Monthly Archives: June 2009

So Long See You Tomorrow – William Maxwell

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“Though as a grown man I have often stood and looked at the old house, I have never been inside it since that day, when a great many objects that I remember and would like to be reunited with disappeared without a trace: Victorian walnut sofas and chairs that my fingers had absently traced every knob and scroll of, mahogany tables, worn oriental rugs, gilt mirrors, pictures, big square books full of photographs that I knew by heart. If they hadn’t disappeared then, they would have on some other occasion, life being, as Ortega y Gasset somewhere remarks, in itself and forever shipwreck.”

“I seem to remember that I went to the new house one winter day and saw snow descending through the attic to the upstairs bedrooms. It could also be that I never did any such thing, for I am fairly certain that in a snapshot album I have lost track of there was a picture of the house taken in the circumstances I have just described, and it is possible that I am remembering that rather than an actual experience. What we, or at any rate what I, refer to confidently as memory -meaning a moment, a scene, a fact that has been subjected to a fixative and thereby rescued from oblivion- is really a form of storytelling that goes on continually in the mind and often changes with the telling. Too many conflicting emotional interests are involved for life ever to be wholly acceptable, and possibly it is the work of the storyteller to rearrange things so that they conform to this end. In any case, in talking about the past we lie with every breath we draw.”
“The house was too new to be comfortable. It was like having to spend a lot of time with a person you didn’t know very well.”

The Witch of Portobello – Paulo Coelho

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“Our body remains alive, yet, sooner or later, our soul will receive the mortal blow. The perfect crime -for we don’t know who murdered our joy, what their motives were or where the guilty paties are to be found.”
“I’ll understand that in order to combat ghosts you must use weapons that form no part of reality. Then, following the advice of my grandmother, I’ll place an open pair of scissors on my bedside table to snip off the end of the dream.”

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne

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“Out-With”

“Father laughed, which upset Bruno even more; there was nothing that made him more angry than when a grown-up laughed at him for not knowing something, especially when he was trying to find out the answer by asking questions.”

“On most days the young lieutenant looked very smart, striding around in a uniform that appeared to have been ironed while we was wearing it. his black boots always sparkled with polish and his yellow-blond hair was parted at the side and held perfectly in place with something that made all the comb marks stand out in it, like a field that had just been tilled.”

“What exactly was the difference? he wondered to himself. And who decided which people wore the striped pyjamas and which people wore uniforms?”

The Reader – Bernhard Schlink

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“She was struggling, as she always had struggled, not to show what she could do but to hide what she couldn’t do. A life made up of advances that were actually frantic retreats and victories that were concealed defeats.”
“And if was not guilty because one cannot be guilty of betraying a criminal, then I was guilty of having loved a criminal.”

“For a long time I believed there must be a wealth of undiscovered treasure behind that uncommunicative manner, but later I wondered if there was anything behind it at all. Perhaps he has been full of emotions as a boy and a young man, and by giving them no outlet had allowed them over the years to wither and die.”

“In both places, the windows did not open the room to the world beyond, but framed and hung the world in it like a picture.”

“How could it be a comfort that the pain I went through because of my love for Hanna was, in a way, the fate of my generation, a German fate, and that it was only more difficult for me to evade, more difficult for me to manage than the others? All the same, it would have been good for me back then to be able to feel I was part of my generation.”

The New York Trilogy – Paul Auster

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“For more than a month, the only thing I did was copy out passages from books. One of them, from Spinoza, I tacked onto my wall: ‘And when he dreams he does not want to write, he does not have the power to dream he wants to write; and when he dreams he wants to write, he does not have the power to dream he does not want to write.'”

“Stories happen only to those who are able to tell them, someone once said.”

“You felt there was a secret core in him that could never be penetrated, a mysterious centre of hiddenness. To imitate him was somehow to participate in that mystery, but it was also to understand that you could never really know him.”

“You remind me of a somesuch or a groan, I don’t know which.”