Paul Collins · 224 pages
Rating: (2.3K votes)
“If a book cover has raised lettering, metallic lettering, or raised metallic lettering, then it is telling the reader: Hello. I am an easy-to-read work on espionage, romance, a celebrity, and/or murder. To readers who do not care for such things, this lettering tells them: Hello. I am crap.”
“Many people are partial to the notion that . . . all writers are somehow mere vessels for Truth and Beauty when they compose. That we are not really in control. This is a variation on that twee little fable that writers like to pass off on gullible readers, that a character can develop a will of his own and 'take over a book.' This makes writing sound supernatural and mysterious, like possession by faeries. The reality tends to involve a spare room, a pirated copy of MS Word, and a table bought on sale at Target. A character can no more take over your novel than an eggplant and a jar of cumin can take over your kitchen.”
“If you grew up in a rural area, you have seen how farmhouses come and go, but the dent left by cellars is permanent. There is something unbreakable in that hand-dug foundational gouge into the earth. Books are the cellars of civilization: when cultures crumble away, their books remain out of sheer stupid solidity.”
“Historically, dust jackets are a new concern for authors; you don't see them much before the 1920s. And dust jacket is a strange name for this contrivance, as if books had anything to fear from dust. If you store a book properly, standing up, then the jacket doesn't cover the one part of the book that is actually exposed to dust, which is the top of the pages. So a dust jacket is no such thing at all; it is really a sort of advertising wrapper, like the brown paper sheath on a Hershey's bar. On this wrapper goes the manufacturer's name, the ingredients--some blithering about unforgettable characters or gemlike prose or gripping narrative--and a brief summation of who does what to whom in our gripping, unforgettable, gemlike object.”
“Leatherbound books are an expensive form of wallpaper, and yet every English nobleman’s home seems to have had them. Their endless sets of the works of Cooper and Scott and Goethe, in finely tanned bindings with marbled endpapers, all end up with this sort of dealer sooner or later. I look through a set of Cooper and, without surprise, find uncut pages: these books were never actually read.”
“…I had a good title already. My book was originally called Loser: A Brief History of Notable Failures. But American publishers don’t like this. Losing is a bad thing in our country. It’s not allowed.”
“You see, literary culture is perpetually dead and dying; and when some respected writer discovers and loudly proclaims the finality of this fact, it is a forensic marker of their own decomposition. It means that they have artistically expired within the last ten years, and that they will corporeally expire within the next twenty.”
“What you mean to find matters less than what you do find.”
“I noticed you made a bee-line for their bookcases." It is the oldest and most incorrigible trait of the book-lover.”
“It really is an APPALLING thing to think of the people who have no books...It is only by books that most men and women can lift themselves above the sordidness of life. No books! Yet for the greater part of humanity that is the common lot. We may, in fact, divide our fellow-creatures into two branches - those who read books and those who do not.”
“first place that I can well remember was a large pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it. Some shady trees leaned over it, and rushes and water-lilies grew at the deep end. Over the hedge on one side we looked into a plowed field, and on the other we looked over a gate at our master's”
“To discover the mode of life or of art whereby my spirit could express itself in unfettered freedom.”
“I'm not a superstitious person, but when I wake up from this dream, this painfully clear memory of John, I have the most horrible feeling in my chest.
I would rather die than see them hurt you.
And I have a sudden fear that somehow, some way, what he said in the dream will come true.”
“My darling," she said at last, are you sure you don't mind being a mouse for the rest of your life?"
"I don't mind at all" I said.
It doesn't matter who you are or what you look like as long as somebody loves you.”
“He burst into one of his rare fits of laughter as he turned away from the picture. I have not heard him laugh often, and it has always boded ill to somebody.”
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