Monday, November 28, 2022

The Abstainer by Ian McGuire


Fenians in Manchester, England and in the U.S. in the period right after the American Civil War.

Liked it, but nowhere near as powerful as his THE NORTH WATER.

It is the solitude of death that frightens him. Not the pain but the loneliness.

Everything different, he thinks, but everything the same. Time becomes memory, and memory becomes the ditch where we drown. [244]

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Here Goes Nothing by Steve Toltz

Toltz's prose style is stunning. I stopped turning over page corners to mark especially pungent sentences, as there were too many. Fatalistic, funny, unswerving look at mortality and its alternatives.

The way I saw it, faith in the Lord was like walking around in a suit of gold that looks fancy but weighs you down. [27]

Congratulations, bitches. It's an arranged marriage, and you arranged it. [33]

My mind was a tour de force of what the fuck. [68]

Like a secret tradition on the road to the road to perdition/
To think and talk in mediocrities/
Fake philosopher, you are bluffing, "I know I know nothing"
Fool, ignorance doesn't make you Socrates. [114]

Whenever I hear someone reciting a poem, I also hear the hours of practice they put into memorizing it just for the occasion of saying it to you. It's excruciating. [114]

Gracie went downstairs and knocked at the front door from the inside. Who is to say this is not how summon ghosts? [166]

"Now raise your glasses. That was a joke. Put your glasses down. Who toasts a baby? What are you, alcoholics?" [227]

Being born is okay for personal growth, but aside from that, what's it good for? [227]

Tears and laughter are the only common language between all people on earth. [227]

'He who does not answer the questions has passed the test.' - Franz Kafka [249]

Take it from me-- when you get sad enough, you'll vote for the precipitous over the slow decline every time. [255]

It had occurred to me that all my self-criticisms were innuendo and hearsay, everything I'd ever pretended to be was for someone else's benefit, and if people were ever looking at you, it was actually to see if you were looking at them, and if they were paying you attention, it was only to gauge your level of attention. [364]

"Notions of beauty are socially constructed, to be sure, but ugly is ugly." [369]

Gracie put her head down on the bar, muttering, 'I didn't want to be more sinned against than sinning. I wanted to sin too.' [369]

"You're playing God."
"God isn't. Someone has to." [371]

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Liberation Day, Stories by George Saunders


The story "Love Letter" is worth the price of admission alone. Not blown away by anything else, some retreads of his earlier theme-park-as-existence m.o.

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Bubblegum by Adam Levin


Another strong, fascinating, disturbing, sometimes annoying work.

Check in: halfway through. Deeply annoying. Levin goes on deep dives that are remniscent of DF Wallace but he lacks DFW's genius. The middle section of manuals, case studies, video descriptions about caring for the robotic pets that are the central theme of the book -- is just deadening.

On the other hand, the long two letters from a mother to her son as she is dying of cancer, and about to overdose to end her pain are absolutely breathtaking.

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