“Have you ever hoped for something? And held out for it against all the odds? Until everything you did was ridiculous? ”
“One day, I learned that a single look can change everything. And since then I have seen it countless times. I have grappled to understand it and failed. For instance, all it took was a look from another man for my wife to fall out of love with me. It baffles me that a simple alignment of eyes can cause so much devastation.”
“It didn’t take tragedy or war to derail a man. It took only a memory.”
“She had felt a collision with him and known that she had wanted this her whole life: to crash for just one moment into another person at such a velocity as to fuse with him.”
“Writing is like going underwater - thank you for being there when I come back up.”
“I should take a photo.'
'No. Just remember it, and us in it.”
“He imagined dying and being cut open and there were all his bones and muscles and his bared arteries and capillaries leading to a cavity in his chest where instead of a heart he had his camera.”
“Then there were the negatives. How he missed negatives. They were the actual rays of light, bounced straight off a landscape, an object, a person, and scarred on to the film. Photographic negatives were the hardest evidence you could get of your memories. They were the char left by the fire, the bruise left on your skin. The same light that carried to your eyes, on the day of your photograph, that image of your mother, or your father, or your close friend, had recorded itself on the film. And now, staring at the photo on the wall of Ida's transparent toes against the bed sheets, he thought how similar her feet were to negatives: both subjects of that half-world between memory and the present. These were not real, flexible, treading toes, but a play of light that showed where toes had been.”
“Carefully, he reached around her with both arms so his fingers locked across her back.
'You have to squeeze,' she whispered, 'or it's not a hug.”
“Sometimes I just can't stop thinking enough to turn off.”
“The sunset like a blacksmith, was beating the sky into glowing red blades.”
“After a long while he sat upright with great effort, exhaled a sigh and reached for a clean sheet of lined paper, smoothing it out on the desk. He unscrewed the lid of his fountain pen, laid it perpendicular to his paper, and began to write. Often he compared his writing to white water. He had only to leap in to be dragged away on its rapids, thrown this way and that with his own will rendered impotent. While writing he found the words came from the muscles in his hands, the feel of the shaft of his pen, the locked joint of his elbow. the scratching noise of the nib marking paper and, underneath all that, some coordinating impulse in his guts. Certainly not from his mind.”
“Sometimes Midas suspected that life was a film with subliminal messages. Things would move along with an acceptable degree of predictability, then be punctuated by some horrible childhood memory.”
“It was just her and Midas in here, tucked away from the world. Here she could turn quietly into glass, with only love to distract her.”
“Memories were just photos printed on synapses.”
“His father looked wistful. 'And you don't feel anticlimatic?'
Somewhat the opposite of elated.'
What's elated again?'
Good feelings. That is to say, very good. You can feel, can't you? That's what I'm driving at. You don't ever wonder... where feeling went?”
“Dust particles panicked and swarmed in the light.”
“Perhaps you think too hard about what words you're going to use and how to make your mouth say them.”
“As if you could terminate love abruptly because the one you loved signed papers with someone else in a church.”
“He’d been an odd one, that boy with the camera. Such a distinctive physique: pale skin so taut on his skeleton, holding himself with a shy hunch, not ugly as such but certainly not handsome, with a demeanor eager to cause no trouble, to attract no attention.”
“Her toes were pure glass. Smooth, clear, shining glass. Glinting crescents of light edged each toenail and each crease between the joints of each digit. Seen through her toes, the silver spots on the bed sheet diffused into metallic vapours.”
“She sometimes wished she possessed the flawed kind of taste that drew girls to arseholes who wanted that one thing alone.”
“The woods felt like a sleeping monster worth tiptoeing past.”
“Besides, he didn't have enough intact heartstrings to hand them to people to pull.”
“Wenn du in's Fettnäpfchen getreten bist und jemand dir freundlicherweise die Hand hinstreckt, um dich da rauszuholen, dann solltest du die Hilfe vielleicht annehmen, anstatt dich auch noch darin zu wälzen.”
“Beeches stood aghast in pools of shed leaves. Silver poplars looked like moonbeams.”
“Was she horrid to you? I hate her if she was horrid.”
“It was the touch that made him realize he loved her. Warmth from her scalp. Grease from her locks. He entwined his hand in her hair. It shrank through his moving fingers like sand. They lay together for a long time. Somewhere outside, a dog barked. He could barely believe he had lived so long without wanting to touch. Photography had made him forget the necessity of this feeling.”
“Her toes were pure glass. Smooth, clear, shining glass. Glinting crescents of light edged each toenail and each crease between the joints of each digit. Seen through her toes, the silver spots on the bed sheet diffused into metallic vapors. The ball of her foot was glass too, but murkier, losing its transparency in a gradient until, near her ankle, it reached skin: matte and flesh toned like any other.”
“I should take a photo.”
“No. Just remember it, and us in it.”
She smiled. Here was rightness of place and time.”
“I smirk at her and let my eyes graze over her body."I don't know how to be friends with someone I'm attracted to.”
“In his endless journeys of exploration, crawling on all fours around the Urals and the Amazon and the Australian archipelagos which the furniture of the house was to him, sometimes he no longer knew where he was. And he would be found under the sink in the kitchen, ecstatically observing a patrol of cockroaches as if they were wild colts on the prairie. He even recognized a ttar in a gob of spit.
But nothing had the power to make him rejoice as much as Nino's presence. It seemed that, in his opinion, Nino concentrated in himself the total festivity of the world, which everywhere else was to be found scattered and divided. For in Giuseppe's eyes, Nino represented by himself all the myriad colors, and the glow of fireworks, and every species of fantastic and lovable animal, and carnival shows. Mysteriously, he could sense Nino's arrival from the moment when he began the ascent of the stairs! And he would hurry immediately, as fast as he could with his method, toward the entrance, repeating ino ino, in an almost dramatic rejoicing of all his limbs. At times, even, when Nino came home late at night, he, sleeping, would stir slightly at the sound of the key, and with a trusting little smile he would murmur in a faint voice: Ino.”
“War thoughts again. I think back to the business cards from that health shop earlier on. I think about miniature wars that individuals fight all the time. They fight against cellulite, or negative emotions, or addictions, or stress. I think about how we can now hire all different sorts of mercenaries to help us fight against ourselves…Therapists, manicurists, hairdressers, personal trainers, life coaches. But what’s it all for? What do all these little wars achieve? Although it is a part of my life too, and I want to be thin and pretty and not laughed at in the street and not so stressed and mad that I start screaming on the tube, it suddenly seems a little bit ridiculous. All the time we do these things we are trying to enlist ourselves into a bigger war. We are trying to join up, constantly, with the enemy.
Hitler tried to impose his shiny, blonde, neat, sparkling world on us all and we resisted. So how is it that when McDonald’s and Disney and The Gap and L’Oreal and all the others try to do the same thing we all just say, ‘OK’? Hitler needed marketing, that’s all. His propaganda was, of course, brilliant for its time, everyone knows that. What a great idea, to make people feel that they belong to something, that their identity makes them special. If Hilter had bee able to enlist a twenty-first-century marketing department, would he have been able to sell Nazism to everyone? Why not? You can just see a beautiful, thin woman with her long blonde hair moving softly in the breezes, and the tagline ‘Because I’m worth it’.”
“This [for opposition leaders to claim royal lineage], in a world ruled by a republic, was what revolution had come to mean.”
“What do I have to do to convince you I’m the one you should run to, not away from? Tell me and I’ll do it.”
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