Thursday, March 06, 2008

7 literary passages that I enjoy

1. from Something Happened by Joseph Heller

". . . there are long gaps in my past that remain obscure and give no clue. There are cryptic rumblings inside them but no flashes of recall. They are pitch black and remain that way, and all the things I was and all the changes and things that happened to me then will be lost to me forever unless I find them. No one else will. Where are they? Where are those scattered, ripped pieces of that fragmented little boy and bewildered young man who turned out to be me? There are times now when it seems to me that I may not have been any place at all for long periods of time. What ever happened to all those truly important parts of my past that no longer exist in my memory and have been ignored or forgotten by everyone else? No one will ever recall them. It is too late to gather me all up and put me together again. My life, therefore, is not entirely credible. I have trouble believing it."

2. from The Soloist by Mark Salzman

"As a rule, I try to avoid talking with anyone about the collapse of society. My own view is that apathy is an acceptable, if not admirable, stance because it actively reduces frustration and despair and to that extent makes the world a better place."

3. from Emma Who Saved My Life by Wilton Barnhardt

"Each night as I lay awake, looking at the ceiling, every breath would become a sigh, it would creep over me again, my loneliness, my meaning nothing to anybody. I would be so loyal to someone, so good to them, I would make them laugh all the time and forgive them anything and as for sex, if they'd just have it with me, I would make sure they didn't get out of bed all day, I would RUIN them for other people, I would show them what passion was put on this earth for, and all this was just centimeters below the surface, it was just waiting there to be released and I did not comprehend WHY it should be no one wanted to take this from me, to make even a token pass over these qualities...
"There I was chewing bland flavorless pizza and looking fat and washed out in the fluorescent light of Baldo's window reflection and I was all alone while everyone else in the world was out on a date or laughing or dancing or having fun or experiencing love in some form somewhere -- wait, focus on the thought: making love somewhere, in each other's arms, touching, another human being's face and lips just THAT far away before you kissed them, and this wasn't some special occasion but what some people, MOST people did every night, and there I was fat and older chewing on a pizza all alone, and instead of a simple I am very lonely, which would have sufficed, the mind burst through some kind of previously untried barrier and it told me: I have been lonely all my life."

4. from A Philosophical Investigation by Philip Kerr

"Only the prospect of death -- one's own, or of others, it makes no difference -- makes life real. Death is the one true certainty. When we die, the world does not alter, but comes to an end. Death is not an event in life."

5. from White Man's Grave by Richard Dooling

"But if God was hearing all of this, would He be quite annoyed and disappointed in Randall's preoccupation with money? Would He be insulted that the celebration of the mass had reminded Randall of cannibalism? Maybe God would think it was funny? Probably not. Laughter is satanic. It was invented after the Fall. God cannot laugh. Nowhere in the scriptures could Randall recall it saying, 'God laughed and said, "Why, that's the funniest thing I ever heard!"' . . . Maybe God cannot laugh because everything makes perfect sense to Him. No nonsense, no irony, no absurdity, no contradiction . . . To God, Groucho Marx was just another human thing making noises with his mouth. No wry, divine smiles, no sloppy raspberries. Not a day goes by without Him thinking: That's not funny."

6. from Daily Afflictions by Andrew Boyd

"You can understand your life only after it happens. Unfortunately, by then it's too late. The previous moment is already gone and the present moment is again incomprehensible. If you are to embrace your life as an evolving whole, you must think of yourself as a story -- admittedly, a highly biased and poorly researched pulp paperback that is constantly being revised and incrementally updated with no sign of when it will end or what the characters will do next, yet a story that is uniquely yours. Seeing yourself as a story helps you reconcile your forward motion and your backward gaze. It gives you hope that, at the very end, it will all somehow make sense, even if you break off in mid-sentence."

7. from A Pound of Paper by John Baxter

"Restoring a library book to collectable condition is like trying to return a Kentucky Fried Chicken to the state of health where it can lay an egg."

1 comment:

Curtis said...

These are wonderful. Thanks for posting them.