asked.
"We could sell him to the fascists," the gypsy said.
"None of that," Agustin said. "None of that filthiness."
"It was only an idea," Rafael, the gypsy, said.
"One moment," Fernando said. "I have not finished."
"The fascists would pay nothing for him anyway," Primitivo said. "Such things have been tried by others and they pay nothing. They will shoot thee too."
"I believe that blinded he could be sold for something," Rafael said.
"I have not been allowed to finish," Fernando interrupted.
"Finish," Pilar told him. "Go on. Finish."
"Since it is impractical to hold Pablo as a prisoner," Fernando commenced, "and since it is repugnant to offer him—"
"Finish," Pilar said. "For the love of God, finish."
"—in any class of negotiation," Fernando proceeded calmly, "I am agreed that it is perhaps the best that he should be eliminated in order that the operations projected should be insured of the maximum possibility of success."
Pilar looked at the little man, shook her head, bit her lips and said nothing.
"That is my opinion," Fernando said. "I believe we are justified in believing that he constitutes a danger to the Republic—"
"Mother of God," Pilar said. "Even here one man can make a bureaucracy with his mouth."
"Both from his own words and his recent actions," Fernando continued. "And while he is deserving of gratitude for his actions in the early part of the movement and up until the most recent time—"
Pilar had walked over to the fire. Now she came up ti the table.
"Fernando," Pilar said quietly and handed a bowl to him. "Take this stew please in all formality and fill thy mouth with it and talk no more. We are in possession of thy opinion."
"Below it there is the book fair where along the sidewalks there are hundred of booths with second-hand books in them and now, since the movement, there are many books, stolen in the looting of the houses which have been bombed and from the houses of the fascists, and brought to the book fair by those who stole them. I could spend all day every day at the stalls of the book fair."
The wind is small, he thought, and there is no sun. You have four grenades in your pocket but they are only good to throw away. You have a carbine on your back but it is only good to give away bullets. You have a message to give away. And you're full of crap that you can give to the earth, he grinned in the dark. You can anoint it also with urine. Everything you have is to give. Thou art a phenomenon of philosophy and an unfortunate man, he told himself and grinned again.
Islands In The Stream [+]
- Charles Scribner's Sons, 1958 softcover
He could not remember which way he made coffee. He could remember an argument about it with Hopkins, but not which side he had taken. He decided to bring it to a boil. He remembered now that was Hopkin's way. He had once argued about everything with Hopkins. While he waited for the coffee to boil, he opened a small can of apricots. He liked to open cans.
The Garden Of Eden [+]
- Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1997 softcover
"I'd like to buy a waterspout," Bobby said. "Damn big waterspout. Black as hell. Maybe better two waterspouts going roaring over the flats making a noise so you can't hear. Sucking all the water across and scare you to death. Me in the dinghy sponging and nothing I can do. Waterspout blow the water glass right out of my hand. Almost suck the dinghy up out of the water. God's own hell of a waterspout. How much would one like that cost?"
"Tom, boy, do you think you could paint a full hurricane? Paint her right in the eye of the storm when she's already blew from one side and calmed and just starting from the other? Put in everything from the Negroes lashed in the coconut palms to the ships blowing over the crest of the island? Put in the big hotel going. Put in two-by-fours sailing through the air like lances and dead pelicans blowing by like they were part of the gusts of rain. Have the glass down to twenty-seven and the wind velocities blown away. Have the sea breaking on the ten-fathom bar and the moon come out in the eye of the storm. Have a tidal wave come up and submerge every living thing. Have women blown out to sea with their clothes stripped from them by the wind. Have dead Negroes floating everywhere and flying through the air—"
"It's an awfully big canvas," Thomas Hudson said.
"To hell with the canvas!" Bobby said. "I'll get a mainsail off a schooner. We'll paint the greatest goddam pictures in the world and live throughout history. You've just been painting these little simple pictures."
"I'll start on the waterspouts," Thomas Hudson said.
He was affectionate and he had a sense of justice and was good company. He was also a Cartesian doubter and an avid arguer and he teased well and without meanness although sometimes he teased roughly.
"How long are you staying?" young Tom asked her.
"I don't know."
"How long is the yacht staying?" Roger asked.
"I don't know."
"What do you know?" Roger asked. "I mean it pleasantly."
"Not very much. What about you?"
"I think you're lovely, Roger said.
He sat in the deep comfortable chair and drank his drink and learned that you cannot read The New Yorker when people that you love have just died.
The New Yorker was very good, he thought. And it's evidently a magazine you can read on the fourth day after something happens. Not on the first or the second or the third. But the fourth. That was useful to know.
"Now we'll roll for this one," Ignacio Natera Revello said. He's the type of snob and bore that you always think of by all his three names, Thomas Hudson thought, just as you think of him as a snob and a bore. It's probably like people who put III after their names. Thomas Hudson the third. Thomas Hudson the turd.
"You're not Ignacio Natera Revello the third are you by any chance?"
The frapped part of the drink was like the wake of a ship and the clear part was the way the water looked when the bow cut it when you were in shallow water over marl bottom. That was almost the exact color.
"I wish they had a drink the color of sea water when you have a depth of eight hundred fathoms and there is a dead calm with the sun straight up and down and the sea full of plankton," he said.
"Nothing. Let's drink this shallow water drink."
My best friends that year were ten millionaires, all of whom I know only by their first two initials, H.M., M.Y., T.V., H.J., and so on. All important Chinese were known this way.
In the men's room a calm and noble Negro was reading a Rosicrucian pamphlet. He was working on the weekly lesson of the course he was taking. Thomas Hudson greeted him with dignity and his greeting was returned in kind.
"Quite a chilly day, sir," the attendant with the religious literature observed.
"It is indeed chilly," Thomas Hudson said. Then to the Alcalde Peor, who was having certain difficulties, "I belonged to a club in London once where half the members were trying to urinate and the other half were trying to stop."
"Very good," said the Alcalde Peor, complementing his chore. "What did they call it, El Club Mundial?"
"No. As a matter of fact, I've forgotten the name of it."
"You've forgotten the name of your club?"
"Yes. Why not?"
"I think we better go get another one. How much does this urination cost?"
"Whatever you wish, sir."
"Let me get them," Thomas Hudson said. "I love to buy them. It's like flowers."
"Could it have been the Royal Automobile Club?" the Negro asked, standing proffering a towel.
"It could not have been."
"I'm sorry, sir," the student of Rosicrucian said.
When they were scientists no weapons showed and they wore machetes and wide straw hats such as Bahaman spongers wear. [...] The larger they were the more scientific they were considered.
"Someone has stolen my scientific hat," a heavy-shouldered Basque with thick eyebrows that came together over his nose said. "Give me a bag of frags for science's sake."
"Take my scientific hat," another Basque said. "It's twice as scientific as yours."
"What a scientific hat," the widest of the Basques said. "I feel like Einstein in this one. Thomas, can we take specimens?"
"No," the man said. "Antonio knows what I want him to do. You keep your damned scientific eyes open."
"I'll look for water [...] That scientific stuff. Hey, you worthless scientist. You hat stealer. Give us four five-gallon jugs so we won't waste the trip."
The other Basque put four wicker-covered jugs in the dinghy.
The man heard them talking, "Don't hit me in the back with that damned scientific oar."
"I do it only for science."
"Fornicate science and his brother."
"I probably could have been a great ornithologist," Willie said. "Grandma used to raise chickens."
Tom had read about the ice age at school and he was afraid it would come again.
"Papa," he had said. "That is my only worry."
"I don't think we really have to worry about it," Thomas Hudson had said. "It's a dreadfully slow process if it comes."
"I know," young Tom had said. "But that's the only thing I ever really worry about. That and the extinction of the passenger pigeon."
The Sun Also Rises [+]
- Scribners, 1986 hardcover
"With this girl [...] he did not have the sudden deadly clarity that had always come after intercourse. That was gone."
You didn't work at all really. And you better soon because everything's going too fast and you're going with it and you'll be through before ever you know it. Maybe you're through now. All right. Don't start. At least you remember that much. And he walked on through the town, his vision sharpened by spleen and tempered by the ash beauty of the day.
"Who is the third drink for?"
"You really said it," David told her. "I'd never heard that word pronounced and I had absolutely no hope of ever hearing it in this life. You're wonderful."
"It's a perfectly common word."
"It is at that," David said. "But to have the sheer, naked courage to use it in a conversation. Devil, be good now. Couldn't you say 'your dusky paramour'?"
He had not known just how greatly he had been divided and separated because once he started to work he wrote from an inner core which could not be split nor even marked nor scratched. He knew about this and it was his strength since all the rest of him could be riven.
He went into their bedroom and put on the reading light on his side of the bed and made himself comfortable and read one of the W. H. Hudson books. It was Nature in Downland and he had taken it to read because it had the most unpromising title. He knew enough to know a time was coming when he'd need all the books and he was saving the best ones.
To Have And Have Not [+]
- Scribner Classics, 1996 softcover
I have a rotten habit of picturing the bedroom scenes of my friends.
I walked on behind a man who was pushing a roller that printed the name cinzano on the sidewalk in damp letters.
"Here's a taxidermist's," Bill said. "Want to buy anything? Nice stuffed dog?"
"Come on," I said. "You're pie-eyed."
"Pretty nice stuffed dogs," Bill said. "Certainly brighten up your flat."
"Just one stuffed dog. I can take 'em or leave 'em alone. But listen, Jake. Just one stuffed dog."
"Mean everything in the world to you after you bought it. Simple exchange of values. You give them money. They give you a stuffed dog."
"We'll get one on the way back."
"All right. Have it your own way. Road to hell paved with unbought stuffed dogs. Not my fault."
We went on.
"Listen. You're a hell of a good guy, and I'm fonder of you than anybody on earth. I couldn't tell you that in New York. It'd mean I was a faggot. That was what the Civil War was about. Abraham Lincoln was a faggot. He was in love with General Grant. So was Jefferson Davis. Lincoln just freed the slaves on a bet. The Dred Scott case was framed by the Anti-Saloon League. Sex explains it all. The Colonel's Lady and Judy O'Grady are Lesbians under their skin."
"Want to hear some more?"
He asked me how many times I had seen him in the ring. I told him only three. It was really only two, but I did not want to explain after I had made the mistake.
- Scribner, 2003 softcover
He hit him pretty hard a couple of times more, and then the rod bent double and the reel commenced to screech and out he came, boom, in a long straight jump, shining silver in the sun and making a splash like throwing a horse off a cliff.
"Good-by." she said, and he saw her face he always loved so much, that crying never spoiled, and her curly black hair, her small firm breasts under the sweater forward against the edge of the table, and he didn't see the rest of her that he'd loved so much and thought he had pleased, but evidently hadn't been any good to, that was all below the table, and as he went out the door she was looking at him across the table; and her chin was on her hands; and she was crying.
- Herbert, Frank
- Hesse, Hermann
- Hilton, James
- Hoeye, Michael
- Huxley, Aldous
- Ibsen, Henrik
The Remains Of The Day [+]
- Faber And Faber Limited, 1990 softcover
"What do you think dignity's all about?"
The directness of this inquiry did, I admit, take me rather by surprise. "It's a hard think to explain in a few words, sir," I said. "But I suspect it comes down to not removing one's clothing in public."
- Jacques, Brian
A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man [+]
- Unknown edition
Talked rapidly of myself and my plans. In the midst of it unluckily I made a sudden gesture of a revolutionary nature. I must have looked like a fellow throwing a handful of peas into the air. People began to look at us.
"Tell me, for example, would you deflower a virgin?" "Excuse me," Stephen said politely, "is that not the ambition of most young gentlemen?"
Cranly [...] took another fig from his pocket and was about to eat it when Stephen said: "Don't, please. You cannot discuss this question with your mouth full of chewed fig."
"That is horse piss and rotted straw," [Stephen] thought. "It is a good odour to breathe. It will calm my heart. My heart is quite calm now. I will go back."
- Unknown edition
Though his eyes took note of many elements of the crowd through which he passed they did so morosely. He found trivial all that was meant to charm him and did not answer the glances which invited him to be bold. He knew that he would have to speak a great deal, to invent and amuse, and his brain and throat were too dry for such a task.
(Two Gallants, Page ?)
"How much is a plate of peas?" he asked
"Three halfpence, sir" said the girl.
"Bring me a plate of peas," he said, "and a bottle of ginger beer."
(Two Gallants, Page ?)
"Well, Tommy," he said, "I wish you and yours every joy in life, old chap, and tons of money, and may you never die till I shoot you. And that's the wish of a sincere friend, and old friend. You know that?"
(A Little Cloud, Page ?)
The barometer of his emotional nature was set for a spell of riot.
(Counterparts, Page ?)
The Phantom Tollbooth [+]
- Random House Young Books, Inc., 1961 hardcover
And the crowd waved and cheered wildly, for, while they didn't care at all about anyone arriving, they were always very pleased to see someone go.
- Schocken Books, 1974 softcover
Translated by Will and Edwin Muir
At two great sliding windows sat two under-porters perpetually occupied in giving information on the most diverse subjects. [...] Mere talking would not have sufficed for their work; they gabbled, and one in particular, a gloomy man with a dark beard almost hiding his whole face, poured out information without even taking breath. He neither looked at the counter, where he was perpetually handing things out, nor at the face of this or that questioner, but straight in front of him, obviously to economise and conserve his strength. [...] Additionally confusing was the fact that one answer came so quickly on the heels of another as to be indistinguishable from it, so that often an enquirer went on listening intently, in the belief that his question was still being answered, without noticing for some time that his turn was past. You had also to get used to the under-porter's habit of never asking a question to be repeated; even if it was vague only in wording and quite sensible on the whole, he merely gave an almost imperceptible shake of the head to indicate that he did not intend to answer that question and it was the questioner's business to recognise his own error and formulate the question more correctly. [...] To help the under-porters, each of them was allotted a messenger boy, who had to rush to and fro bringing from a bookcase and various cupboards whatever the under-porter might need. [...] If they ever brought the wrong thing, the under-porter was too pressed, of course, to give them a long lecture; with one flip of the hand he simply knocked to the floor whatever they had laid on the counter. [...] At the relief hour a bell rang, and simultaneously there emerged from a side door the two under-porters whose turn had now come, each followed by his messenger boy. [...] When the moment seemed suitable for intervention, the new-comer would tap on the shoulder of the under-porter he was to relieve, who, although until now he had paid no attention to what was going on behind his back, at once responded and left his place. It all happened so quickly that it often surprised the people standing outside, and they almost jumped in alarm when a strange face popped up before them. The two men who were relieved stretched themselves and poured water over their hot heads at two wash-basins standing ready for them. But the messenger-boys could not stretch themselves so soon, being kept busy for a little longer picking up and returning to their places the various objects which had been flung on the floor during their shift.
- Schocken Books, 1974 softcover
On The Road [+]
- Viking Press, 1972 softcover
He reminisced about his recent trip to France. "Ah, Sal, if you could sit with me high in the Basque country with a cool bottle of Poignon Dix-neuf, then you'd know there are other things besides boxcars."
"I know that. It's just that I love boxcars"
And on, on into the night they talked like this. At dawn I looked up. They were tying up the last of the morning's matters. "When I said to you that I had to sleep because of Marylou, that is, seeing her this morning at ten, I didn't bring my peremptory tone to bear in regard to what you'd just said about the unnecessariness of sleep but only, only, mind you, because of the fact that I absolutely, simply, purely and without any whatevers have to sleep now, I mean, man, my eyes are closing, they're redhot, sore, tired, beat . . ."
"Ah, child," said Carlo.
"We'll just have to sleep now. Let's stop the machine."
"You can't stop the machine!" yelled Carlo at the top of his voice. The first birds sang.
"Now, when I raise my hand," said Dean, "we'll stop talking, we'll both understand purely and without any hassle that we are simply stopping talking, and we'll just sleep."
"You can't stop the machine like that."
"Stop the machine," I said. They looked at me.
"He's been awake all this time, listening. What were you thinking, Sal?" I told them that I was thinking they were very amazing maniacs and that I had spent the whole night listening to them like a man watching the mechanism of a watch that reached clear to the top of Berthoud Pass and yet was made with the smallest works of the most delicate watch in the world. They smiled. I pointed my finger at them and said, "If you keep this up you'll both go crazy, but let me know what happens as you go along."
Lucille would never understand me because I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till I drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.
- Kesey, Ken
- Keyes, Daniel
- King, Stephen
- Kipling, Rudyard
- Knowles, John
- Koestler, Arthur
- Konigsburg, E. L.
- The Dalkey Archive, 2002 softcover
Ten minutes later, the doorbell rand and a middle-aged man with "Leo" written in a red oval over the left pocket of his blue work shirt stood in front of me, wheezing. As he wheezed, he rocked slightly from side to side, not like a tall tree exactly, but more like a bush about to topple. And like many a bush, there was something oddly likable about him.
Suppose that by the time she returned to town and we got together she was no longer the person I remembered. So, to be sure my memory would be fresh the next time I met her, I spent the afternoon thinking about her.
Emily chose that very moment to seize a strand of my hair and twist it around her finger to wring out the salty water.
Then she snapped out of it. "I'm sorry," she said. "I kind of lost track of where I was, and for some reason I fell back into a time when I was growing up, when on summer evenings our house was often surrounded by stern-faced men, standing in groups of twos and threes, smoking cigars." She let drop the part of my hair she'd been wrapping around her finger.
I assured her I didn't mind her drifting off, that I'd been known to do it myself, but the hair business had started to get painful.
"I'm really sorry," Emily said, "but let me continue. At first I thought this was more or less normal. Believe it or not, I thought that all over Minnesota, at about eight at night every house was surrounded by men, puffing away, although it was true I had never actually heard anyone talk about it. Then one day in the second grade, when I was on my first sleepover, I asked my friend, a little blond girl with a sty in her left eye, where the men with cigars were that night, and what she thought had delayed them. My friend looked at me strangely. 'Are you nuts?' she lisped."
Finally, I reflected, I would be able to hear her voice, and listen to her breath once again, and maybe, if everything was very quiet and when she picked up the receiver, I would be able to detect the actual beat of her heart when, surprised by hearing my voice after all these years, she would press it to her breast for a moment to gain control of her emotions.
- Lee, Harper
- Lem, Stanislaw
Short Stories [+]
- 1: Penguin Modern Classics, 2008 softcover, translated by Ann Goldstein and Alessandra Bastagli
He spent his summer as a shepherd—not a shepherd of souls, no a shepherd of sheep, and not to show off or to be eccentric but happily, for love of the earth and the grass. And in the winter, whenever he got restless, he would tie skis to his bicylce and "go up" alone, with no money, only an artichoke in one pocket and the other full of salad.
(1: Page 40, Bear Meat)
- Lewis, C. S.
Llosa, Mario Vargas
Death In The Andes [+]
- Faber And Faber, 1996 hardcover
Translated by Edith Grossman
"It's a country nobody can understand." Red laughed. "And for people from clear, transparent countries like mine, nothing is more attractive than an indecipherable mystery."
[The whole tale of the killing of the pishtaco is fantastic.]
- Faber And Faber, 1996 hardcover
- Lowry, Lois
- Mahfouz, Naguib
- Marquez, Gabriel Garcia
- McCourt, Frank
- Melville, Herman
- Mieville, China
- Miller, Arthur
- Miller, Walter
- Mishima, Yukio
- Mitchell, Margaret
- Morier, James Justinian
- Morrison, Toni
- Nabokov, Vladimir
Naipaul, V. S.
Mr Stone And The Knights Companion [+]
- Andre Deutsch, 1963 hardcover
He had sat in the cafes, but hated the coffee, and to sit idling in an unfamiliar place was not pleasant.
"I am a changed man," he said one lunchtime. "As from today. How can I signalize this change, Stone?"
"I can't really think."
"A hat, Stone. A man needs a hat. A hat makes a man. Look about you. Look at the people wearing hats. Where can I buy one?"
- Nesbit, E.
Vandover And The Brute [+]
- Doubleday, Doran & Company, 1928 hardcover
Vandover had decided at lunch that day that he would not go back to work at his studio in the afternoon, but would stay at home instead and read a very interesting story about two men who had bought a wrecked opium ship for fifty thousand dollars, and had afterward discovered that she contained only a few tins of the drug. He was curious to see how it turned out; the studio was a long way downtown, the day was a little cold, and he felt that he would enjoy a little relaxation. Anyhow, he meant to stay at home and put in the whole afternoon on a good novel.
Sounds played lightly over the steady muffled roar that seemed to come from all quarters at once; it was that deep murmur, that great minor diapason that always disengages itself from vast bodies, from mountains, from oceans, from forests, from sleeping armies. [...] It was like the breathing of some infinitely great monster, alive and palpitating, the sistole and diastole of some gigantic heart. The whole existence of the great slumbering city passed upward there before him through the still night air in one long wave of sound.
It was Life, the murmur of the great, mysterious force that spun the wheels of Nature and that sent it onward like some enormous engine, restless, relentless; an engine that sped straight forward, driving before it the infinite herd of humanity, driving it on at breathless speed through all eternity, driving it no one knew whither, crushing out inexorably all those who lagged behind the herd and who fell from exhaustion, grinding them to dust beneath its myriad iron wheels, riding over them, still driving on the herd that yet remained, driving it recklessly, blindly on and on toward some far distant goal, some vague unknown end.
(Pages 199, 202)
AM 03: HMS Surprise [+]
AM 04: The Mauritius Command [+]
- Norton, 1991 softcover
On the larboard side a sail had been lowered into the water, buoyed at its extremities and weighted in the middle to form a swimming-bath.
"I beg your pardon," said Nicolls with an artificial smile. "I am afraid I lost the thread. What were you saying?"
"I was repeating phrases from this little book. It is all I could get, apart from the Fort William grammar, which is in my cabin. It is a phrase-book, and I believe it must have been compiled by a disappointed man: My horse has been eaten by a tiger, leopard, bear; I wish to hire a palanquin; there are no palanquins in this town, sir—all my money has been stolen; I wish to speak to the Collector; the Collector is dead, sir—I have been beaten by evil men. Yet salacious too, poor burning soul: Woman, wilt though lie with me?"
"Oh, oh!" cried the chaplain, staggering into the booms. "A fish—a fish has hit me! A flying-fish hit me in the face."
"There is another," said Stephen, picking it up. "[...] How they gleam—a whole flight, see, see! Here is a third. I shall offer it, lightly fried, to my sloth."
"In this bucket", said Stephen, walking into the cabin, "in this small half-bucket, now, I have the population of Dublin, London and Paris combined: these animalculae—what is the matter with the sloth?" It was curled on Jack's knee, breathing heavily: its bowl and Jack's glass stood empty on the table. Stephen picked it up, peered into its affable, bleary face, shook it, and hung it upon its rope. It seized hold with one fore and one hind foot, letting the others dangle limp, and went to sleep.
Stephen looked sharply round, saw the decanter, smelt to the sloth, and cried, "Jack, you have debauched my sloth."
Another voice, low, inward and confidential, was that of Babbington, who had borrowed Stephen's Hindustani phrasebook: over and over again he was repeating "Woman, wilt though lie with me?" in that language, staring impatiently north-eastwards. Like so many sailors he could sense the loom of the land, a land with thousands of women upon it, every one of whom might perhaps lie with him.
"Indeed the very great majority kill themselves long long before their time. Live as children; grow pale as adolescents; show a flash of life in love; die in their twenties and join the poor things that creep angry and restless about the earth. [...] This boy is alive." For some time the boy, a creature with huge eyes, had been smiling at him between bracelets; they were well acquainted before Stephen said, "Boy wilt thou tell me the cost of these bracelets?"
"Pandit," said the boy, his teeth flashing, "the truth is my mother and my father; I will not lie to thee. There are bracelets for every degree of wealth."
AM 05: Desolation Island [+]
- Norton, 1991 softcover
"There you are, Stephen," he cried. "How happy I am to see you. What have you there?"
"An unborn porcupine."
"Well, There's glory for you."
AM 07: The Surgeon's Mate [+]
- Norton, 1991 softcover
"Now there's a man who understands horses for you. His stables are over behind Horndean."
"Oh yes, indeed. His grandfather owned Potoooooooo, so it's in the blood. Do you choose to take a hand? We play the French game here."
"I believe not; but I will sit by you, if I may."
"If I were not so fagged, I believe I would make a joke about that, with so much pox aboard," and he laughed very heartily at the thought of his near approach to wit.
"When am I to be given my supper?" asked Stephen. "You invited me to partake of toasted cheese, in luxury. I find no luxury, but a shambles: I find no toasted cheese, but a host groping for jocosity about what is in fact a grave and painful disease. Yet stay, I think I do perceive the smell of cheese above the powder-reek and the stench of that vile dark-lantern. Killick, belay there; are you now about the cheese?"
"No, sir," said Herapath again. "But if you will forgive me, I am a little weary, and should like to fish awhile. You will recall that last time, when the giant petrel covered me with oil, you said I might be excused."
"It was only that you startled the poor bird by falling down, and by falling down, as you must allow me to observe, in a singularly abrupt and awkward fashion, Mr. Herapath."
"The ground was wet, and deep in the excrement of seals."
"Petrels cannot abide the least gaucherie," said Stephen.
AM 08: The Ionian Mission [+]
- Norton, 1992 softcover
(This a particularly error-ridden edition.)
"How those blue spectacles do change your face! I should never have recognized you."
"They are green."
"Blue or green, pray take them off. They make me feel quite uneasy, as though you were a stranger."
"Never," said Stephen. "Once I have them on, fairly fixed under my wig, I cannot take them off without disturbing its symmetry."
"Why do you wear them? [...] You can see perfectly well without."
"Not always, when I have to read notes under a powerful reading-lamp. But the main reason I wear them is that I am nervous, and they give me countenance."
"Were you ever in Elsinore, Mr Jagiello?" asked jack.
"Oh, many a time, sir," said Jagiello. "I know it well. I believe I could show you Hamlet's grave from here."
"I was really wondering whether they were ten or thirteen mortars on the upper terrace," said Jack, "but I should be very happy to see Hamlet's grave as well."
"Both ten and thirteen, sir. And if you go a little to the right from the farthest turret, there are some trees: and among those trees there is a grave. You can just make out the rocks."
"So there he lies," said Jack, his telescope levelled. "Well, well: we must all come to it. But it was a capital piece, capital. I never laughed so much in my life."
"A capital piece indeed," said Stephen, "and I doubt I could have done much better myself. But, do you know, I have never in my own mind classed it among the comedies. Pray did you ready it recently?"
"I never read it at all," said Jack. "That is to say, not right through."
"I have been thinking. I have been thinking about Artemisia."
"Indeed?" said Jack.
"Do not suppose I refer to Mausolus' wife..." said Stephen, raising one finger.
"If you mean the frigate, she is in the West Indies."
"... for it is Lygdamus' daughter that I have in mind, the Queen of Cos. As you will recall, she accompanied Xerxes, with five ships, and took part in the battle of Salamis."
AM 10: The Far Side Of The World [+]
- Norton, 1992 softcover
"You and Martin may say what you like," said Jack, "but there are two ends to every pudding."
"I should be the last to deny it," said Stephen. "If a pudding starts, clearly it must end; the human mind is incapable of grasping infinity, and an endless pudding passes our conception."
AM 11: The Reverse Of The Medal [+]
- Norton, 1992 softcover
"The other thing that occurred to me," he said, turning round, "is that it is extremely awkward talking to a man with hair all over his face; you cannot tell what he is thinking, what he really means, whether he is false or not. Sometimes people wear blue spectacles, and it is much the same."
AM 12: The Letter Of Marque [+]
- Norton, 1992 softcover
He indulged himself in the purchase of a comfortable green-bound quarto of blank pages that opened really flat; in this he confined himself to observations on medicine, natural philosophy and personal affairs.
AM 13: The Thirteen-Gun Salute [+]
- Norton, 1990 hardcover
"Hazel-hen," he thought. "Never have I seen a hazel-hen; yet if this good man's advice is followed I shall soon incorporate one. I shall be in part a hazel-hen with whatever virtues a hazel-hen may possess." He reflected upon Finn Mac Coul and his salmon and while he was reflecting there in the twilight, lamps were lit.
AM 15: Clarissa Oakes [+]
- Norton, 1991 hardcover
He had all his tubes, pots and instruments by his open book in the cabin, but before recording the figures he had retired to the quarter-gallery, his privy. Sitting there he heard a crash and a confused tumbling, and when he came out he found that Stephen had fallen off the chair from which he was trying to catch a spider under the skylight and had not only flung sea-water all over his records but had broken an improbable number of instruments—hygrometers, seven different kinds of thermometer, Crompton's device for measuring specific gravity: practically everything made of glass. He had also contrived to shatter the hanging barometer and tear down a sword-rack: all this in a very moderate sea.
- Harper Collins, 2003 paperback (ebook)
"Question and answer is not a civilized form of conversation."
Being unusually close friends remorse for beating the other sometimes outweighed the triumph of winning.
The Hard Life [+]
- Picador, 1976 softcover
"Well, I'm young yet."
"Is that a fact now? You are like the rest of them, you are counting from the wrong end. How do you known you are not within three months of the end of your life?"
He was a gloomy character at first but in three meetings I taught him to play chess. Now he is delighted with himself and thinks he is a witchdoctor.
You might perhaps devise some prophylactic scheming such as remarking apropos of nothing that conditions on the canal bank are nothing short of a scandal with men and women going about there poxed up to the eyes, drunk on methylated spirits, flooding the walks with contaminated puke and making it unsafe for Christians even to walk in that area.
- O'Brien, Robert C.
- O'Brien, Tim
- Orwell, George
- Paton, Alan
G 3: Titus Alone [+]
- Unknown edition
Came slithering through the dusk the entrail gobblers: the belly-brained, agog for carrion. The jackals and the foxes. What are they digging for? The scrabbling of their horn-grey nails proceeds. Their eyes start like jellies. Their ears, the twitching spades of playing-cards. Ahoy! Scavengers! The moon's retching.
- Poe, Edgar Allan
- The Overlook Press, 2000 softcover
The letter was from my unknown enemy who signed himself "Ah Kin" this time. He also called himself "Mr. Rose" and "Alvarado." Or was it a woman? The letter was postmarked here in Merida, and it read, without date or salutation, "Well, Mr. Jimmy Burns, I saw your foolish red face in the market again today. Why don't you go back where you belong and stay there?"
She walked around inspecting my room. She pulled the curtain and looked into the closet, which was so shallow that the coat hangers hung at a slant. She asked if she could use my bathroom. When she came out she said, "I didn't really have to go but I wanted to see how you had organized your bathroom. I wanted to check out your shaving things and your medicine cabinet."
Minim was in the Bowling Hall of Fame. He was a retired bowler and sports poet, and he maintained that bowling was held in even lower esteem than poetry, though it was a close call.
My neighbors, Chuck and Diane, stopped to speak. That wasn't quite their names but some names you can't take in.
"Do you know where the dog goes from here?"
He hesitated. I gave him some money. He thanked me and apologized, saying he was not moving up as fast in the Naroody organization as he had hoped. Naroody kept him short of pocket money. He got his keep and little more. He pointed to a window above one of the shops. That was his room. He had a room of his own up there with running water, or trickling water anyway, and he ate well enough at Naroody's second table, but he saw very little cash, not nearly enough to buy fashionable clothes and take women out at night. His life was not fulfilled. There were men his age, much less deserving, who drove cars and had as many as ten pairs of pointed shoes in their closets.
"But the dog."
"When you get right down to it everything is a cube."
He had taken to saying that lately. Everything is a cube. I don't know what he had in mind. When you get right down to it everything is not a cube. You look around and see that. Hardly anything in nature is a cube. Some few crystals, I suppose. Art and Mike thought it might have to do with cubic increase, geometric progression, or with some mystical notion, of life raised to the third power. Had Doc really hit on something?
Doc woke us in the night. He came to us with his yellow candle and a scrap of paper. It was headed "Xupah [as he spelled it] Guatemala," and dated. Underneath that he had written, "I swear or affirm that I accept without reservation Dr. Richard Flandin's theory of direct trans-Pacific Chinese settlement of Meso-America."
"Would you look this over and then sign it, please? Take your time. I don't like to disturb you but I might forget this in the morning. [...]"
Refugio and I signed [...].
"I can't sign this," Gail whispered to me.
"Why not? Just put something down."
She signed Denise's name by the light of the candle.
The girl with the lightning bugs followed me around too, saying the same thing over and over again.
"Share the wonder, bring a friend."
"I did bring one."
"Share the wonder, bring a friend."
"Most people wouldn't want bugs in their hair."
"Share the wonder, bring a friend."
The bugs were tied to her hair with thread, and they flashed on in ragged sequence with a cool green light.
There was another letter waiting for me from my secret enemy, and this one was shorter and sweeter than ever. "Just looking at you makes me want to vomit up all my food," the message read, and it was signed "Alvarado." A strangely feeble performance.
"In my spare time I write stories of a speculative nature, if you want to hold that against me."
"Up in the front room is where we have our couch and our record player and our magazines. That's where we sit at night when we want to listen to our music or look through our magazines."
The Dog Of The South [+]
- The Overlook Press, 1999 softcover
He wore his black hat, the brim curled up in front to defy wind resistance, and his stovepipe boots. One trouser leg was tucked in and the other hung free, after the fashion. The boots were glorious. He had his sunglasses on too, and his heavy Western belt buckle, which portrayed a branding scene in silver relief.
He kept one hand in his pocket and his shoulders were hunched up against the drizzle. He had an orange folder of RJR cigarette papers up in his hatband to keep them dry. They were getting wet.
He bought some coffee in a paper cup with handles, and a heavy cakelike doughnut that stuck in the throat. It had an unpleasant spicy taste. "You want the rest of this?" he said to the man sitting by him.
"I didn't put my hands on it."
"Thanks but no."
Norwood placed it in the chrome ashtray between them. The man glanced down at it. In a minute or two he did it again. "I didn't see any other place to put it," said Norwood. He picked it up and put it in his empty cup and held it. His hands were cold. Too much smoking?
Down the street a piece Norwood stopped at a hardware store, thinking he would go in and run his hand through the turnip seed and look at the knives and see how much shotgun shells cost in North Carolina.
He had a $32.50 black panther rampant on his left shoulder [...] Many times he wished he had gotten a small globe and anchor with a serpentine banner under it saying U.S. Marines—First to Fight. To have more than one tattoo was foolishness.
Rita Lee said, "Have you ever hypnotized a chicken?"
"I never have."
"You can do it."
"Let me see her."
"Wait a minute."
"It won't hurt her. They come right on out of it."
She held Joann's chinless head down to the ground and slowly traced a line in the dust in front of her eyes. A few seconds of this and the chicken lay in a position, transfixed.
Norwood said, "I'll be a son of a bitch."
He tried it himself and soon they had all eleven of Mrs. Whichcoat's Rhode Island Reds lying about stupefied. He looked at them, then arranged four or five in a single rank and stood in front of them. "Congratulations, men," he said. "Yall keep up the good work. The skipper just came through the squad bay and there was little piles of crap all over the deck."
A little girl with sandy hair was hanging out the window backward and shaking her head from side to side. "Boy, it looks like the world is blowing up," she said.
Norwood didn't want to leave their baggage unattended but Rita Lee said she didn't think anyone would bother it since there was a chicken with it. Norwood couldn't figure that one out.
- The Overlook Press, 1999 softcover
Dupree could always make me laugh when he did a thing called The Electric Man. As The Electric Man or The Mud Man he could make anyone laugh. And sometimes he would go out one door and come in at another one, as though he had just arrived, having moved very quickly in concealment between the two points.
Just then I heard someone at the door and I thought it was the children. Some sort of youth congress had been in session at the capitol for two or three days and children were milling about all over town. A few had even wandered into Gum Street where they had no conceivable business. I had been packing my clothes and watching these youngsters off and on all day through the curtain and now—the very thing I feared—they were at my door. What could they want? A glass of water? The phone? My signature on a petition? I made no sound and no move.
I drank from the side of the mug that a left-handed person would use, in the belief that fewer mouths had been on that side. That is also my policy with cups, any vessel with a handle, although you can usually count on cups getting a more thorough washing than bar glasses.
After a time I could hear knocking and bumping and voices outside. Someone seemed to be going from door to door. Maybe trick or treat, or the Lions Club selling brooms. Or the dumbest person in the motel looking for his room. My turn came and I went to the door. It was the old man in his big shoes. He was wearing a white cotton jacked or smock. [...] The man gave me a card. Scriptural quotations, I thought, or deaf-and-dumb signs.
"What is this? What are you doing?"
"I'm just fooling around," he said. [...] "It's something to do. My wife is an old shopping-cart lady. That's Mrs. Meigs I'm speaking of. She picks up bottles all day and I do this all night."
"You weren't wearing that jacket thing before."
"This is my traffic coat. Mrs. Meigs made it for me so the cars and trucks could see me at night and not run over me. It's just got this one button in the middle and these two pockets here at the bottom. How do you like it?"
"I like it all right. It looks like a pharmacists's coat."
"It don't have near enough pockets to suit me but you can't have everything."
I could see a tangle of gray hair in his long left ear. I wondered at what age that business started, the hair-in-the-ear business. I was getting on myself. [...] I felt in my ears and found nothing, but I knew the stuff would be sprouting there soon, perhaps in a matter of hours. I was gaining weight too. In the last few months I had begun to see my own cheeks, little pink horizons.
"He's not a Mason either but when he shakes your hand he does something with his thumb. He knows how to give the Masonic sign of distress too. He would never show me how to do it."
"This car seems to be going sideways," he said to me.
The car wasn't going sideways and I didn't bother to answer him.
A little later he said, "This engine seems to be sucking air."
I let that go too. He began to talk about his youth.
In the bathroom down the hall I found a paperback book with no covers and took it back to bed with me. I read almost two pages before I realized it was fiction, and worse, a story set in the future. Some bird was calling up for a "helicab." I dropped it on the floor which is to say I didn't fling it across the room, although I could tell it had been flung many times.
I relate this dream, knowing it is ill-mannered to do so, because of its anomalous character. Most of my dreams were paltry, lifeless things.
[I] searched my room for boots. They were not in the suitcase and they were not under the bed. Where could they be? There was no other place in this bare cube of a room where black engineer's boots might be concealed. A dog, I said to myself. Some town dog has nosed open the door here and carried off my boots in his mouth. Or two dogs. But both boots? Could a dog manage that? Two trips maybe. Or two dogs. But had I in fact ever seen a dog in the hotel? No. Not counting the foyer where they sometimes gamboled and fought around Webster's box. I had never seen a dog on the stairs or in the hallway. Then it came to me with a swelling rush that I didn't own a pair of black engineer's boots either, or any other kind of boots.
He was walking along behind me chanting, "Guy Dupree, Guy Dupree, Guy Dupree," and Webster picked it up, this chant. I made them stop it. Victor asked me if they could walk backward.
"You can walk any way you please as long as you keep up and don't make a lot of noise."
"Can we hold our knees together and just take little short steps?"
"No, I don't want you to do that."
What part of the U.S.A. did Father Jackie hail from? I wrestled with this problem and couldn't work it out. He talked on and on. A theory formed in my head on the origin of his nasal tones. It was this. When he was a small child, is prankster father—a bitter man, jealous of the boy's promise—had taught him to speak in this fashion, taught him to honk, to recite, "Three lintle kintons they lot their montons and they began to cry," thus fixing the habit early and assuring his failure in the world, the boot from every job, even street attacks. But was that really probable?
- Pullman, Philip
- Little Brown And Company, 1990 hardcover
"How can we win?"
"Get lucky with the right judge."
"Sounds like Vegas."
The lawyer shrugged. "That's because life is Vegas."
"Oboy," Zoyd groaned, "I've got worse trouble here than I've ever had, and I'm hearing 'Life is Vegas'?"
Elmhurt's eyes moistened, and his lips began to tremble. "Y-You mean... life isn't Vegas?"
Distantly related sleazoids and the occasional megacreep drew from the bottom of the stock, stole from the kitty, signaled confederates in belching and farting codes, and tried to mark decks with nosepickings, theirs and others'.
- Ransome, Arthur
- Reeve, Philip
Remarque, Erich Maria
All Quiet On The Western Front [+]
- Vintage, 1996 softcover
Translated by Brian Murdoch
I can make out two white shapes. Two geese. [...]
I make a jump for them. I get one of them straight away, then a couple of seconds later the other one. I bang their heads against the wall like a madman, trying to stun them. But I obviously don't use enough force. The beasts hiss and beat out all round them with their wings and their feet. I fight on grimly, but my God, geese are strong! They tug at me and I stumble this way and that. In the dark these white things have become terrifying, my arms have sprouted wings and I'm almost afraid that I'll take off into the skies, just as if I had a couple of observation balloons in my hands.
I feel agitated: but I don't want to be, because it isn't right. I want to get that quiet rapture back, feel again, just as before, that fierce and unnamed passion I used to feel when I looked at my books.
- Vintage, 1996 softcover
- Rowling, J. K.
- Unknown edition
Translated from French by Unknown
"I am to marry this horrible Marquis of Sbrufadelli this very day. He arrives by noon. He comes to sign the contract—to make me the Marchioness of Sbrufadelli. Oh!" It was a cry of pain from that tender heart. "The very name burns my lips."
"Should it surprise me to discover that I had a mother? After all, a mother is an indispensable necessity to getting one's self born."
- Unknown edition
- Sachar, Louis
Short Stories [+]
- Unknown edition
"Oh, you're simply exasperating. You've been reading Nietzsche till you haven't got any sense of moral proportion left. May I ask if you are governed by any laws of conduct whatever?"
(Reginald At The Theater, Page ?)
"To die before being painted by Sargent is to go to heaven prematurely."
(Reginald On The Academy, Page ?)
"To have reached thirty," said Reginald, "is to have failed in life."
(Reginald On The Academy, Page ?)
Salinger, J. D.
The Catcher In The Rye [+]
- Little, Brown and Company, 1991 softcover
The book I was reading was this book I took out of the library by mistake. They gave me the wrong book, and I didn't notice it till I got back to my room. They gave me Out of Africa, by Isak Dinesen. I thought it was going to stink, but it didn't. It was a very good book. I'm quite illiterate, but I read a lot.
"Did you ever get fed up?" I said. "I mean did you ever get scared that everything was going to go lousy unless you did something? I mean do you like school and all that stuff?"
"Well, I hate it. Boy, do I hate it," I said. "But it isn't just that. It's everything. [...] Take cars," I said. [...] "Take most people, they're crazy about cars. They worry if they get a little scratch on them. [...] I'd rather have a goddam horse. A horse is at least human, for God's sake."
"I have a feeling that you're riding for some kind of a terrible, terrible fall. But I honestly don't know what kind. [...] You may end up in some business office, throwing paper clips at the nearest stenographer. I just don't know."
"If I write something down for you, will you read it carefully? And keep it?"
"Yes. Sure," I said. I did, too. I still have the paper with me.
- Salvatore, R. A.
- Sartre, Jean-Paul
- Selznick, Brian
- Shakespeare, William
- Shaw, George Bernard
- Shelley, Mary
- Sinclair, Upton
AWQ 2: When Did You See Her Last? [+]
AWQ 3: Shouldn't You Be In School? [+]
- Brown Books For Young Readers, 2013 hardcover
"My second question is, do you prefer visiting a museum alone or with a companion?"
"With a companion," I said quickly. "Nobody should go to a museum alone."
Anyone who gives you a cinnamon roll fresh from the oven is a friend for life.
"I'm not a stranger," I said, and pointed to his book. "I read the same authors you do."
I held the mug up to the door, with the open side next to the wood, and then pressed my ear to the other side. An empty glass works better, or a stethoscope if you have one handy, but nobody has a stethoscope handy.
- Little, Brown And Company, 2014 hardcover
Sharon and Theodora were gone. They were probably hitting the town. I hoped it was hitting them back.
At least half of the janitors you meet in your life are working for the enemy.
It was a sickness in my stomach and in my mouth and even in my heart. The symptoms were nervousness and dread. I don't know what the illness is called. I've had it since I was a child.
A cranky old woman who makes good doughnuts is better than a cranky old woman who doesn't.
- Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr
The Grapes Of Wrath [+]
- Unknown edition
The hitch-hiker squirmed his back against the seat in comfort, took off his cap, and swabbed his sweating forehead and chin with it.
"Thanks, buddy," he said. "My dogs was pooped out."
(Chapter 2, Page ?)
"But this guy was funny. You didn't give a damn when he said a big word 'cause he just done it for ducks. He wasn't puttin' on no dog."
(Chapter 2, Page ?)
- Stephenson, Neal
- Sterling, Bruce
- Strindberg, August
Thompson, Hunter S.
The Rum Diary [+]
- ?, audiobook
So many bowling alleys that it was horrible to ponder the meaning of it.
- Tolkien, J. R. R.
- Tolstoy, Leo
Fathers And Sons [+]
- Penguin Books, 1985 softcover
Translated by Rosemary Edmonds
"And this Monsieur Bazarov, what is he exactly?" [Pavel Petrovich] inquired with deliberation.
"What is Bazarov?" Arkady smiled. "Would you like me to tell you, uncle, what he is exactly?"
"Please do, nephew."
"He is a nihilist!"
"A nihilist," said Nikolai Petrovich. "[...] The term must signify a man who ... who recognizes nothing?"
"Say—who respects nothing," put in Pavel Petrovich, and set to work with the butter again.
"Who looks at everything critically," observed Arkady.
"Isn't that the same thing?" asked Pavel Petrovich.
"No, it's not the same thing. A nihilist is a person who does not take any principle for granted, however much that principle may be revered."
"And what are these mysterious relations between a man and a woman? We physiologists know what they are. You study the anatomy of the eye; and where does that enigmatic look you talk about come in? That's all romantic rot, mouldy aesthetics. We had much better go and inspect that beetle."
And the two friends sauntered off to Bazarov's room, which was already pervaded by a sort of medico-sergical smell, mixed with the reek of cheap tobacco.
[Arina Vlassyevna] believed that if the candles carried in procession during Easter night service did not go out there would be a good crop of buckwheat, and that a mushroom will stop growing if a human eye has looked on it; she believed that the devil likes to be where there is water, and that every Jew has a blood-red mark on his breast; she was afraid of mice, adders, frogs, sparrows, leeches, thunder, of cold water, draughts, of horses, goats, red-haired people and black cats; she regarded crickets and dogs as unclean creatures; she never ate veal, pigeon, crayfish, cheese, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, hares or water-melons because a sliced water-melon suggested the head of John the Baptist; the mere mention of oysters made her shudder; she loved food—but fasted strictly; she slept ten hours out of twenty-four.
"Here I lie under a haystack ... The tiny bit of space I occupy is so minute in comparison with the rest of the universe, where I am not and which is not concerned with me; and the period of time in which it is my lot to live is so infinitesimal compared with the eternity in which I have not been and shall not be ... And yet here, in this atom which is myself, in this mathematical point, blood circulates, the brain operates and aspires to something too ... What a monstrous business! What futility!"
"One needs people, even if it's to have someone to swear at."
"To say, for instance, that education is beneficial is a platitude; but to say that education is injurious is an inverted platitude. It's got more dash to it but fundamentally it's the same thing."
"Everyone looks silly when they're asleep."
The facade part of the portico had long overgrown with thick shrubbery; only the capitals of the columns could be seen above the dense green. Inside the portico itself it was airy even at midday. Ever since she had seen grass-snakes there Anna Sergeyevna had not cared to go into the place; but Katya often came and sat on a big stone bench under one of the niches. Here, in the cool shade, she read and did her embroidery, or abandoned herself to that sensation of absolute peace with which we are probably all familiar and the charm of which lies in half-conscious, hushed contemplation of the vast current of life that is for ever swirling in and around us.
"Some young ladies have the reputation of being intelligent because they can sigh cleverly."
- Penguin Books, 1985 softcover
- Twain, Mark
- Verne, Jules
Cat's Cradle [+]
- Unknown edition
People have to talk about something just to keep their voice boxes in working order, so they'll have good voice boxes in case there's ever anything really meaningful to say.
- G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1997 hardcover
"There were all kinds of collisions between different kinds of vehicles," wrote Kilgore Trout.
Question: What is the white stuff in bird poop?
Answer: That is bird poop, too.
Why throw money at problems? That is what money is for. Should the nations wealth be redistributed? It has been and continues to be redistributed to a few people in a manner strikingly unhelpful.
From the news store I go one block south to the Postal Convenience Station, where I am secretly in love with a woman behind the counter.
One time I had my pocket picked in the Postal Convenience Center. Convenient for whom?
I go home. I have had one heck of a good time. Listen: We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different.
Institute Benjamenta [+]
The Assistant [+]
- Serpent's Tail, 1969 softcover
Translated by Christopher Middleton
I like to see people I love getting a little angry. Nothing pleases me more than to give a completely false image of myself to people for whom I have made a place in my heart. Perhaps that's unjust, but it is audacious, so it is right.
Perpetual motion compels morality. [...] The city educates.
"Above all: never think of yourself as an outcast. There are no outcasts, brother, for perhaps there's nothing in this world that's worth aspiring to. And yet you must aspire, even passionately so. But so as to become not too full of longings: realize that there is nothing, nothing worth aspiring to. Everything is rotten."
Nobody bothers with us any more. [..] In the classroom there's an emptiness, an emptiness that almost sickens one. All noise is forbidden. [...] The courtyard out there lies deserted, like a foursquare eternity, and I usually practice standing on one leg. Often, for a change, I see how long I can hold my breath. [...] Or I close my untired eyes, so as to see nothing any more. The eyes transmit thoughts, therefore I shut them from time to time, in order to stop having to think. When one is just there like this and doing nothing, one suddenly feels how painful existence can be.
I have the somewhat unpleasant feeling that I shall always have something to eat in the world.
- Penguin Classics, 2008 softcover
Translated from German by Susan Bernofsky
What swimming person, provided he is not about to drown, can help being in excellent spirits?
It was approximately as large as a larger-than-life human head.
In fact, all sorts of things were, in the end, possible in this world when one took the trouble and love to reflect on this a bit while out for a walk through the meadows.
- Serpent's Tail, 1969 softcover
Wells, H. G.
The Invisible Man [+]
- Unknown edition
The probationary assistant in the National School [thought] that the stranger was an Anarchist in disguise, preparing explosives, and he resolved to undertake such detective operations as his time permitted. These consisted for the most part in looking very hard at the stranger whenever they met, or in asking people who had never seen the stranger, leading questions about him.
"I wish you'd keep your fingers out of my eye," said the aerial voice, in a tone of savage expostulation. "The fact is, I'm all here—head, hands, legs, and all the rest of it, but it happens I'm invisible. It's a confounded nuisance, but I am. That's no reason why I should be poked to pieces by every stupid bumpkin."
In a leisurely manner—he did everything in a leisurely manner—he was contemplating trying on a pair of boots. They were the soundest boots he had come across for a long time, but too large for him; whereas the ones he had were, in dry weather, a very comfortable fit, but too thin-soled for damp. Mr. Thomas Marvel hated roomy shoes, but then he hated damp. He had never properly thought out which he hated most, and it was a pleasant day, and there was nothing better to do. So he put the four shoes in a graceful group on the turf and looked at them. And seeing them there among the grass and springing agrimony, it suddenly occurred to him that both pairs were exceedingly ugly to see.
"This announces the first day of the Terror. Port Burdock is no longer under the Queen, tell your Colonel of Police, and the rest of them; it is under me—the Terror! This is day one of year one of the new epoch—the Epoch of the Invisible Man. I am Invisible Man the First."
- White, E. B.
White, T. H.
The Once And Future King [+]
- Unknown edition
"Oh, Pellinore," said Grummore nonchalantly, "what is this that you are drawin'?"
"What do you think it is?"
"It looks like a sort of drawin'."
"That is what it is," said the King. "I wish you two would go away. I mean, if you could take a hint."
"It would be better if you were to make a line here," pursued Sir Grummore.
"Here, where the pig is."
"My dear fellow, I don't know what you are talking about."
"I am sorry, Pellinore, I thought you was drawin' a pig with your eyes shut."
(The Queen Of Air And Darkness, Chapter 9, Page ?)
On the desk were the splattering quill pens, blotting sand, sticks for beating Lancelot when he was stupid, and notes, in unutterable confusion, as to which jupons had lately been pawned—pawning was a great institution for valuable armour—and which helms had been brought up to date with a glancing surface, and whose vembrace stood in need of repair, and what had been paid to whom for fforbeshynge which when. Most of the accounts were wrongly added up.
(The Ill-Made Knight, Chapter 2, Page ?)
Knights-in-armour were like divers in more ways than one.
Apart from their helmets and encumbrances and the difficulty of breathing, they had to be dressed in their suits by kind and careful assistants. They had to rely on these assistants to do it properly. A diver puts his life in the hands of the ratings who are dressing him. These young men, like pages or squires, mother him with great tenderness and concentration and with a sort of protective respect. They always address him by his title, not by his name. They say, "Sit down, diver," or "Now the left foot, diver," or "Diver Two, can you hear me on the inter-com?"
It is good to put your life in other people's hands.
(The Ill-Made Knight, Chapter 2, Page ?)
Hawking, as James the First pointed out, is an extreme stirrer of passions. It is because the hawks themselves are furious creatures, and the people who associate with them catch it.
Arthur presented Sir Lancelot with an inter-mewed jerfalcon, with which to keep himself amused. [...] Lancelot was pleased with his present, and settled down busily in competition with the other angry falconers, who were hard at work criticizing each other's methods and sending each other messages of sugary venom and getting yellow about the eyeballs.
(The Ill-Made Knight, Chapter 4, Page ?)
Lancelot reined his horse and looked over his shoulder. At the same moment the knight leaned over to his near side and swapped off the lady's head. When Lancelot looked back again, without seeing any soldiers, he found the lady sitting beside him with no head on. She slowly began to sag to the left, throbbing horribly, and fell in the dust. There was blood all over his horse.
Lancelot grew white about the nostrils.
(The Ill-Made Knight, Chapter 8, Page ?)
[Sir Lancelot] was lying on his stomach in a wood one day, with what sad thoughts nobody knows, when a lady archer came by, who was hunting. It does not say whether she was a masculine sort of lady with a moustache and gentlemen's neckwear, or whether she was one of those scatterbrains from the film world who do archery because it is so cute. Anyway, she saw Lancelot, and she thought he was a rabbit.
(The Ill-Made Knight, Chapter 41, Page ?)
"Here is a white hair."
"Pull it out."
"Poor hair," he said. "It is a thin one. Why is your hair so beautiful, Jenny? [...] Shall I pull?"
"Did it hurt?"
"Why didn't it? When I was small, I used to pull my sisters' hair, and they used to pull mine, and it hurt like fury. Do we lose our faculties as we get older, so that we can't feel our pains and joys?"
"No," she explained. "It is because you only pulled one of them. When you pull a whole lock together, then it hurts. Look."
He held down his head so that she could reach, and she, stretching up backward with a white arm, twisted his forelock round her finger. She tugged until he made a face.
"Yes, it still hurts. What a relief!"
"Was that how your sisters pulled it?"
"Yes, but I pulled theirs much harder. Whenever I came near one of my sisters she used to hold her pigtails in both hands, and glare at me."
(The Candle In The Wind, Chapter 7, Page ?)
- Wilde, Oscar
Wodehouse, P. G.
Mike At Wrykyn [+]
Psmith Journalist [+]
- The Overlook Press, 2011 hardcover
"I shoot at cats with an air-pistol, the beauty of which is that even if you hit them it doesn't hurt—simply keeps them bright and interested in life; and if you miss you've had all the fun anyhow. Have you ever shot at a rocketing cat? Fastest mark you can have. Society's latest craze. Buy a pistol and see life."
The true philosopher is the man who says "All right," and goes to sleep in his arm-chair. One's attitude towards Life's Little Difficulties should be that of the gentleman in the fable, who sat down on an acorn one day, and happened to doze. The warmth of his body cause the acorn to germinate, and it grew so rapidly that, when he awoke, he found himself sitting in the fork of an oak, sixty feet from the ground. He thought he would go home, but, finding this impossible, he altered his plans. "Well, well," he said, "if I cannot compel circumstances to my will, I can at least adapt my will to circumstances. I decide to remain here." Which he did, and had a not unpleasant time. The oak lacked some of the comforts of home, but the air was splendid and the view excellent.
- Penguin Books, 1970 softcover
"I had a cat oncest," said Mr Jarvis, ignoring the remark and sticking to his point, "dat ate beetles and got thin and used to tie itsself inter knots."
"A versatile animal," agreed Psmith.
"Say," Mr Jarvis went on, now plainly on a subject near to his heart, "dem beetles is fierce. Sure. Can't keep de cats off of eatin' dem, I can't. First t'ing you know dey've swallowed dem, and den dey gits thin and ties themselves into knots."
The Claw Of The Conciliator (2) [+]
- Orb, 1994 softcover
"My eyes are not as good as they once were." He told us how good they once were, which was very good indeed.
- Yoshikawa, Eiji
- Pushkin Press, 2009 softcover
Translated by Anthea Bell and Eden Cedar Paul
He read as others pray, as gamblers follow the spinning of the roulette wheel, as drunkards stare into vacancy; he read with such profound absorption that ever since I first watched him the reading of ordinary mortals has seemed a pastime.
- Pushkin Press, 2009 softcover