“Can I really blame Boris for his Pause, for his need to seize the day, to snatching the pausal snatch while there was still time, still time for the old-timer he was swiftly becoming? Don’t we all deserve to romp and hump and carry on?” Of course, even admitting her own self-interest doesn’t mean that we don’t spend a great deal of time in Mia’s tenured-poet’s head. And the book is very good in...
“Lola’s eyes gleamed with pleasure and interest as she listened to my tales of the cosmopolitans, all of them true but all fictions nevertheless. Shorn of intimacy and seen from a considerable distance, we are all comic characters, farcical buffoons who bumble through our lives, making fine messes as we go, but when you get close, the ridiculous fades into the sordid or the tragic or the merely...
siri hustvedt, the summer without men
“‘Who was she, Mama?’ ‘Does it matter?’ ‘No, maybe not,’ I lied. ‘She’s dead,’ my mother said. ‘She’s been dead for twelve years.’” Mia, our heroine, talking to her mother. Mia’s come back to her small-town Minnesota home after her husband, Boris, asks for a ‘pause’ after 30 years of marriage (Mia, charmingly: “The Pause was French with limp but shiny brown hair.”). Her mother, queenly alongside...
That’s where the other Greenwood got to Luther most — in that music. You...– Dennis Lehane, The Given Day | Harper Perennial 09.23.08
dennis lehane, the given day
“When the umps emptied the bag in the on-deck circle, half the boys, Babe included, came out of the dugout to marvel at the creamy brightness of the leather, the sharp red stitching. Christ’s sake, it was like looking at a pile of new eyes. They were so alive, so clean, so white.” The Given Day is big and old-fashioned, a historical novel of the sort that it’s always surprising people still...
"you'll feel forever changed" = you will never get... →
J. Robert Lennon’s Literary Blurb Translation Guide.
“The thickset crew-cut man beside Laker was galloping though a Swedish translation of Fleming’s Casino Royale. Laker shut his eyes. Hartmann’s stare and throttled voice, the sound of Karen’s sobbing as she was taken from the hut, Patrick’s parting grin as he left him, the ghastly stutter muffled by the paper bag, Slattery’s naive Boy Scout enthusiasm, Frenzel, Rudolf Frenzel — all were there...
francis clifford, the naked runner
“‘Did you know,’ Patrick said, flicking through a leaflet now, ‘that Bach was cantor at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig?’ ‘If I did I’d forgotten.’ ‘I wonder if the Liverpool guides will mention the Beatles in a couple of hundred years’ time?’ Laker winced theatrically.” Copyrighted 1965. Reader winces theatrically, too. Signet 1967
“When he glanced at her fingers, he saw they were stained like new leather. And he wasn’t sure if he noticed this before, but he now saw that her lips had thin cracks cutting directly perpendicular to her mouth from years of bunching up around narrow filters. He saw her complexion was grayish, as if, in exhaling all that pale smoke, she had somehow leached the color out of herself. Imagining her...
Gabriel had noticed that of all the cardinal sins, greed was the most uniformly...– Peter Mountford, A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism | Mariner 04.28.11
peter mountford, a young man's guide to late...
“In most branches of the foreign service, the rule was that no assignment abroad should last more than three years. The reason: after three years in a country, people ran the risk of going native. They developed a kind of Stockholm syndrome, whereby they began to care more about the welfare of their host country than of those who’d sent them there. The paradox of Gabriel’s job was that to do it...
“Ansel was quiet for a moment. Then he said, ‘When the guards wouldn’t help you, you didn’t stop. When Yuka wouldn’t help you, you didn’t stop. And when you had to do the one thing you swore you wouldn’t do, you still didn’t stop. Tyson should be afraid of you.’” Of course, there’s a point in any dystopia, in most work in this genre for that matter (sci-fi? speculative fiction?) where we make the...
“Darcy looked down again. She had been used, she would be used again, but she hadn’t gotten anywhere on her own, and he might be the best person she could find to use her.” Again, and this time even stronger, with the fatalism that comes from scarcity (although this is a scarcity of options as well as resources, and these people grill their jellyfish).
anna north, america pacifica
“There was no way she was going to make rent without her mother’s salary. She would have to live with Jorge’s friend. And if she didn’t want that, she’d have to move, but where could he afford to live on just her paycheck, minus refinery tax, minus the special Seaguard tax, minus the electric bill and bus fare and showers and a month’s worth of cheese food and seaweed crackers and jellyfish...
lee child, the hard way
“‘It’s an American,’ Lane said. ‘I think.’ He closed his eyes again and concentrated. His lips moved like he was replaying conversations in his head. ‘Yes, American. Certainly a native speaker. No stumbles. Never any weird or unusual words. Just normal, like you would hear all the time.’” Please take this the right way; this is after all highly competent and completely unpretentious airport...
jp manchette, fatale
“A few minutes later, Lorque parked the Mercedes behind the fish market on a dirty deserted street, because Aimee and he had not finished their discussion. Night had come. Cats ran among piles of empty shells. Inside the car, Lorque and Aimee talked and sat in silence by turns. At one point Lorque covered his face with both hands and it seemed Aimee had spoken sharply to him. At another moment he...
“He began to turn on lamps, first one, then two, then all of them; six in the front room, three in the big bedroom, two in each of the kids’ rooms, then the tall one with the fake fruit tree base and shade fringed by dangling green grapes that rose up from the kitchen table. Della had for some reason thought lamps to be perfect works of art, and affordable, and she’d made a hobby of their...
daniel woodrell, the ones you do
“Tip Shade was a jumbo package of pock-faced bruiser, with long brown hair greased behind his ears, hanging to his shoulders. His eyes were of a common but unnamed brown hue. He tended to scowl by reflex and grunt in response. His neck was a holdover from some normal-necked person’s nightmare, and when he crossed his arms it looked like two large snakes procreating a third. “He did his own...
daniel woodrell, muscle for the wing
“Mother Nature was laying down some Law out there in the bayou night, and as befits the order of things, large feathered creatures dove off high branches, swooped low and stuck talons in smaller furry meals, and bandit-eyed coons came stealthily out of hollow logs and glommed finned, scaly chow from the still, brackish shallows, while all those things that slither waited, coiled, for the passing...
‘He’s an evolutionist, you know. None of that Bible blather. He thinks you leave...– Daniel Woodrell, Under the Bright Lights (repr. in The Bayou Trilogy) | Mulholland Books 04.28.11
daniel woodrell, under the bright lights
“A sort of fond sadness meandered through Shade. It was partly because he loved his brother and knew him perfectly, partly because he did not know him at all. The unlighted chamber where one’s true and most secret longings and convictions are housed has a door that is impressively sealed. The more you turn the knob and peek through the keyhole, the more you have to guess, and the less you know.” ...
“She didn’t exactly choose to intoxicate the already drunken drag queens and hipsters and costumed freaks, but neither did she withhold intoxication from them. It was a by-product of her mysterious contemporary contentment, how the fake beehives hung from the ceiling became real beehives, and the fake stars set in the ceiling brightened and the ceiling became a night sky, how the chubby hipster in...
chris adrian, the great night
“His whole world had become populated and dominated by metaphors of rejection and reconciliation; he could not eat a cream puff without considering how it was filled to bursting with cream the way he was filled to bursting with love for her. Meta-pastries like these were obvious, and even pathetic, and generated by the worst part of him, not the best.” Occasionally, you come across something...
I always watched you secretly, Dany. I watched you furtively but avidly. I...– Sebastien Japrisot, The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun | Plume 02.01.97
sebastien japrisot, the lady in the car with...
“He returned the papers, took off his cap, mopped his brow with a handkerchief, and after looking sideways at his companion, said, ‘Just because you’re a pretty girl and have a big car doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want. It’s true, you know.’” Weirdly, another variation on The Driver’s Seat, the second I’ve read recently; both French and in translation, both rather dated, this more...
lawrence block, the girl with the long green heart
“I had liked that life, too. But a man can endure many things day by day that become unthinkable when seen as a larger chunk of time. My life was all right as long as I lived it a day at a time. See it as ten years of the same thing, with Bannion selling his place to somebody else somewhere along the line, with the dream evaporating and the correspondence courses discontinued and nothing left but...
“Times were supposed to be good again, but not here, where too much damage had been done during the farm troubles, and too many people in the county had lost their livelihoods and moved away. The high school had to be consolidated with the one fifteen miles away. Two restaurants and one of the drugstores closed, and the Fashionaire, and the pie shop, and one of the banks, and the library went to...
“It was as if she’d traveled a distance of lives since she left home this morning, from her own new and splendid house to her parents’ smaller, fustier one, and now this plain old workhorse farm. She had a feeling that if she went any farther down the road, she might come across a sod hut.” And this is the mark of the University Novelist; this is a small version of the thing Jonathan Franzen did...
jean thompson, the year we left home
“People like her parents decorated their houses with fanciful things that were supposed to remind you of farmhouses, like seasonal front-door wreaths, or a mailbox made out of a pump handle, or a miniature wishing well in the front yard. Maybe somewhere there were farms like that. But Norm and Martha’s was all business. A rhubarb patch, an asparagus patch. A clothesline. For decoration, Norm had...