“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”—One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez
“I mean, Moby Dick started off as a simple first person narrative, and evolves into this massive, weirdly operatic… [he mimes the crest and fall of enormous waves]”—Chad Harbach, correctly describing Moby Dick’s structure in the only way possible, in the newest Five Dials.
“It’s like Christians citing Christian sources to define things that aren’t Christian.”—Unsigned Wikipedia editor in the subsection “Feminists keep citing FEMINIST SOURCES to define the men’s rights movement, and issues pertaining to it” of the predictably hysterical, 11,000 word Talk page for the Wikipedia article for Misandry.
“She [Princess Diana] enjoyed only the romances of Barbara Cartland. I’m far too snobbish to have read one, but I assume they are stories in which a wedding takes place and they all live happily ever after.”—One year after it created a furor, the real controversy that everyone ignored in that Hilary Mantel speech on Kate Middleton is that Mantel is too good for romance novels.
“This is probably why so many of them regard Vegas as an unfit atmosphere to raise children—although judging by my students, the town turns out an amazingly resilient and insouciant brand of American adolescent, one whose penchant for body decorations seems to me a healthier way of theatricalizing one’s lack of prospects than the narcotics that performed this function for my generation.”—Dave Hickey, speaking for plugs not drugs
Admit the day’s veering toward something else, the tiny flag of your heart inverted. Admit the pause between words, wearing away at the febrile. Admit jealousy, the want for what you have if you didn’t have it. Admit hunger. And an absence of which you are far too aware. Admit the necessity of breathing, the sound of several thousand humming birds in torpor, ruby throats pinched against their breasts. Admit sorrow, which is the only heirloom that lasts.
Admit the deity, hallowed be his hollow name. Admit change, but not so much its progress or lack thereof cannot be seen. Admit intrigue. Admit hangnail. Admit lovely, how it casually and often passes you by. Fail, because you won’t find respite. Recourse, only as an occupation for the hands. Reject delicate because you have walked on glass for reasons. Admit deduction, how easy it was to itemize. Then possibility, but limit it to the aroma of an orchid, wilting.
Anyway, people who love like, Peter Pan or books about upper middle class British families in the pre-World War I era, with their cooks and scullery maids and nurseries, will enjoy the beginning of this book, which is comparable, in part, to the Forsyth Saga, Trollope, Downton Abbey and Alan Hollinghurst, etc etc, I watch way too many television shows.
People who love war novels without too much violence will love the second part. And people who like to be depressed about old ladies will like the third.
“Years ago, at Goddard College, a squirrelly little progressive school in Vermont committed to delighting and tormenting its students and faculty in equal measure, I taught a course in Rilke’s work that was as much a writing workshop as a literature seminar. We began by reading every translation of “Archaic Torso of Apollo” I could find, in order to think about the relativity of translation. Many competing versions made the poem seem less a monumental, unapproachable thing than something made entirely of language, subject to reinvention and the ongoing work of interpretation. (“Archaic Torso of Apollo” is monumental, but it doesn’t help readers, especially new ones, to think of it as such. A “masterpiece” can be an uninviting, sealed-off thing, like the poor Mona Lisa, not only shielded behind an acrylic barrier, but walled behind her nearly impassable reputation.)”—Mark Doty, in Duino Elegies and the Sonnets of Orpheus