“There is a time for reciting poems and a time for fists.”
“Nothing happened today. And if anything did, I’d rather not talk about it, because I didn’t understand it.”
“we interpret life at moments of the deepest desperation.”
“Write in the morning, revise in the afternoon, read at night, and spend the rest of your time exercising your diplomacy, stealth, and charm.”
“Poetry and prison have always been neighbors.”
“I'm an educated man, the prisons I know are subtle ones.”
“I kept having dreams all night. I thought they were touching me with their fingers. But dreams don't have fingers, they have fists, so it must have been scorpions.”
“Being alone makes us stronger. That’s the honest truth. But it’s cold comfort, since even if I wanted company no one will come near me anymore.”
“Every book in the world is out there waiting to be read by me.”
“In some lost fold of the past, we wanted to be lions and we're no more than castrated cats”
“There's a time for reciting poems and a time for fists. As far as I was concerned, this was the latter.”
“For a while, Criticism travels side by side with the Work, then Criticism vanishes and it's the Readers who keep pace. The journey may be long or short. Then the Readers die one by one and the Work continues on alone, although a new Criticism and new Readers gradually fall into step with it along its path. Then Criticism dies again and the Readers die again and the Work passes over a trail of bones on its journey toward solitude. To come near the work, to sail in her wake, is a sign of certain death, but new Criticism and new Readers approach her tirelessly and relentlessly and are devoured by time and speed. Finally the Work journeys irremediably alone in the Great Vastness. And one day the Work dies, as all things must die and come to an end: the Sun and the Earth and the Solar System and the Galaxy and the farthest reaches of man's memory. Everything that begins as comedy ends in tragedy.”
“Of all the islands he'd visited, two stood out. The island of the past, he said, where the only time was past time and the inhabitants were bored and more or less happy, but where the weight of illusion was so great that the island sank a little deeper into the river every day. And the island of the future, where the only time was the future, and the inhabitants were planners and strivers, such strivers, said Ulises, that they were likely to end up devouring one another.”
“You can woo a girl with a poem, but you can't hold onto her with a poem. Not even with a poetry movement.”
“We're artists too, but we do a good job hiding it, don't we?”
“Literature isn't innocent. I've known that since I was fifteen.”
“Drink up, boys, drink up and don’t worry, if we finish this bottle we’ll go down and buy another one. Of course, it won’t be the same as the one we’ve got now, but it’ll still be better than nothing. Ah, what a shame they don’t make Los Suicidas mezcal anymore, what a shame that time pases, don’t you think? what a shame that we die, and get old, and everything good goes galloping away from us.”
“In a brief moment of lucidity, I was sure that we'd all gone crazy. But then that moment of lucidity was displaced by a supersecond of superlucidity (if I can put it that way), in which I realized that this scene was the logical outcome of our ridiculous lives. It wasn't a punishment but a new wrinkle. It gave us a glimpse of ourselves in our common humanity. It wasn't proof of our idle guilt but a sign of our miraculous and pointless innocence. But that's not it. That's not it. We were still and they were in motion and the sand on the beach was moving, not because of the wind but because of what they were doing and what we were doing, which was nothing, which was watching, and all of that together was the wrinkle, the moment of superlucidity. Then, nothing.”
“Life left us all where we were meant to be or where it was convenient to leave us and then forgot us, which is as it should be.”
“Supe entonces, con humildad, con perplejidad, en un arranque de mexicanidad absoluta, que estábamos gobernados por el azar y que en esa tormenta todos nos ahogaríamos, y supe que sólo los más astutos, no yo ciertamente, iban a mantenerse a flote un poco más de tiempo.”
“There are books for when you’re bored. Plenty of them. There are books for when you’re calm. The best kind, in my opinion. There are also books for when you’re sad. And there are books for when you’re happy. There are books for when you’re thirsty for knowledge. And there are books for when you’re desperate.”
“Qué lástima que pase el tiempo ¿verdad?, qué lástima que nos muramos y que nos hagamos viejos y que las cosas buenas se vayan alejando de nosotros al galope.”
“I’m seventeen years old, my name is Juan García Madero, and I’m in my first semester of law school. I wanted to study literature, not law, but my uncle insisted, and in the end I gave in. I’m an orphan, and someday I’ll be a lawyer. That’s what I told my aunt and uncle, and then I shut myself in my room and cried all night.”
“Not only to myself or before the mirror or at the hour of my death, which I hope will be long in coming, but in the presence of my children and my wife and in the face of the peaceful life I’m building, I must acknowledge: (1) That under Stalin I wouldn’t have wasted my youth in the gulag or ended up with a bullet in the back of my head. (2) That in the McCarthy era I wouldn’t have lost my job or had to pump gas at a gas station. (3) That under Hitler, however, I would have been one of those who chose the path of exile, and that under Franco I wouldn’t have composed sonnets to the caudillo or the Holy Virgin like so many lifelong democrats. One thing is as true as the other. My bravery has its limits, certainly, but so does what I’m willing to swallow. Everything that begins as comedy ends as tragicomedy.”
“Hay momentos para recitar poesías y hay momentos para boxear.”
“Which is to say, boys, that I saw our struggles and dreams all tangled up in the same failure, and that failure was called joy.”
“The demented strutting of a dumb bird in the moonlight.”
“A person could be immensely happy reading only him or the writers he loved. But that would be too easy.”
“One of the inconveniences of stealing books—especially for a novice like myself—is that sometimes you have to take what you can get.”
“I didn't hit her, man, what happened was that Maria was obsessed with the Marquis de Sade and wanted to try the spanking thing," said Luscious Skin.
"That's very Maria," said Pancho. "She takes her reading seriously.”
“The art of governing, Dickon, is that of making use of talent wherever you do find it. Trust is too rare an attribute to make it your prime prerequisite for holding office. If I relied only upon those I truly do trust, we'd have a council of empty chairs!”
“That was the difference, he had always known, between his faith and theirs, the political leaders of the people who cared only for things like the state, the republic: this child was more important than a whole continent.”
“The following day, July 18, there was a small paragraph at the bottom of an inside page of Le Figaro. It announced that in Paris the Deputy Chief of the Brigade Criminelle of the Police Judiciaire, Commissaire Hippolyte Dupuy, had suffered a severe stroke in his office at the Quai des Orfevres and had died on his way to hospital. A successor had been named. He was Commissaire Claude Lebel, Chief of the Homicide Division, and in view of the pressure of work on all the departments of the Brigade during the summer months, he would take up his new duties forthwith. The Jackal, who read every French newspaper available in London each day, read the paragraph after his eye had been caught by the word 'Criminelle' in the headline, but thought nothing of it.”
“But don't you hear what I've said?' David cried. 'It's this very vengeance and betrayal that's torn our country apart. Where will it end? If we believe in God, we must believe in a divine justice that in time will restore sanity.'
'I have no time,' said Mireille. 'I will not wait for God.”
“Raisa felt relieved, yet oddly disappointed. She was the blooded princess heir, yet in servants' clothes she was apparently unrecognizable. In the stories, rulers had a natural presence about them that identified them as such, even dressed in rags.
What's the nature of royalty, she wondered. Is it like a gown you put on that disappears when you take it off? Does anyone look beyond the finery? Could anyone in the queendom take her place, given the right accessories? If so, it was contrary to everything she'd ever been taught about bloodlines.”
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