June 13, 2012

-image-i’m back and i hate myself


October 5, 2011

-image-100 best last lines from novels ~ american book review

Great great stuff here. Obviously, I haven’t read them all — I’ve read a good number — but this makes me want to read them all.


1. …you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on. –Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable (1953; trans. Samuel Beckett)

2. Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you? –Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)

3. So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. –F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925)

4. …I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. –James Joyce, Ulysses (1922)

5. But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can’t stand it. I been there before. –Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)

6. “Yes,” I said. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?” –Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises (1926)

7. He loved Big Brother. –George Orwell, 1984 (1949)

8. ‘It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.’ –Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

9. The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky—seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness. –Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1902)

10. Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision. –Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (1927)

11. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead. –James Joyce, “The Dead” in Dubliners (1914)

12. I am thinking of aurochs and angels, the secret of durable pigments, prophetic sonnets, the refuge of art. And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita. –Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955)

13. And you say, “Just a moment, I’ve almost finished If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino.” –Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night a traveler (1979; trans. William Weaver)

14. Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity! –Herman Melville, Bartleby the Scrivener (1853)

15. Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth. –Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967; trans. Gregory Rabassa)

16. Then I went back into the house and wrote, It is midnight. The rain is beating on the windows. It was not midnight. It was not raining. –Samuel Beckett, Molloy (1951, trans. Patrick Bowles)

17. So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars’ll be out, and don’t you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty. –Jack Kerouac, On the Road (1957)

18. I don’t hate it he thought, panting in the cold air, the iron New England dark; I don’t. I don’t! I don’t hate it! I don’t hate it! –William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom! (1936)

19. L–d! said my mother, what is all this story about?——
A COCK and a BULL, said Yorick——And one of the best of its kind I ever heard.
–Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (1759–1767)

20. ‘I shall feel proud and satisfied to have been the first author to enjoy the full fruit of his writings, as I desired, because my only desire has been to make men hate those false, absurd histories in books of chivalry, which thanks to the exploits of my real Don Quixote are even now tottering, and without any doubt will soon tumble to the ground. Farewell.’ –Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605, 1615; trans. John Rutherford)

21. If I were a younger man, I would write a history of human stupidity; and I would climb to the top of Mount McCabe and lie down on my back with my history for a pillow; and I would take from the ground some of the blue-white poison that makes statues of men; and I would make a statue of myself, lying on my back, grinning horribly, and thumbing my nose at You Know Who. –Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle (1963)
22. You have fallen into art return to life –William H. Gass, Willie Masters’ Lonesome Wife (1968)

23. In your rocking-chair, by your window dreaming, shall you long, alone. In your rocking-chair, by your window, shall you dream such happiness as you may never feel. –Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie (1900)

24. Go, my book, and help destroy the world as it is. –Russell Banks, Continental Drift (1985)

25. It was the devious-cruising Rachel, that in her retracing search after her missing children, only found another orphan. –Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)

26. The knife came down, missing him by inches, and he took off. –Joseph Heller, Catch-22 (1961)

27. Is it possible for anyone in Germany, nowadays, to raise his right hand, for whatever the reason, and not be flooded by the memory of a dream to end all dreams? –Walter Abish, How German Is It? (1980)

28. Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman; and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood; and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago; and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days. –Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)

29. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs. –George Eliot, Middlemarch (1871–72)

30. He was soon borne away by the waves and lost in darkness and distance. –Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818)

31. Now everybody— –Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow (1973)

32. But, in spite of these deficiencies, the wishes, the hopes, the confidence, the predictions of the small band of true friends who witnessed the ceremony, were fully answered in the perfect happiness of the union. –Jane Austen, Emma (1816)

33. It was the nightmare of real things, the fallen wonder of the world. –Don DeLillo, The Names (1982)

34. He knew what those jubilant crowds did not know but could have learned from books: that the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen-chests; that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, and bookshelves; and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and the enlightening of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city. –Albert Camus, The Plague (1947; trans. Stuart Gilbert)

35. This is not the scene I dreamed of. Like much else nowadays I leave it feeling stupid, like a man who lost his way long ago but presses on along a road that may lead nowhere. –J. M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians (1980)

36. “Like a dog!” he said, it was as if the shame of it must outlive him. –Franz Kafka, The Trial (1925; trans. Willa and Edwin Muir)

37. P.S.
Sorry I forgot to give you the mayonnaise.
–Richard Brautigan, Trout Fishing in America (1967)

38. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate. –Albert Camus, The Stranger (1942; trans. Matthew Ward)

39. Yes, they will trample me underfoot, the numbers marching one two three, four hundred million five hundred six, reducing me to specks of voiceless dust, just as, in all good time, they will trample my son who is not my son, and his son who will not be his, and his who will not be his, until the thousand and first generation, until a thousand and one midnights have bestowed their terrible gifts and a thousand and one children have died, because it is the privilege and the curse of midnight’s children to be both masters and victims of their times, to forsake privacy and be sucked into the annihilating whirlpool of the multitudes, and to be unable to live or die in peace. –Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (1981)

40. Oedipa settled back, to await the crying of lot 49. –Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (1965)

41. I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth. –Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights (1847)

42. A way a lone a last a loved a long the –James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (1939)

43. Columbus too thought he was a flop, probably, when they sent him back in chains. Which didn’t prove there was no America. –Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March (1953)

44. Everything we need that is not food or love is here in the tabloid racks. The tales of the supernatural and extraterrestrial. The miracle vitamins, the cures for cancer, the remedies for obesity. The cults of the famous and the dead. –Don DeLillo, White Noise (1985)

45. Are there any questions? –Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (1986)

46. It was a fine cry—loud and long—but it had no bottom and it had no top, just
circles and circles of sorrow. –Toni Morrison, Sula (1973)

47. And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One! –Charles Dickens, A
Christmas Carol (1843)

48. “No glot…C’lom Fliday” –William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch (1959)

49. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from
pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which. –George
Orwell, Animal Farm (1945)

50. “Poor Grendel’s had an accident,” I whisper. “So may you all.” –John Gardner,
Grendel (1971)

51. So I mean listen I got this neat idea hey, you listening? Hey? You listening…?
–William Gaddis, J R (1975)

52. Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody. –J. D.
Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1951)

53. The aircraft rise from the runways of the airport, carrying the remnants of
Vaughan’s semen to the instrument panels and radiator grilles of a thousand crashing
cars, the stances of a million passengers. –J. G. Ballard, Crash (1973)

54. Whatever we had missed, we possessed together the precious, the incommunicable
past. –Willa Cather, My Ántonia (1918)

55. We shall come back, no doubt, to walk down the Row and watch young people
on the tennis courts by the clump of mimosas and walk down the beach by the bay,
where the diving floats lift gently in the sun, and on out to the pine grove, where the
needles thick on the ground will deaden the footfall so that we shall move among
the trees as soundlessly as smoke. But that will be a long time from now, and soon
now we shall go out of the house and go into the convulsion of the world, out of
history into history and the awful responsibility of Time. –Robert Penn Warren, All
the King’s Men (1946)

56. He knelt by the bed and bent over her, draining their last moment to its lees;
and in the silence there passed between them the word which made all clear. –Edith
Wharton, The House of Mirth (1905)

57. “All that is very well,” answered Candide, “but let us cultivate our garden.”
–Voltaire, Candide (1759; trans. Robert M. Adams)

58. He was the only person caught in the collapse, and afterward, most of his work
was recovered too, and it is still spoken of, when it is noted, with high regard,
though seldom played. –William H. Gaddis, The Recognitions (1955)

59. Old father, old artificer, stand me now and ever in good stead. –James Joyce, A
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

60. One bird said to Billy Pilgrim, “Poo-tee-weet?” –Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-
Five (1969)

61. For now she knew what Shalimar knew: If you surrendered to the air, you could
ride it. –Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon (1977)

62. I never saw any of them again—except the cops. No way has yet been invented
to say goodbye to them. –Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye (1953)

63. The key to the treasure is the treasure. –John Barth, “Dunyazadiad” from
Chimera (1972)

64. After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the
rain. –Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms (1929)

65. This is the difference between this and that. –Gertrude Stein, A Novel of Thank
You (1958)

66. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that
enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be
playing. –A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner (1928)

67. “Vaya con Dios, my darklin’, and remember: vote early and vote often, don’t
take any wooden nickels, and”—by now I was rolling about helplessly on the spareroom
floor, scrunched up around my throbbing pain and bawling like a baby—
“always leave ’em laughin’ as you say good-bye!” –Robert Coover, The Public
Burning (1977)

68. Then there are more and more endings: the sixth, the 53rd, the 131st, the
9,435th ending, endings going faster and faster, more and more endings, faster and
faster until this book is having 186,000 endings per second. –Richard Brautigan, A
Confederate General from Big Sur (1964)

69. She sat staring with her eyes shut, into his eyes, and felt as if she had finally got
to the beginning of something she couldn’t begin, and she saw him moving farther
and farther away, farther and farther into the darkness until he was the pin point of
light. –Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood (1952)

70. He heard the ring of steel against steel as a far door clanged shut. –Richard
Wright, Native Son (1940)

71. So that, in the end, there was no end. –Patrick White, The Tree of Man (1955)

72. The old man was dreaming about the lions. –Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man
and the Sea (1952)

73. Somebody threw a dead dog after him down the ravine. –Malcolm Lowry,
Under the Volcano (1947)

74. Tell me how free I am. –Richard Powers, Prisoner’s Dilemma (1988)

75. “We shall never be again as we were!” –Henry James, The Wings of the Dove

76. ‘I closed my eyes, head drooping, like a person drunk for so long she no longer
knows she’s drunk, and then, drunk, awoke to the world which lay before me.’
–Kathy Acker, Don Quixote (1986)

77. “Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is
another day.” –Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind (1936)

78. He never sleeps, the judge. He is dancing, dancing. He says that he will never
die. –Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (1985)

79. “And then the storm of shit begins” –Roberto Bolaño, By Night in Chile (2000;
trans. Chris Andrews)

80. Everything had gone right with me since he had died, but how I wished there
existed someone to whom I could say that I was sorry. –Graham Greene, The Quiet
American (1956)

81. It’s old light, and there’s not much of it. But it’s enough to see by. –Margaret
Atwood, Cat’s Eye (1988)

82. Ah: runs. Runs. –John Updike, Rabbit, Run (1960)

83. They were only a thin slice, held between the contiguous impressions that
composed our life at that time; the memory of a particular image is but regret for
a particular moment; and houses, roads, avenues are as fugitive, alas, as the years.
–Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way (1913; trans. C. K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence

84. But I knew that Catherine had kissed me because she trusted me, and that made
me happy then but now I am sad because by the time my eyes close each night
I suspect that as usual I have been fooling myself, that she, too, is in her grave.
–William T. Vollmann, You Bright and Risen Angels (1987)

85. But that is the beginning of a new story—the story of the gradual renewal of
a man, the story of his gradual regeneration, of his passing from one world into
another, of his initiation into a new unknown life. That might be the subject of a new
story, but our present story is ended. –Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment
(1866; trans. Constance Garnett)

86. He waited for someone to tell him who to be next. –Brian Evenson, The Open
Curtain (2006)

87. That’s it. The sun in the evening. The moon at dawn. The still voice. –John
Hawkes, Second Skin (1964)

88. “Meet Mrs Bundren,” he says. –William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (1930)

89. this way this way this way this way this way this way this
way out this
way out
–Ronald Sukenick, Out (1973)

90. …and to all you other cats and chicks out there, sweet or otherwise, buried deep
in wordy tombs, who never yet have walked from off the page, a shake and a hug
and a kiss and a drink. Cheers! –Gilbert Sorrentino, Mulligan Stew (1979)

91. Come, children, let us shut up the box and the puppets, for our play is played
out. –William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair (1847–48)

92. Maybe I will go to Paris. Who knows? But I’ll sure as hell never go back to
Texas again. –James Crumley, The Final Country (2001)

93. “Terminal.” –John Barth, The End of the Road (1958)

94. From the sky a swift Angel descends, an Angel with a golden helmet and green
spurs, a flaming sword in his hand, an Angel escaped from the Indo-Hispanic altars
of opulent hunger, from need overcome by sleep, from the coupling of opposites:
body and soul, wakefulness and death, living and sleeping, remembering and
desiring, imagining: the happy boy who reaches the sad land carries all this on his
lips, he bears the memory of death, white and extinguished, like the flame that went
out in his mother’s belly: for a swift, marvelous instant, the boy being born knows
that this light of memory, wisdom, and death was an Angel and that this other Angel
who flies from the navel of heaven with the sword in his hand is the fraternal enemy
of the first: he is the Baroque Angel, with a sword in his hand and quetzal wings,
and a serpent doublet, and a golden helmet, the Angel strikes, strikes the lips of the
boy being born on the beach: the burning and painful sword strikes his lips and the
boy forgets, he forgets everything forgets everything,
–Carlos Fuentes, Christopher Unborn (1987;
trans. Alfred MacAdam and Carlos Fuentes)

95. From here on in I rag nobody. –Mark Harris, Bang the Drum Slowly (1956)

96. My love for my children makes me glad that I am what I am and keeps me from
desiring to be otherwise; and yet, when I sometimes open a little box in which I
still keep my fast yellowing manuscripts, the only tangible remnants of a vanished
dream, a dead ambition, a sacrificed talent, I cannot repress the thought that, after
all, I have chosen the lesser part, that I have sold my birthright for a mess of pottage.
–James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man (1912)

97. There was the hum of bees, and the musky odor of pinks filled the air. –Kate
Chopin, The Awakening (1899)

98. And he couldn’t do it. He could not fucking die. How could he leave? How could
he go? Everything he hated was here. –Philip Roth, Sabbath’s Theater (1995)

99. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see. –Zora
Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)

100. “GOOD GRIEF—IT’S DADDY!” –Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg, Candy (1958)

October 31, 2010

-image-lotsa questions about books

I got this from Lisa.

1. Favorite childhood book?

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I was obsessed with living in a museum for a very long time. Until I was like 23.

2. What are you reading right now?

A few things: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller; The Lost City of Z, David Grann; The Brothers Karamazov — which, yes, I’ve never read.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?

Uhm, none?

4. Bad book habit?

I don’t get it. Is there such a thing? Like, do I rip out pages and smoke them? Do I binge eat book covers? What are you getting at?

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?

You make a lot of library assumptions, Mr. McMemey.

6. Do you have an e-reader?


7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time or several at once?

See #2 above.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?

No. Should they? Am I doing it wrong?

9. Least favorite book you read this year?

Drood, by someone whose name I don’t even remember.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?

I loved Goolrick’s A Reliable Wife. Oooh! Also The Passion by Winterson. I’ve gone back to both of those books repeatedly. So many passages just take my breath away.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?

“Comfort zone” meaning what? Do I sometimes read wearing tight pants? Do I sometimes read while riding naked on the bus? You use terms but you don’t define them.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?

Loose clothing. Cushy chair. Yes, I know what you mean, but I’m just being a sassypants.

13. Can you read on the bus?

I’m sure it’s allowed.

14. Favorite place to read?

In my big chair at home. Sometimes in bed, but I always fall asleep.

15. What is your policy on book lending?

“Policy”? Please contact my HR department.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?

Sometimes. I mean, look, I end up sleeping on top of them. I’m not proud of it, but things happen in bed. Things you don’t intend.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?


18. Not even with text books?

What?? Okay. No, then. Not even with textbooks. And you mean, of course, the textbooks I’m regularly reading? Like the Calculus textbook I slept with last night?

19. What is your favorite language to read in?

Again, what?? Damn, I really wish this meme was in Urdu. It’d be so much better.

20. What makes you love a book?

Goodness. The goodness of the book. And if it sends me chocolates. And tells me I’m pretty. The basics.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?

I’m rarely “inspired” to recommend a book. If I like a book, I’ll get excited about it and tell people. The word “inspired” is ooging me out here, but I guess “liking/loving it” will “inspire” me, if you insist. I don’t know. I’ve given up on recommending books to others, really. So that’s not too inspiring, is it?

What I’m saying is that I don’t tell people, “Oh, you need to read this book!” I say, “I really liked this book.” (And the person can do whatever the heck he wants with that information.) I don’t like being all enthusiastic about a book and having someone tell me they read it based on my enthusiasm and — oh, also — that they hated hated hated it so what the heck was up with my inexplicable enthusiasm??

This whole answer is uninspiring. Whatever. Go read a book. Of your own choosing.

22. Favorite genre?

I like lots of things. I’m an omnivore.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)

Well, you know, I rarely read several of the genres mentioned here: the “on request at the library” genre, the e-reader genre, the comfort zone genre.

24. Favorite biography?

Most recent favorite was probably Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?

Yes. I think I’ll need one after this meme.

26. Favorite cookbook?

The Barefoot Contessa. The one that Jayne should write. If Pioneer Woman can do it, I see NO reason Jayne cannot.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or nonfiction)?

You’re really into this inspiration thing. I have not been overly “inspired” in my reading this year, but there’s still time for that Tuesdays-With-Morrie experience, I guess.

28. Favorite reading snack?

Snack? Sometimes I’m drinking coffee when I read. Is that a snack?

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.

Hm. Well, I don’t usually jump on a hype bandwagon right away. I mean, I’m basically always late to the party on things and that’s okay with me. So why let hype “ruin” my experience? I either like the book or I don’t. “Hype” doesn’t affect my opinion.

And I shall name the case Guillermo.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?

Sometimes yes; sometimes no. And I’m sure the critics are biting their nails over it, too.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?

It must be me, I guess, because some of these questions just strike me as odd. Then again, I’ve had a couple of margaritas. Honestly, Memepants, does any author anywhere give a tiny rat’s bottom what I might say about his or her book? The way the question is phrased it presupposes that I’m perched on my lofty critic’s pedestal, doling out literary lollipops or lumps of coal. So, yeah, I’m fine about “giving bad reviews.” Hahaha. I mean, I don’t think that Waller wanker would slit his “last cowboy” wrists because he heard I hated The Bridges of Madison County with a white hot hate. Am I supposed to feel guilt about “giving” these “bad reviews”? Which of us has had too many margaritas, Memesy?

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?

Didn’t we cover this? No?

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?

I can’t think of a book that intimidated me, really. I mean, if I’m picking up a book to read it, I’m doing so because I’m looking forward to it, because I WANT to read it. At least, it always starts out that way.

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?

I hate the way this question is phrased. Pass. “Most” intimidating? “Too” nervous? I’m not the Cowardly Lion, dude.

35. Favorite poet?

Auden. I’m really into William Carlos Williams right now.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?

I don’t usually check out books. And I really don’t check them out now because I have two books that have been overdue for a year. Shhhh.

37. How often have you returned books to the library unread?

Well, if I ever return the above-mentioned books to the library, they will be unread. Which is weird considering I’ve had them for the 3-week checkout period X 20.

38. Favorite fictional character?

Just one? Seriously? Well, I do so love Jane Eyre.

39. Favorite fictional villain?

The Thenardiers made me shiver.

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?

What is a vacation?

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.

Well, I read every day. Something.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.

In high school I was supposed to read Giants in the Earth, but I just couldn’t finish it. I couldn’t get past all the Norwegian names. Argy Bargy Volstagaaaaard. Narwhal Parwhal Omerkring. Shmeleg Vrleleg Shmundebaaaarg. I was lost. Reading those names felt like having dry heaves. I think I read the Cliff Notes.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?

Well, Norwegian names, clearly.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?

I say this all the damn time, but it’s true: The Bridges of Madison County is a truly fine movie, thanks to Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep and the ruthless editing of the original piece of poo from whence it came.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?

Well, I’m preparing myself to be disappointed by the film version of Life of Pi. It keeps switching directors. Last I heard it was Ang Lee, which actually gives me some small hope. I’m not sure this will actually ever get made. I don’t see how it can be done. Or, rather, done well.

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?

100 bucks?

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?

Always. Is that often?

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?

Boredom. Bad writing. Norwegian names.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?

I would like Sheila or Lisa to keep my books organized. I don’t wanna talk about it.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?

I keep them. And I don’t have space for them. I will die in a book avalanche. I don’t wanna talk about it.

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?

Another weird question. “Avoiding”? Like, we went out on an awkward first date? It has an unrequited crush on me? I owe it money? I mean, books just sit there. So far, I’ve found it pretty easy to “avoid” them. But if War and Peace starts to camp out in front of my house with binoculars and night vision goggles or jumps out of my closet wielding a Bowie knife, then we’ll have an avoidance problem, I guess.

52. Name a book that made you angry.

Well, they usually already HAVE names, but let’s name the book that made me angry That Piece of Crap Oprah Recommended.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?

You know, I don’t generally pick up a book going, “Ooooh, I can’t wait to hate this!” I guess I can say that I didn’t “expect” to like Twilight as much as I did because liking it might make me ask myself deep probing questions I’d rather not ask, but I liked Twilight. It kept the toe tappin’.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?

Well, That Piece of Crap Oprah Recommended comes to mind. Actually, there were several of those. I have never liked an Oprah recommendation and I gave up on being cool enough for her club long ago.

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?

I don’t get it. You’re implying my pleasure reading is supposed to be guilt-ridden — which is weird. Are you in the FOC, Memehead? If everyone feels guilty about what they read for pleasure, there’s not much pleasure in it, is there? You know, I can’t answer this question. I’m not smart enough to keep up with your word-smithery.

April 16, 2010

-image-another excerpt: “a reliable wife”

Another excerpt from A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick.

I can’t seem to shake this book somehow. I keep going back and rereading sections of this book. Goolrick is spare and bleak and resonant all at once. It strikes a deep chord with me. It just does.

A longer excerpt here. Ralph Truitt is at the train station, awaiting the arrival of his “reliable wife.”

The whole town is there, watching him …….

He had meant to be a good man, and he was not a bad man. He had taught himself not to want, after his first wanting and losing. Now he wanted something, and his desire startled and enraged him.

Dressing in the house before he came to the train station, Ralph had caught sight of his face in one of the mirrors. The sight had shocked him. Shocking to see what grief and condescension had done to his face. So many years of hatred and rage and regret.

In the house, before coming here, he had busied his hands with the collar button and the knot of his necktie; he did these things every morning, the fixing and adjusting, the strict attentions of a fastidious man. But until he had looked in the mirror and seen his own anxious hope, he had not imagined, at any step of this foolish enterprise, that the moment would actually come and he would not, at the last, be able to stand it. But that’s what had occurred to him, looking at his collapsed face in the spidery glass. He could not stand it, this wrenching coming to life again. For all these years, he had endured the death, the hideous embarrassment. He had kept on, against every instinct in his heart. He had kept on getting up and going to town and eating and running his father’s businesses and taking on the weight which he inevitably took on no matter how he tried to avoid it, of these people’s lives. He had always assumed his face sent a single signal: everything is all right. Everything is fine. Nothing is wrong.

But, this morning, in the mirror, he saw that it was impossible, that he was the only one who had ever been fooled. And he saw that he cared, that it all mattered.

These people, their children got sick. Their wives or their husbands didn’t love them or they did, while Ralph himself was haunted by the sexual act, the sexual lives, which lay hidden and vast beneath their clothes. Other people’s lust. They touched each other. Their children died, sometimes all at once, whole families, in a single month, of diphtheria or typhoid or the flu. Their husbands or their wives went crazy in a night, in the cold, and burned their houses down for no good reason, or shot their own relatives, their own children dead. They tore their clothes off in public and urinated in the street and defecated in church, writhing with snakes. They destroyed perfectly healthy animals, burned their barns. It was in the papers every week. Every day there was some new tragedy, some new and inexplicable failure of the ordinary.

They soaked their dresses in naphtha and carelessly moved too close to a fire and exploded into flames. They drank poison. They fed poison to each other. They had daughters by their own daughters. They went to bed well and woke up insane. Ran away. Hanged themselves. Such things happened.

Through it all, Ralph thought that his face and body were unreadable, that he had turned a fair and sympathetic eye to the people and their griefs and their bizarre problems. He went to bed trying not to think of it, but he had gotten up this morning and seen it all, the toll it had taken.

His skin was ashen. His hair was lifeless and thinner than he remembered. The corners of his mouth and his eyes turned down, engraved with a permanent air of condescension and grief. His head tilted back from the effort of paying attention to the bodies that stood too close and spoke too loudly. These things, borne of the terrifying stillness of his heart, were visible. Everybody saw it. He had not covered up a single thing. What a fool he had been.

There was a time when he had fallen in love on every street corner. Chased so tiny a thing as a charming ribbon on a hat. A light step, the brush of a skirt’s hem, a gloved hand shooing a fly from a freckled nose had once been enough, had once been all he needed to set his heart racing. Racing with joy. Racing with fair, brutal expectation. So grossly in love his body hurt. But now he had lost the habit of romance, and in his look into the mirror, he had thought with a prick of jealousy of his younger, lascivious self.

He remembered the first time he had seen the bare arm of a grown woman. He remembered the first time a woman had taken her hair down just for him, the startling rich cascade of it, the smell of soap and lavender. He remembered every piece of furniture in the room. He remembered his first kiss. He had loved it all. Once, it had been to him all there was. His body’s hungers had been the entire meaning of his life.

You can live with hopelessness for only so long before you are, in fact, hopeless. He was fifty-four years old, and despair had come to Ralph as an infection, without his even knowing it. He could not pinpoint the moment at which hope had left his heart.

March 30, 2010

-image-excerpt: “a reliable wife”

A short excerpt from A Reliable Wife, mentioned here.

Brief backstory of the main character, Ralph Truitt.

They prayed at breakfast and every other meal. They prayed at odd times, when the children had been reckless or rude or prideful, prayed as though hell were right next door instead of far beneath the earth.

His father did not believe. His father winked. He was damned, although he didn’t seem to know it, or at least it didn’t seem to matter. His mother worked on him in public, and worked harder in secret, sure from the first breath he ever took that he was lost.

His mother was sewing at the kitchen table. “What is hell like?” Ralph asked her, and she paused and said to him, “Hold out your hand,” and he did. He could feel the heat from the kitchen stove; he could see the deep gouges in the kitchen table from which his mother scrubbed away, every day, every trace of human hunger. His hand was steady and his trust was infinite. He was six years old.

“What is hell like?” His mother’s hand flew through the stifling air of the kitchen as her son stared into her piercing eyes. She stabbed her needle deep into the soft part of his hand, at the base of his thumb, and the pain tore through his arm and into his brain, but he did not move, just watched his mother’s fierce and steady eyes.

She twisted the needle. He could feel it scrape against bone. It sent a pain like nettles in his bloodstream, through every vein of his body, straight to his heart.

Her voice was patient and loving and sad, without anger. “That’s what hell is like, son. But it’s like that all the time. Forever.”

And she took the needle out of his hand without ever taking her eyes from his and wiped it on the apron she always wore except to church. She calmly resumed her sewing. He did not cry, and they never spoke of it again. He never told his father or his brother or anybody. And he never for one moment ever forgot or forgave what she had done.

“The pain of hell never heals. It never stops burning for one second. It never goes away.”

He never forgot it because he knew she was right. Whatever happened or did not happen to his faith after that night, whatever happened as his hand got infected and swelled until yellow pus oozed from the wound and then got better, whatever happened as the scar rusted over from deep purple to a faint and tiny dot that only he could see, he knew she was right. And he never, for one moment, from that night on, he never breathed a breath without hating her.

March 26, 2010

-image-the perfect cover!


Okay. So it’s a magazine cover generator. I couldn’t make the bar code go away. And I had limited control over where the elements went.

Still. Totally workable cover for this book.

You don’t even have to read the book to KNOW I’m right.

Sometimes you just know it when you see it, don’t you?

March 25, 2010

-image-book covers

I am obsessed with a book cover. I hate myself.

But it’s true.

Why am I bothered by this? It’s not like I have nothing else to consume my thoughts like, oh, healthcare reform and the ongoing fallout from the Maybe Church debacle and why the toilet isn’t flushing properly and what is up with that one chick’s eyebrows on America’s Next Top Model. This is big stuff. Important stuff.

I am, mentally, VERY busy.

But, nevertheless, squeezed in between those pressing thoughts is the nagging thought of how very much I dislike the cover on my copy of A Reliable Wife.

(Summary: A rich man with a past places an ad for “a reliable wife.” A woman with a past responds. Hijinx ensue.)

Here is my cover — the only one I see in bookstores now. It makes the book seem like a bodice-ripper, which it decidedly is NOT:


It’s the red dress, you see. It makes me nuts. The red of it, the sheen of it, the it of it. That I even have to refer to “it.” There is actually a scene at the beginning of the book where the “reliable wife” is on the train, steaming her way towards her new husband and she opens a window and flings all her fancy dresses out into the dark and the snow. She deliberately dresses down for this man. So it bothers me and it’s ridiculous that it bothers me, but it does. I mean, the red dress keeps me up at night. The stupid red dress. The book sits on the floor by the bed now and the red dress says, “Hahaha. I bug you.” And I say, “No, you don’t, shut up,” and I shove another book on top of it so I don’t see the red dress while it just laughs and laughs.

You know, it’s quite possible I have bigger problems than the stupid red dress.

But here are a couple of other covers I found online for this book. They must be available somewhere. I mean, someone somewhere is HAPPY with their cover of A Reliable Wife. Why can’t that be me?

Okay. This one is better. Not my favorite, but somewhat better:


I like the old-fashioned banner, the lettering, the soft black and white, the non-Perfect Storm font, the utter lack of a red dress. Not spot on, but better, yes.

Here’s my favorite though:


I love the starkness. That feels right. And the old-fashioned kind of bookplate title. The little red bird has a context within the book and I like the dimensionality of that detail. The covers with the dress and even the woman imply too much or even mislead, but this one works for me. The spareness of it is SO right for atmosphere of the book. It’s pretty spot on for me. Yes. I want this cover.

So, okay, I’m a little overwrought about a stupid book cover, but there’s an underlying issue here for those of us who love books and that’s this, I think: We like the look of the book to FEEL like the book, don’t we? The cover needs to feel right, encapsulate the vibe, the atmosphere, the story found inside, and when it doesn’t, it’s just off. Wrong. Of course, you can’t know the rightness or wrongness of the cover until you read the book, but then, if you’re like me and the cover suddenly feels like a huge mismatch on a book you really liked, you become unattractively obsessed — as opposed to attractively obsessed, please understand the difference and tell me what it is — and NEED to scour the bookstores and the Internets until you find a version with a better, more fitting cover.

Because, well, you’re insane, is the problem.

Insanity is the problem, not book covers.

Insanity, Trace. Okay?

February 22, 2010

-image-“jessica” comments on “shiver”

Visitor “jessica” comments on my 60-second review of Shiver:

hey its not all about the sexual crap. Its interesting when you look beyond all that. I mean come on you get to see the inside look from a werewolves point of you. I dont know about you but i love wolves so… Its pretty hard to find a werewolf book these days. what with all these stupid vampire boks uh can you say boring oh puh-lease. and if you like things were there is blood and gore your reading the wrong book. I would know because i am a very sick person my self and if im sayings its a good book then thats saying something right then. so whatever yourself. hey everyone has their opipion and im not going to dis on yours but im just stating my own. so have fun hope ya read it again and see it from a differnt point of view. ~Running with the wolves – Shadow Celtic~

Hi, Jessica. I’m glad you love wolves. I, myself, am neutral about them, unless one were to try to kill me, then I’m sure I’d form an opinion very quickly.

I don’t think I mentioned any “sexual crap” in my brief review. But you’re right. That’s a good thing to remember in life, Jess: It’s not all about the sexual crap.

There are a lot of vampire boks, though, I agree.

Your right here, too: I do have my own opipion. So whatever myself. Im not entirely clear on your opipion, but whatever yourself. Or should that be myself? Im confused by the use of the reflexive pronoun and feel insecure about which way it’s supposed to flex here in the newfangled 21st century that baffles me so. I probably should have paid more attention in school. I might have learned this.

And yes, if you read around this blog, I am ALL about the blood and gore and sex. The banner gives that away, I’m sure. I even thought of naming the blog “Blood and Gore and Sex.” (Shut up, pippa. I’m not changing it.)

I’m sorry your a very sick person your self. Feel better, is what im sayings here. I do hope it’s not the dread acromegaly.

Thanks for hoping I’ll read it again; however, I feel it only fair to tell you, you should lose that, Crackie. I don’t think I need a differnt point of view. I’m fine with mine. Hope ya have fun too. Stay in school! Or, you know, go! ~ Generally avoiding the wolves – Shadow Crankypants


Is anyone else fearing for our future about now?

Indulging my inner gammie: Uh, WHAT are they teaching the kiddos in school these days???

Speling? Writting? Sexual crap?

I am so very old.

February 7, 2010

-image-oh, but i read these too

I didn’t just read that balderdash Shiver in January. No, there were others. Yes, indeedy. And because I feel the need to redeem myself — although if I really wanted to do that, I suppose I’d stop blogging altogether — I list them now.

My other January books:

~ Her Fearful Symmetry, Audrey Niffenegger
Funny, I’ve never read Niffenegger’s first book, The Time Traveler’s Wife. I started with Her Fearful Symmetry. Loved it. A story about identity and ghosts and obsessions.

~ A Reliable Wife, Robert Goolrick
Hypnotic. Redemptive. Obviously needs to be a movie. I’m casting it in my head already — along with my new “book” friend who I see every Saturday now. She works at the bookstore and the last two Saturdays have been ALL about A Reliable Wife. Although the cover with the dress is lame and makes it look like a bodice-ripper, which it’s not. There’s a better cover out there. I’ve seen it.

~ Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
Can’t even talk about this one. I’m still processing. SO different — and so much more amazing, really — than any preconception I’ve ever had about it.

~ Blue Like Jazz (a reread, thank you, Brian!), Donald Miller.
Perspective-changer on issues of faith. I love it.

~ The Sacred Romance, John Eldredge and Brent Curtis

I’m still ruminating on much of what I’ve read last month. So much easier to spew something out about a book that didn’t matter to me.

February 3, 2010

-image-60-second book review

Where I write a book review off the top of my head, all careless and free-form.

Shiver — Maggie Stiefvater

I don’t know what possessed me on this one. I bought it at the bookstore because I liked the cover. I seem to do that a lot. Apparently, Ms. Stiefvater has already sold the movie rights to this werewolf/human romance. It’s no Twilight and I cannot believe I just said “It’s no Twilight.” I mean, Twilight is Twilight; it ain’t Romeo and Juliet. Still, it’s effective, in its way. Here’s part of what makes the vampire work: Vampires can be young but wise, be 18 but 112 or whatever. So they can look forever young, but be grown men emotionally and intellectually, which is nice, and really the only thing that made me feel slightly less icky about devouring the whole Twilight saga.

Sam, the werewolf/hero in Shiver IS 18 and ……. ugh, is he ever. 18 and “emo.” He’s described that way: “Emo.” Everything’s very “OMG” with Sam and his human love interest Grace and, basically, I found them both necrotic and awful (to quote MB). I wanted everyone to wolf out and rip everyone else to shreds.

OMG! I’m a wolf! OMG! What if I STAY a wolf? OMG!!

Ooh, here’s a bonus: Sam the werewolf writes lyrics. At any random moment, a song might come to him because his mind is always “snatching for lyrics” when it might be better used finding a solution to his perpetual wet dog whiff. But no. He’s too emo to be practical, our Sam, so you never know when his mind might simply burst into song. Just whenever he’s swept away, I guess.

For instance, oh, mid make-out session.

Here’s one that came to Wolf Boy while getting hot and sweaty with Grace. But brace yourselves. I’m serious. Clench everything down. Are you clenched?


She draws patterns on my face/These lines make shapes that can’t replace/the version of me I hold inside/when lying with you, lying with you, lying with you

Best, I think, to keep these to oneself.

You know, I think I can honestly say that I’ve never started composing an ode to a makeout session in my head whilst engaged in said makeout session. I’ve always been too busy. If you have time to do that, well, I think you’re doing it wrong or you’re not really in the moment which means you need to ask yourself why, because — news flash — maybe you’re kissing the wrong person.

The other thing here: Sam turns into a wolf based on temperature. The colder it gets, the closer he gets to wolfing out. So Grace always has to “keep him warm.” Ahem. He’s the perpetual damsel in distress, constantly needing to sit by the fire or to borrow a sweater or to wait in the car with the heater on. Turn-OFF. This dude would have gotten nowhere with 18-year-old me. Sure, I was naive and Amish, but I wasn’t stupid. Maybe today’s teenage girl finds this version of guy sexy, but not me. He was too needy and too dainty and too emo.

Wolf out forever, Sam. I just don’t care.

Shiver, indeed.

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