Thursday, June 30, 2011
This is definitely a charming older children's fantasy book!! Winnie Foster's family owns the Treegap Wood, and is unaware that there-in lies a spring whose water when consumed imparts everlasting life. The Tucks (Angus, Mae, Miles and Jesse) know this secret and would like to keep the knowledge (for good reasons) away from others... except maybe Winnie. Will Winnie take advantage of this amazing chance? Would you?
'The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot.'(opening lines)
'But things come together in strange ways. The wood was a the center, the hub of the wheel. All wheels must have a hub. A Ferris wheel has one, as the sun is the hub of the wheeling calendar. Fixed points they are, and best left undisturbed, for without them nothing holds together. But sometimes people find this out too late.'(4)
'Nothing ever seems interesting when it belongs to you -- only when it doesn't.'(7)
'In the end, however, it was the cows who were responsible for the wood's isolation, and the cows, through some wisdom they were not wise enough to know that they possessed, were very wise indeed. If they had made their road through the wood instead of around it, then the people would have followed the road. The people would have noticed the giant ash trees at the center of the wood, and then, in time, they'd noticed the little spring bubbling up among its roots in spite of the pebbles piled there to conceal it. And that would have been a disaster so immense that this weary old earth, owned or not to its fiery cone, would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin.'(8)
'Mae Tuck didn't need a mirror, though she had one propped up on the washstand. She knew very well what she would see in it; her reflection had long since ceased to interest her. For Mae Tuck, and her husband, and Miles and Jesse, too, had all looked exactly the same for eighty-seven years.'(12)
'For the wood was full of light, entirely different from the light she was used to. It was green and amber and alive, quivering in splotches on the padded ground, fanning into sturdy stripes between the tree trunks. There were little flowers she did not recognize, white and palest blue; and endless, tangled vines; and here and there a fallen log, half rotted but soft with patches of sweet green-velvet moss.
And there were creatures everywhere. The air fairly hummed with their daybreak activity: beetles and birds and squirrels and ants, and countless other things unseen, all gentle and self-absorbed and not in the least alarming. There was even, she saw with satisfaction, the toad.'(24)
"We don't know how it works, or even why," said Miles.
"Pa thinks it's something left over from -- well, from some other plan for the way the world should be," said Jesse. "Some plan that didn't work out too good. And so everything was changed. Except that the spring was passed over, somehow or other."(41)
"Life's got to be lived, no matter how long or short," she said calmly. "You got to take what comes. We just go along, like everybody else, one day at a time."(54)
"Know what happens then?" said Tuck. "To the water? The sun sucks some of it up right out of the ocean and carries it back in clouds, and then it rains, and the rain falls into the stream, and the stream keeps moving on, taking it all back again. It's a wheel, Winnie. Everything's a wheel, turning it, and the bugs, and the fish, and the wood thrush, too. And people. But never the same ones. Always coming in new, always growing and changing, and always moving on. That's the way it's supposed to be. That's the way it is."(62)
"The way I see it," Miles went on, "it's no good hiding yourself away, like Pa and lots of other people. And it's no good just thinking of your own pleasure, either. People got to do something useful if they're going to take up space in the world."(86-87)
First Square Fish Edition 2007
Book qualifies for: 100+ Reading Challenge
Book idea from Melissa@ The Avid Reader's Musings (thanks!!)
Literary Giveaway Blog Hop Winner:
After assigning numbers 1-187 to the valid entries (comments with an e-mail address) in the order that they were posted (minus any duplications), the winning number picked through Random.org is:
#115 - stacybuckeye
Congratulations!! Thanks to all who participated.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
In this sublime and poetic novel, we meet Stephen Kumalo, a black Anglican priest who travels from his small village of Ixtapo (Ndotsheni) to Johannesburg, to look for his younger sister Gertrude and son Absalom. Tragically, he soon learns that Absalom has been accused of killing Arthur Jarvis, the son of their white neighbor James Jarvis. Arthur is in Johannesburg to fulfill his dream of fighting racial inequality. It is his through his writings, as read by his father Jarvis after his death, that the author's passionate love for his country of South Africa shines through. A very moving and thought-provoking book.
'There is a lovely road that runs from Ixtapo into the hills. These hills are grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it. The road climbs seven miles into them, to Carisbrooke; and from there, if there is no mist, you look down on one of the fairest valleys of Africa.'(opening lines)
'All roads lead to Johannesburg. Through the long nights the trains pass to Johannesburg. The lights of the swaying coach fall on the cutting-sides, on the grass and the stones of a country that sleeps. Happy the eyes that can close.'(11)
'They must go on, said Msimangu gravely. You cannot stop the world from going on. My friend, I am a Christian. It is not in my heart to hate a white man. It was a white man who brought my father out of darkness. But you will pardon me if I talk frankly to you. The tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that they are not mended again.'(25)
'Yes, there are a hundred, and a thousand voices crying. But what does one do, when one cries this thing, and one cries another? Who knows how we shall fashion a land of peace where black outnumbers white so greatly? Some say that the earth has bounty enough for all, and that more for one does not mean less for another, that the advance of one does not mean the decline of another.'(78)
'Who knows how we shall fashion such a land? For we fear not only the loss of our possessions, but the loss of our superiority and the loss of our whiteness. Some say it is true that crime is bad, but would this not be worse? Is it not better to hold what we have, and to pay the price of it with fear? And others say, can such fear be endured? For is it not this fear that drives men to ponder these things at all?'(79)
'Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much.'(80)
'And while there is life, there is hope for amendment of life.'(106)
'It was permissible to allow the destruction of a tribal system that impeded the growth of the country. It was permissible that its destruction was inevitable. But it is not permissible to watch its destruction, and to replace it by nothing, or by so little, that a whole people deteriorates, physically and morally.'(146)
'The truth is that our Christian civilization is riddled through and through with dilemma. We believe in the brotherhood of man, but we do not want it in South Africa. We believe that God endows men with diverse gifts and that human life depends for its fullness on their employment and enjoyment, but we are afraid to explore this belief too deeply. We believe in help for the underdog, but we want him to stay under.'(154)
'One can hear, as I heard when I was a boy, that there are more Afrikaners than English-speaking people in South Africa, and yet knowing nothing, see nothing, of them at all. One can read, as I read when I was a boy, the brochures about lovely South Africa, that land of sun and beauty sheltered from the storms of the world, and feel pride in it and love it, and yet know nothing about it at all. It is only as one grows up that one learns that there are other things here than sun and gold and oranges. It is only then that one learns of the hates and fears of our country. It is only then that one's love grows deep and passionate, as a man may love a woman who is true, false, cold, loving, cruel and afraid.'(174)
'Therefore I shall devote myself, my time, my energy, my talents, to the service of South Africa. I shall no longer ask myself if this or that is expedient, but only if it is right. I shall do this, not because I am noble or unselfish, but because life slips away, and because I need for the rest of my journey a star that will not play false to me, a compass that will not lie. I shall do this, not because I am a negrophile and a hater of my own, but because I cannot find it in me to do anything else. I am lost when I balance this against that, I am lost when I ask if this is safe, I am lost when I ask if men, white men or black men, Englishmen or Afrikaners, Gentiles or Jews, will approve. Therefore I shall try to do what is right, and to speak what is true.'(175)
'At those dread words the boy fell on the floor, he was crouched in the way that some of the Indians pray, and he began to sob, with great tearing sounds that convulsed him. For a boy is afraid of death. The old man, moved to it by that deep compassion which was there within him, knelt by his son, and ran his hand over his head.
-- Be of courage, my son.'(207)
'Yes, it is the dawn that has come. The titihoya wakes from sleep, and goes about its work of forlorn crying. The sun tips with light the mountains of Ingeli and East Griqualand. The great valley of the Umzimkul is still in darkness, but the light will come there. Ndotsheni is still in darkness, but the light will come there also. For it is the dawn that has come, as it has come for a thousand centuries, never failing. But when that dawn will come, of our emancipation, from the fear of bondage and the bondage of fear, why, that is a secret.'(closing lines)
First Scribner Classic/Collier Edition 1986
Book qualifies for:100+ Reading Challenge
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
This is an equally engaging and emotional sequel to the YA book, If I Stay (which of course one must read first in order to enjoy this second book). Effectively told through Adam's voice, three years after his traumatic break-up with Mia, this book definitely delivers and completes the series. Now living on opposite sides of the country, Adam in Los Angeles and Mia in New York, pursuing their opposite musical careers, Adam a rock vocalist/songwriter and Mia a classical Cellist, they meet by chance one powerful night...
'Every morning I wake up and I tell myself this: It's just one day, one twenty-four-hour period to get yourself through. I don't know when exactly I started giving myself this daily pep talk -- or why.'(opening lines)
'Science of agita-rock? This self-important wankjob deconstructionist crap was something that really threw me in the beginning. As far as I was concerned, I wrote songs: chords and beats and lyrics, verses and bridges and hooks. But then, as we got bigger, people began to dissect the songs like a frog from biology class until there was nothing left but guts -- tiny parts, so much less than the sum.'(13)
'I throw down my credit card and enter the cool, dim theater. I slide into my seat and close my eyes, remembering the last time I went to a cello concert somewhere this fancy. Five years ago, on our first date. Just as I did that night, I feel this mad rush of anticipation, even though I know that unlike that night, tonight I won't kiss her. Or touch her. Or even see her up close. ... Tonight, I'll listen. And that'll be enough.'(38)
'My first impulse is not to grab her or kiss her or yell at her. I simply want to cut through the space that separates us, measured in feet -- not miles, not continents, not years -- and to take a callused finger to her face... But I can't touch her. This is a privilege that's been revoked.'(52)
'Ever hear the one about the dog that spent its life chasing cars and finally caught one -- and had no idea what to do with it? ... I'm that dog.'(91)
'I've never been to the Statue of Liberty. Too many crowds. Aldous once invited me on a private helicopter tour, but I don't do choppers. But now that she's right here, I can see why this is on Mia's list. In pictures, the statue always looks kind of grim, determined. But up close, she's softer. She has a look on her face, like she knows something you don't.'(156)
'She said it was because one day I was going to have to go through a metamorphosis like a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly and that scared me, so butterflies scared me.'(174)
'Quitting's not hard. Deciding to quit is hard. Once you make that mental leap, the rest is easy.'(182)
'And there it is. A hollow blown through my heart, confirming what some past of me has always known.
'Letting go. Everyone talks about it like it's the easiest thing. Unfurl your fingers one by one until your hand is open. But my hand has been clenched into a fist for three yeas now; it's frozen shut. All of me is frozen shut. And about to shut down completely.'(189)
'Mick Jagger is crooning away and I practically have to bite my lip to keep from singing along. It used to be I never went anywhere without my tunes. And then it was like everything else, take it or leave it. But now I'll take it. Now I need it.'(202)
'But I'd do it again. I know that now. I'd make that promise a thousand times over and lose her a thousand times over to have heard her play last night or to see her in the morning sunlight. Or even without that. Just to know that she's somewhere out there. Alive.'(215)
'I look around for my favorite mug, the one with the dancing coffeepots on it, and I am so damn happy to find it's still there. It's almost like having my picture on the wall, too. A little piece of me still exists, even if the largest part of me can't.'(225)
'First you inspect me
Then you dissect me
Then you reject me
I wait for the day
That you'll resurrect me
COLLATERAL DAMAGE, TRACK 1'(255)
Dutton Books First Hardcover Edition
Book borrowed from the library
Book qualifies for:100+ Reading Challenge
Congratulations and hope you enjoy the books.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
The scariest part of reading this true-crime masterpiece (credited to have started the genre of investigative journalism) is the fact that it IS non-fiction and therefore, a mind boggling reminder that truly evil people do exist around us. On one ordinary day, November 15, 1959, the safety and tranquility of the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, ceases to exist forever. Two ex-convicts, Dick Hickock and Perry Smith, in search of easy money, brutally murder the innocent Clutter family --devoted husband and successful farmer, Herb, his fragile wife, Bonnie, and their innocent teenage children, Nancy and Kenyon.
'The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas call "out there." Some seventy miles east of the Colorado border, the countryside, with its hard blue skies and desert-clear air, has an atmosphere that is rather more Far West than Middle West.'(opening lines)
'Until one morning in mid-November of 1959, few Americans -- in fact, few Kansans -- had ever heard of Holcomb. Like the waters of the river, like the motorists on the highway, and like the yellow trains streaking down the Santa Fe tracks, drama, in the shape of exceptional happenings, had never stopped there. The inhabitants of the village, numbering two hundred and seventy, were satisfied that this should be so, quite content to exist inside ordinary life -- to work, to hunt, to watch television, to attend school socials, choir practice, meetings of the 4-H club. But then, in the earliest hours of that morning in November, a Sunday morning, certain foreign sounds impinged on the normal nightly Holcomb noises -- on the keening hysteria of coyotes, the dry scrape of scuttling tumbleweed, the racing, receding wail of locomotive whistles. At the time not a soul in sleeping Holcomb heard them -- four shotgun blasts that, all told, ended six human lives. But afterward the townspeople, theretofore sufficiently unfearful of each other to seldom trouble to lock their doors, found fantasy re-creating them over and again -- those somber explosions that stimulated fires of mistrust in the glare of which many neighbors viewed each other strangely, and as strangers.'(5)
'Perry described a murder, telling how, simply for "the hell of it," he had killed a colored man in Las Vegas -- beaten him to death with a bicycle chain. The anecdote elevated Dick's opinion of Little Perry; he began to see more of him, and like Willie-Jay, though for dissimilar reasons, gradually decided that Perry possessed unusual and valuable qualities. Several murderers, or men who boasted of murder or their willingness to commit it, circulated inside Lansing; but Dick became convinced that Perry was that rarity, " a natural killer" -- absolutely sane, but conscienceless, and capable of dealing, with or without motive, the coldest-blooded deathblows. It was Dick's theory that such a gift could, under his supervision, be profitably exploited.'(54-55)
'If there's somebody loose around here that wants to cut my throat, I wish him luck. What difference does it make? It's all the same in eternity. Just remember: If one bird carried every grain of sand, grain by grain, across the ocean, by the time he got tham all on the other side, that would only be the beginning of eternity.'(69)
"Around here," according to the proprietor of one Garden City hardware store, "locks and bolts are the fastest-going item. Folks ain't particular what brand they buy; they just want them to hold." Imagination, of course, can open any door -- turn the key and let terror walk right in. Tuesday, at dawn, a carload of pheasant hunters from Colorado -- strangers, ignorant of the local disaster -- were startled by what they saw as they crossed the prairies and passed through Holcomb: windows ablaze, almost every window in almost every house, and in brightly lit rooms, fully clothed people, even entire families, who had sat the whole night wide awake, watchful, listening. Of what were they frightened? "It might happen again." That, with variations, was the customary response.'(88)
'But Herb was gone. And Bonnie too. Her bedroom window overlooked the garden, and now and then, usually when she was "having a bad spell," Mr. Helm had seen her stand long hours gazing into the garden, as though what she saw bewitched her. ("When I was a girl," she had once told a friend, "I was terribly sure trees and flowers were the same as birds or people. That they thought things, and talked among themselves. And we could hear them if we really tired. It was just a matter of emptying your head of all other sounds. Being very quiet and listening very hard. Sometimes I still believe that. But one can never get quiet enough...')'(121-122)
'There is no shame -- having a dirty face -- the shame comes when you keep it dirty.'(140)
'Prognosis: correspondence between you and your sister cannot serve anything but a purely social function. Keep the theme of your letters within the scope of her understanding. Do not unburden your private conclusions. Do not put her on the defensive and not permit her to put you on the defensive. Respect her limitations to comprehend your objectives, and remember that she is touchy towards the criticism of your Dad. Be consistent in your attitude towards her and do not add anything to the impression she has that you are weak, not because you need her good-will but because you can expect more letters like this, and they can only serve to increase your already dangerous anti-social instincts.'(145)
'"What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is a breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is as the little shadow that runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset." -- Said by Chief Crowfoot, Blackfoot Indian Chief.
This last entry was written in red ink and decorated with a border of green-ink stars; the anthologist wished to emphasize its "personal significance." "A breath of a buffalo in the wintertime" -- that exactly evoked his view of life. Why worry? What was there to "sweat about"? Man was nothing, a mist, a shadow absorbed by shadows.'(147)
'Cullivan probed, trying to gauge the depth of what he assumed would be Perry's condition. Surely he must be experiencing a remorse sufficiently profound to summon a desire for God's mercy and forgiveness? Perry said, "Am I sorry? If that's what you mean -- I'm not. I don't feel anything about it. I wish I did. But nothing about it bothers me a bit. Half an hour after it happened, Dick was making jokes and I was laughing at them. Maybe we're not human. I'm human enough to feel sorry for myself.'(291)
First Vintage International Edition, February 1994
Book qualifies for: 100+ Reading Challenge
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Another YA book I thoroughly enjoyed, a book so simple and yet so capable of exploring bittersweet emotions. Mia is a seventeen year old gifted cellist who is the lone survivor of a tragic accident that kills her entire family. She sees herself in a coma and on death's bed. She recalls touching scenes and memories of her musical family, her loving parents and her brother Teddy. She sees her family, friends, and her boyfriend Adam's grief as they realize the uncertainty that they might also lose her. And she is faced with the decision: to fight to stay, or to let go.
'Everyone thinks it was because of the snow. And in a way, I suppose that's true. '(opening lines)
'Just like the Shooting Star's meteoric rise, my admission to Juilliard -- if it happens -- will create certain complications, or, more accurately, would compound the complications that have already cropped up in the last few months.'(6-7)
"I've never seen anyone get as into music as you do. It's why I like to watch you practice. You get the cutest crease in your forehead, right there." Adam said, touching me above the bridge of my nose. "I'm obsessed with music and even I don't get transported like you do."(33)
'And it's while contemplating this that I think about what the nurse said. She's running the show. And suddenly I understand what Gramps was really asking Gran. He had listened to that nurse, too . He got it before I did.
If I stay. If I live. It's up to me.'(73)
'My aversion to Adam's shows had nothing to do with music or groupies or envy. It had to do with the doubts. The same niggling doubts I always had about not belonging. I didn't feel like I belonged with Adam, except unlike my family, who was stuck with me, Adam had chosen me, and this I didn't understand. Why had he fallen for me? It didn't make sense. I knew it was music that brought us together in the first place, put us in the same space so we could even get to know each other. And I knew that Adam liked how into music I was. And that he dug my sense of humor, "so dark you almost miss it," he said. And, speaking of dark, I knew he had a thing for dark-haired girls because all of his girlfriends had been brunettes. And I knew that when it was the two of us alone together, we could talk for hours, or sit reading side by side for hours, each one plugged into our own iPod, and still feel completely together. I understood all that in my head, but I still didn't believe it in my heart. When I was with Adam, I felt picked, chosen, special, and that just made me wonder why me? even more.'(78)
'Kim and I have this theory that almost everything in the world can be divided into two groups.
There are people who like classical music. People who like pop. There are city people. And country people. Coke drinkers. Pepsi drinkers. There are conformists and free-thinkers. Virgins and nonvirgins. And there are the kind of girls who have boyfriends in high school, and the kind of girls who don't.'(90-91)
'Kim looked at my red and teary face and her expression softened into a gentle smile. "We know that, Mia. But we're from different parts of your life, just like music and me are from different parts of your life. And that's fine. You don't have to choose one or the other, at least not as far as I'm concerned."'(97)
'I don't know exactly what's happened to me, and for the first time today, I don't really care. I shouldn't have to work this hard. I realize now that dying is easy. Living is hard.'(146)
'Gramps doesn't wipe his face or blow his nose. He just lets the tears fall where they may...
"It's okay," he tells me. "If you want to go. Everyone wants you to stay. I want you to stay more than I've ever wanted anything in my life."... "But that's what I want and I could see why it might not be what you want. So I just wanted to tell you that I understand if you go. It's okay if you have to leave us. It's okay if you have to stop fighting.'(151-152)
'Dad's lyrics were not just rhymes. They were something else. There was one song in particular called "Waiting for Vengeance" that I listened to it so much that I started singing it to myself without even realizing it....
Well, what was that?
What's that sound that I hear?
It's just my lifetime
It's just whistling past my ear
And when I look back
Everything seems smaller than life
The way it's been for so long
Since last night...'(158)
'Adam is mumbling something now. In a low voice. Over and over he is saying: Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please Please. Please. Please. Finally he stops and looks at my face. "Please, Mia," he implores. "Don't make me write a song."'(165-166)
"Just listen," he says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.
I open my eyes wide now. I sit up as much as I can. And I listen.
"Stay." With that one word, Adam's voice catches, but he swallows the emotion and pushes forward.'(192)
'It is Yo-Yo-Ma playing. Andante con poco e moto rubato. The low piano plays almost as it in warning. In comes the cello, like a heart bleeding. And it's like something inside of me implodes.'(193-194)
Dutton Books Edition
Book borrowed from the library
Book qualifies for: 100+ Reading Challenge
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Set during WWII in the fictional island of Pianosa, Italy, this hilarious satirical novel follows the lives of Yossarian (the protagonist) and other enlisted men and officers (notable characters for me: Milo, Doctor Daneeka, Major Major, Colonel Cathcart, Snowden and Chaplain Tappman) of the U.S. Army Air Forces 256th Bombardment Squadron. Under the guise of laugh-out-loud scenes with superb contradicting and absurd dialogues are the many themes that the book deals with - heroism, faith, justice, greed, power, personal integrity, morality and American bureaucracy.
'It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell in love with him.'(opening lines)
'The colonel dwelt in a vortex of specialists who were still specializing in trying to determine what was troubling him. They hurled needles into nerves to hear if he could feel. There was a urologist for his urine, a lymphologist for his lymph, an endocrinologist for his endocrines, a psychologist for his psyche, a dermatologist for his derma; there was a pathologist for his pathos, a cytologist for his cysts, and a bald and pedantic cetologist from the zoology department at Harvard who had been shanghaied ruthlessly into the Medical Corps by a faulty mode in an I.B.M. machine and spent his sessions with the dying colonel trying to discuss Moby Dick with him.'(15)
'Clevinger conceded unwillingly in s subdued tone. "Maybe a long life does have to be filled with many unpleasant conditions if it's to seem long. But in that event, who wants one?"
"I do," Dunbar told him.
"Why?" Clevinger asked.
"What else is there?"(39)
'There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more mission and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them., If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.'(46)
'Everyone agreed that Clevinger was certain to go far in the academic world. In short, Clevinger was one of those people with lots of intelligence and no brains, and everyone knew it except those who soon found it out. In short, he was a dope.'(68)
'Major Major had been born too late and too mediocre. Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. With Major Major it had been all three. Even among men lacing all distinction he inevitably stood out as a man lacking more distinction than all the rest, and people who met him were always impressed by how unimpressive he was.
Major Major had three strikes on him from the beginning -- his mother, his father and Henry Fonda, to whom he bore a sickly resemblance almost form the moment of his birth.'(83)
'What can you possibly say to him? Major Major wondered forlornly. One thing he could not say was that there was nothing he could do. To say there was nothing he could do would suggest he would do something if he could and imply the existence of an error or injustice in Colonel Korn's policy. Colonel Korn had been most explicit about that. He must never say there was nothing he could do.
"I'm sorry," he said. "But there's nothing I can do."'(103)
'The enemy," retorted Yossarian with weighted precision, "is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on, and that includes Colonel Cathcart. And don't you forget that, because the longer you remember it, the longer you might live."(124)
'The soldier in white was constructed entirely of gauze, plaster and a thermometer, and the thermometer was merely an adornment left balanced in the empty dark hole in the bandages over his mouth early each morning and late afternoon by Nurse Cramer and Nurse Duckett right up to the afternoon Nurse Cramer read the thermometer and discovered he was dead.'(167)
'"I see everything twice!"... Pandemonium broke loose in the ward again. The specialists came running up from all directions...
The leader of this team of doctors was a dignified, solicitous gentleman who held one finger up directly in front of Yossarian and demanded, "How many fingers do you see?"
"Two," said Yossarian.
"How many fingers do you see now?" asked the doctor, holding up two.
"Two," said Yossarian.
"And how many now?" asked the doctor, holding up none.
"Two," said Yossarian.
The doctor's face wreathed with a smile. "By jove, he's right," he declared jubilantly. "He does see everything twice."'(180-181)
'The colonel sat back when he had finished and was extremely pleased with himself for the prompt action he had just taken to meet this sinister crisis. Yossarian -- the very sight of the name made him shudder. There were so many esses in it. It just had to be subversive. It was like the word subversive itself. It was like seditious and insidious too, and like socialist, suspicious, fascist and Communist. It was an odious, alien, distasteful name, a name that just did not inspire confidence. It was not at all like such clean, crisp, honest, American names as Cathcart, Peckem and Dreedle.'(210)
'There's an international Polish sausage exchange in Geneva. I'll just fly the peanuts into Switzerland and exchange them for Polish sausage at the open market rate. They'll fly the peanuts back to Cracow and I'll fly the Polish sausage back to you. You buy only as much Polish sausage as you want through the syndicate. There'll be tangerines too, with only a little artificial coloring added. And eggs from Malta and Scotch from Sicily. You'll be paying the money to yourself when you buy from the syndicate, since you'll own a share, so you'll really be getting everything you buy for nothing. Doesn't that make sense?'(252)
'Just pass the work I assign you along to somebody else and trust to luck. We call that delegation of responsibility. Somewhere down near the lowest level of this coordinated organization I run are people who do get the work done when it reaches them, and everything manages to run along smoothly without too much effort on my part. I suppose that's because I am a good executive. Nothing we do in this large department of ours is really very important, and there's never any rush. On the other hand, it is important that we let people know we do a great deal of it. Let me know if you find yourself shorthanded. I've already put in a requisition for two majors, four captains and sixteen lieutenants to give you a hand. While none of the work we do is very important, it is important that we do a great deal of it.'(320)
'The chaplain had sinned, and it was good. Common sense told him that telling lies and defecting from duty were sins. On the other hand, everyone knew that sin was evil and no good could come from evil. But he did feel good; he felt positively marvelous. Consequently, it followed logically that telling lies and defecting from duty could not be sins. The chaplain had mastered, in a moment of divine institution, the handy technique of protective rationalization, and he was exhilarated by his discovery. It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.'(363)
'When I look up, I see people cashing in. I don't see heaven or saints or angels. I see people cashing in on every decent impulse and every human tragedy.'(445)
Simon and Schuster Paperbacks
Book borrowed from the library
Book qualifies for: 100+ Reading Challenge
Monday, June 6, 2011
I honestly am not sure why I didn't reread this book sooner because it is my absolute favorite of Agatha Christie's work! It is exquisitely Brilliant and Awesome!!! Ten strangers (Emily Brent, Vera Claythourne, Dr. Armstrong, Anthony Marston, old Justice Wargrave, Philip Lombard, General Macarthur, C.M.G., D.S.O. Manservant and wife: Mr. and Mrs. Rogers), united by the common thread of a guilty conscience, are summoned to Indian Island by an Unknown host. One by one, they die, until there were none!
'In the corner of a first-class smoking carriage, Mr. Justice Wargrave, lately retired from the bench, puffed at a cigar and ran an interested eye through the political news in the Times.'(opening lines)
'She had pictured it differently, close to shore, crowned with a beautiful white house. But there was no house visible, only the boldly silhouetted rock with its faint resemblance to a giant Indian's head. There was something sinister about it.'(22)
'She stood in front of the fireplace and read it. It was the old nursery rhyme that she remembered from her childhood days.
Ten little Indian boys went out to die;
One choked his little self and then there were nine.
Nine little Indian boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were eight.
Eight little Indian boys travelling in Devon;
One said he'd stay there and then there were seven.
Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.
Six little Indian boys playing with a hive;
A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.
Five little Indian boys going in for law;
One got in Chancery and then there were four.
Four little Indian boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.
Three little Indian boys walking in the Zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were two.
Two little Indian boys sitting in the sun;
One got frizzled up and then there was one.
One little Indian boy let all alone;
He went and hanged himself and then there were none.
Vera smiled. Of course! This was Indian Island.'(32)
'He said: Just now we had a somewhat disturbing experience. An apparently disembodied voice spoke to us all by name, uttering certain precise accusations against us.'(54)
'If this had been an old house, with creaking wood, and dark shadows, and heavily panelled walls, there might have been an eerie feeling. But this house was the essence of modernity. There were no dark corners -- no possible sliding panels -- it was flooded with electric light -- everything was new and bright and shining. There was nothing hidden in this house, nothing concealed. It had no atmosphere about it.... Somehow, that was the most frightening of all .....'(72)
'It's those little figures, sir. In the middle of the table. The little china figures. Ten of them, there were. I'll swear to that, ten of them.'(95)
'In the sense you mean, no. I came to that conclusion early this morning. I could have told you that your search would be fruitless. Nevertheless, I am strongly of the opinion that 'Mr. Owen' ( to give him the name he himself has adopted) is on the island. Very much so. ... It is perfectly clear. Mr. Owen is one of us...'(135)
'Five people -- five frightened people. Five people who watched each other, who now hardly troubled to hide their state of nervous tension.... There were little pretence now -- no formal veneer of conversation. They were five enemies linked together by a mutual instinct of self-preservation.'(191)
'I have wanted -- let me admit it frankly -- to commit a murder myself. I recognized this as the desire of the artist to express himself! If I was, or could be, an artist in crime!'(263)
St. Martin's Paperback edition/May 2001
Book qualifies for: 100+ Reading Challenge
Book qualifies for: 100+ Reading Challenge
Sunday, June 5, 2011
It has been really nice outside, so I have been reading a lot at various spots in my backyard.
But I have had a run of 2-3/5 star ratings the last ten days.
(Cat's Eye, the Passage, the Westing Game, the Space Between Us, and Run)
Oh, well, moving on!!
The snowball flowers are in full bloom
The whole backyard smells so good with all the lilacs in full bloom too.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Illustrations by Quentin Blake
Matilda Wormwood is a child prodigy, unrecognized by her clueless, neglectful and horrible parents. They are unaware that at the age of five, she has already read an enviable list of classic books (the books to be added to my TBR!) They are also unaware that she has superior mathematical talent and soon to be manifested extraordinary powers. Fortunately, Miss Jennifer Honey, her new teacher, easily recognizes her gifts and decides to find ways to help her. But the nightmarish headmistress - the Trunchbull - proves to be an enormous hindrance to this task. A chock full of fun.
'It's a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful.'(opening lines)
'From then on, every afternoon, as soon as her mother had left for bingo, Matilda would toddle down to the library. The walk took only ten minutes and this allowed her two glorious hours sitting quietly by herself in a cosy corner devouring one book after another. When she had read every single children's book in the place, she started wandering round in search of something else.'(13)
'Over the next six months, under Mrs Phelps's watchful and compassionate eye, Matilda read the following books:
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Tess of the D'Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy
Gone to Earth by Mary Webb
Kim by Rudyard Kipling
The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Good Companions by J.B. Priestley
Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
Animal Farm by George Orwell.
It was a formidable list and by now Mrs. Phelps was filled with wonder and excitement...'(17-18)
'It was pleasant to take a hot drink up to her room and have it beside her as she sat in her silent room reading in the empty house in the afternoons. The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.'(21)
'Most children in Matilda's place would have burst into floods of tears. She didn't do this. She sat there very still and white and thoughtful. She seemed to know that neither crying nor sulking ever got anyone anywhere.'(41)
"I'm afraid men are not always quite as clever as they think they are. You will learn that when you get a bit older, my girl."(65)
"If you survive your first year you may just manage to live through the rest of your time here. But many don't survive. They get carried out on stretchers screaming. I've seen it often."(103-104)
'At that point something strange happened. The playground, which up to then had been filled with shrieks and the shouting of children at play, all at once became silent as the grave. "Watch out," Hortensia whispered. Matilda and Lavender glanced round and saw the gigantic figure of Miss Trunchbull advancing through the crowd of boys and girls with menacing strides. The children drew back hastily to let her through and her progress across the asphalt was like that of Moses going through the Red Sea when the waters parted. A formidable figure she was too, in her belted smock and green breeches. Below the knees her calf muscles stood our like grapefruits inside her stockings.'(112)
'Matilda said, "Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it's unbelievable. No parent is going to believe this pigtail story, not in a million years. Mine wouldn't. They'd call me a liar."'(117)
'The Trunchbull was sitting behind the teacher's table staring with a mixture of horror and fascination at the newt wriggling in the glass. Matilda's eyes were also riveted on the glass. And now, quite slowly, there began to creep over Matilda a most extraordinary and peculiar feeling. The feeling was mostly in the eyes. A kind of electricity seemed to be gathering inside them. A sense of power was brewing in those eyes of hers, a feeling of great strength was settling itself deep inside her eyes. But there was also another feeling which was something else altogether, and which she could not understand. It was like flashes of lightning. Little waves of lightning seemed to be flashing out of her eyes. Her eyeballs were beginning to get hot, as though vast energy was building up somewhere inside them. It was an amazing sensation. She kept her eyes steadily on the glass, and now the power was concentrating itself in one small part of each eye and growing stronger and stronger and it felt as though millions of tiny little invisible arms with hands on them were shooting out of her eyes towards the glass she was staring at.'(164-165)
'In two strides the Trunchbull was beside him, and by some amazing gymnastic trick, it may have been judo or karate, she flipped the back of Wilfred's legs with one of her feet so that the boy shot off the ground and turned a somersault in the air. But halfway through the somersault she caught him by an ankle and held him dangling upside-down like a plucked chicken in a shop-window.'(218)
a Trumpet Club Special Edition
Book qualifies for: 100+ Reading Challenge