Jon McGregor · 275 pages
Rating: (6.5K votes)
“You must always look with both of your eyes and listen with both of your ears. He says this is a very big world and there are many many things you could miss if you are not careful. There are remarkable things all the time, right in front of us, but our eyes have like the clouds over the sun and our lives are paler and poorer if we do not see them for what they are. If nobody speaks of remarkable things, how can they be called remarkable?”
“If you listen, you can hear it.
The city, it sings.
If you stand quietly, at the foot of a garden, in the middle of the street, on the roof of a house.
It's clearest at night, when the sound cuts more sharply across the surface of things, when the song reaches out to a place inside you.
It's a wordless song, for the most, but it's a song all the same, and nobody hearing it could doubt what it sings. And the song sings the loudest when you pick out each note.”
“All the emails I get these days start with sorry but I've been so busy, and I don't understand how we can be so busy and then have nothing to say to each other.”
“The whole city stopped - And this is a pause worth savouring, because the world will soon be complicated again.”
“He thinks about her, at this moment, in her house, a few thin walls away, packing her life into boxes and bags and he wonders what memories she is rediscovering, what thoughts are catching in her mouth like the dust blown from unused textbooks. He wonders if she has buried any traces of herself under her floorboards. He wonders what those traces would be if she had. And he wonders again why he thinks about her so much when he knows so little to think about.”
“there are only these: sparkling eyes, smudged lipstick, fading starlight, the crunching of feet on gravel, laughter, and a slow walk home.”
“I wonder how many ways there are for a mother to produce that wreckage in her own daughter, and my muscles tense as I think of them.”
“There are so many people in the world, and I want to know them all but I don’t even know my next-door neighbor’s name.”
“He says my daughter, and all the love he has is wrapped up in the tone of his voice when he says those two words, he says my daughter you must always look with both of your eyes and listen with both of your ears. He says this is a very big world and there are many many things you could miss if you are not careful. He says there are remarkable things all the time, right in front of us, but our eyes have like the clouds over the sun and our lives are paler and poorer if we do not see them for what they are.
He says, if nobody speaks of remarkable things, how can they be called remarkable?”
“I didn't know what to do, there was a feeling of time running out and a loss of momentum, of opportunities wasted.”
“I'm surprised, but I'm glad, I realise that this is what i wanted that night last week, to simply make a connection and keep hold of it.”
“He says when your grandmother died your mother cried solidly for a week, solidly.
She was crying with relief he says, it was like as if a door had been unlocked and she'd been let outside, she said to me I'm safe now.
He waits, and he says this kid, when it's born, you mustn't ever let it think it's anything other than a gift and a blessing, do you hear me?”
“By the middle of the afternoon it had rained so much that the drains were overflowing, clogged up with leaves and newspapers.
The water built up until it was sliding across the road in great sheets, rippled by the wind and parted like a football crowd by passing cars.
I was shocked by the sheer volume of water that came pouring out of the darkness of the sky.
Watching the weight of it crashing into the ground made me feel like a very young child, unable to understand what was really happening.
Like trying to understand radio waves, or imagining computers communicating along glass cables.
I leant my face against the window as the rain piled upon it, streaming down in waves, blurring my vision, making the shops opposite waver and disappear.
There was a time when I might have found this exhilarating, even miraculous, but not that day.
That day it made me nervous and tense, unable to concentrate on anything while the noise of it clattered against the windows and the roof.
I kept opening the door to look for clear skies, and slamming it shut again.
And then around teatime, from nowhere, I smashed all the dirty plates and mugs into the washing-up bowl.
Something swept through me, swept out of and over me, something unstoppable, like water surging from a broken tap and flooding across the kitchen floor.
I don't quite understand why I felt that way, why I reacted like that.
I wanted to be saying it's just something that happens.
But I was there, that day, slamming the kitchen door over and over again until the handle came loose.
Smacking my hand against the worktop, kicking the cupboard doors, throwing the plates into the sink.
Going fuckfuckfuck through my clenched teeth.
I wanted someone to see me, I wanted someone to come rushing in, to take hold of me and say hey hey what are you doing, hey come on, what's wrong.
But there was no one there, and no one came. ”
“All the emails I get these days start with sorry but I've been busy, and I don't understand how we can be so busy and then have nothing to say to each other.”
“They haven't spoken about it, they haven't said what will we do when we leave here, do you want to come with me, let's work something out, and she knows that this means they will quickly and easily drift apart, into other people's lives, into other people's arms in rooms like this. She is surprised that this doesn't make her feel sad. She listens to the music, she looks around at the things people dropped when they fell asleep or went out of the room, she kisses the boy's arm again and she feels only a kind of sweet nostalgia. She wonders if you can feel nostalgic for something before it's in the past, she wonders if perhaps her vocabulary is too small or if her chemical intake has corroded it and the music goes doowah doowah doowah.”
“He wonders how so much water can resist the pull of so much gravity for the time it takes such pregnant clouds to form, he wonders about the moment the rain begins, the turn from forming to falling, that slight silent pause in the physics of the sky as the critical mass is reached, the hesitation before the first swollen drop hurtles fatly and effortlessly to the ground.”
“He wonders what memories she is rediscovering, what thoughts are catching in her mouth like the dust blown from unused textbooks.”
“the architecture student from number eleven presses his face to the glass and looks at the way the light falls through the water, he thinks about a place where he worked in the spring, an office where they had a stack of empty watercooler bottles against the window, and how he would sit and watch the sun mazing its way through the layers of refraction, the beauty of it, he called it spontaneous maths and he wanted to build architecture like he that, he looks at the row of houses opposite and he pictures them built entirely of plastic and glass, he imagines how people's lives might change if their dwellings shook with endless reflections of light, he does not know if it's possible but he thinks it's a nice idea”
“they’ve come here to dance, drawn sideways from their route home by the music and by bravado, and now they are hesitating, unsure of how to begin, unfamiliar with the steps, embarrassed.............they dance, and he smiles and nods and thinks of his wife sleeping at home, and thinks of when they were young and might still have done something like this………… but here, as the dawn sneaks up on the last day of summer, and as a man with tired hands watches a young couple dance in the carpark of his restaurant, there are only these: sparkling eyes, smudged lipstick, fading starlight, the crunching of feet on gravel, laughter, and a slow walk home……”
“Say excuse me but, really, I am actually very much in love with you.”
“The only clouds are pale and thin, hung as high as they can manage, like cobwebs in the high arches of a stairwell, and the sky is a freshly scrubbed blue, as permanent-looking as the first day of the holidays.”
“the rain falls, catching the trailing edges of net curtains which flow out of open windows like fishing nets lowered over the backs of boats, nets hung neatly between the outside and the in, keeping floundering secrets firmly hidden...”
“But there are people too he says, everywhere there are people and I think it is easier to hold hands with people than it is with angels, yes?”
“It makes me feel primitive, rooted, connected to the dirt of the earth and the light of the stars, a spun thread pulled across the span of generations.”
“And I say too much of what, he says too much of everything, too much stuff, too many places, too much information, too many people, too much of things for there to be too much of, there is too much to know and I don't know where to begin but I want to try.”
A notte fonda scende il silenzio sulla città, ma è il più effimero dei silenzi, appena un attimo di esistazione fra sistole e diastole, il buio fra un battito di ciglia. Torna sempre questo momento segreto, la pausa inattesa, come un istante di esitazione, mentre il giorno vecchio muore e ne sorge uno nuovo. Perfino il gasometro sembra trattenere il respiro prima di riprendere le esalazioni.
Un sibilio impercettibile, e i termostati fermano le ventole di tutti i condizionatori.
Ci sono sempre momenti così, ma è raro che qualcuno se ne accorga, perchè di solito non durano che il tempo di un pensiero.
E ora ci troviamo in uno di quei momenti, nel silenzio della città, per una volta immobile.”
“And she doesn't understand why he doesn't want to put out his medal like a trophy. And he can't tell her that he liberated Europe with a spade.”
“Figlia mia, dice l'uomo con un tono di voce in cui è racchiuso tutto l'amore di cui è capace, figlia mia, cerca sempre di guardare con tutti e due gli occhi, ascolta sempre con tutte e due le orecchie. Questo è un grande mondo e ci sono molte, molte cose che potrebbero sfuggirti se non vi presti attenzione. In ogni momento succedono cose meravigliose proprio davanti a noi, ma i nostri occhi assomigliano al sole quando è velato dalle nuvole, e allora le nostre vite diventano scialbe e desolate, perchè non riusciamo a vedere la realtà per quello che è davvero.
Se nessuno parla mai di cose meravigliose, come possono avvenire cose meravigliose?”
“Sastra adalah suatu gambar, yaitu dalam suatu segi adalah gambar dan cermin; ekspresi hasrat, semacam kritik halus, suatu anjuran untuk belajar dan suatu dokumen”
“Under the caverned pyramids great Set coils asleep; Among the shadows of the tombs his dusky people creep. I speak the Word from the hidden gulfs that never knew the sun Send me a servant for my hate, oh scaled and shining One!”
“he gets this glinty Donald Trump look in his eyes, like in the old cartoons where someone gets a greedy brainstorm, blinks, and we hear the sound of a cash register and see the dollar signs in his eyes.”
“She had what the Councillor knew, in the technical language of the ballet, as "ballon", a lightness that is not only the negation of weight, but which actually seems to carry upwards and make for flight, and which is rarely found in thin dancers - as if the matter itself had here become lighter than air, so that the more there is of it the better it works.”
“Winston Churchill said, "Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”
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