The Return of Talking Time

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Old 03-15-2011, 09:36 PM
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Reading a book? Read something good in it? Write the passage down here. Think of this as the "lyrics" subsection for books.

Include Title and Author. Give Spoiler tags where applicable.

"He sold me to a man named Curly Hill. Those were dreadful times! My father, Solomon Ratner, was not an uneducated man but he was only a junior railway clerk and there were so many mouths to feed. And imagine, a midget in the house! Well Curly came to town with his animal show- He toured all the fairs. He saw me at the station and asked me how I would like to wear a cowboy suit and ride an Irish Wolfhound. He had a chimp named Bob doiing it at the time. I directed him to my father and they came to terms."

Norwood, Charles Portis.
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Old 03-15-2011, 09:46 PM
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From memory, but:


"Step up to the bar of justice and be tried by his honor, or I'll blow your meager brains out."

Irving Stone, The President's Lady
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Old 03-15-2011, 10:19 PM
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Two very different favorites that sprang to mind:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake
Swelter, as soon as saw who it was, stopped dead, and across his face little billows of flesh ran swiftly here and there until, as though they had determined to adhere to the same impulse, they swept up into both oceans of soft cheek, leaving between them a vacuum, a gaping segment like a slice cut from a melon. It was horrible. It was as though nature had lost control. As though the smile, as a concept, as a manifestation of pleasure, had been a mistake, for here on the face of Swelter the idea had been abused.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
He never sleeps, he says. He says he'll never die. He bows to the fiddlers and sashays backwards and throws back his head and laughs deep in his throat and he is a great favorite, the judge. He wafts his hat and and the lunar dome of his skull passes palely under the lamps and the swings about and takes possession of one of the fiddles and he pirouettes and makes a pass, two passes, dancing and fiddling at once. His feet are light and nimble. He never sleeps. He says that he will never die. He dances in light and in shadow and he is a great favorite. He never sleeps, the judge. He is dancing, dancing. He says that he will never die.
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Old 03-15-2011, 11:10 PM
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From Ann Druyan's Introduction to Carl Sagan's The Varieties of Scientific Experience:

In that same drawer where the transcript of these lectures was rediscovered, there was a sheaf of notes intended for a book we never had the chance to write. Its working title was Ethos, and it would have been our attempt to synthesize the spiritual perspectives we derived from the revelations of science. We collected filing cabinets' worth of notes and references on the subject. Among them was a quotation Carl had excerpted from Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716), the mathematical and philosophical genius, who had invented differential and integral calculus independently of Isaac Newton. Leibniz argued that God should be the wall that stopped all further questioning, as he famously wrote in this passage from Principles of Nature and Grace:

"Why does something exist rather than nothing? For 'nothing' is simpler than 'something.' Now this sufficient reason for the existence of the universe... which has no need of any other reason... must be a necessary being, else we should not have a sufficient reason with which we could stop."

And just beneath the typed quote, three small handwritten words in red pen, a message from Carl to Leibniz and to us: "So don't stop."

Last edited by Figure Four; 03-15-2011 at 11:25 PM. Reason: grammar stuff
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Old 03-15-2011, 11:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pobby and Dingan, by Ben Rice
Dad and I caught up Mum and Kellyanne on the road. Well, Mum was suddenly smiling and singing out that it was about time we menfolk got back to mining, because she reckoned it wouldn't be too long before we found something. And me and Dad looked at each other and couldn't believe those words came out of her mouth. And as we came up to them, Mum turned the wheelchair around to show us that Kellyanne was smiling too. And Kellyanne Williamson smiled for the rest of her life.

But her life was short. A week later the whole population of Lightning Ridge came out to the cemetery again. My sister Kellyanne Williamson was buried with her imaginary friends, in the same grave, in the same place where millions of years ago there had been sea and creatures swimming cheerfuly around. And she took with he some Violet Crumbles, in case Pobby and Dingan had run out.

And although in the end everyone believed that Pobby and Dingan had really lived and were really dead, nobody at the Ridge could quite believe the funeral of Kellyanne Williamson was actually happening. And I, Ashmol, still can't believe that it did. I just can't. I can't believe it at all. Even now, one year later, it feels like she's still totally alive. And I find myself lying awake talking to her all the time. And I talk to her at school and when I am walking down Opal Stret, and Humph and I when we are out at the Moozeum talk to her together, and you will still see today if you go to Lightning Ridge people pause in the middle of doing whatever they are doing to stop and talk to Kellyanne Williamson just as they still pause and talk to Pobby and Dingan and to opal in their dreams. And the rest of the world thinks we are all total nutters, but they can go and talk to their backsides for all I care. Because they are all just fruit loops who don't know what it is to believe in something which is hard to see, or to keep looking for something which is totally hard to find.
Seeing as how it's the ending of the book, it really relies on context to have any impact at all.
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Old 03-16-2011, 12:11 AM
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Default Technology Implies Belligerence

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blindsight, by Peter Watts

Once there were three tribes. The Optimists, whose patron saints were Drake and Sagan, believed in a universe crawling with gentle intelligence—spiritual brethren vaster and more enlightened than we, a great galactic siblinghood into whose ranks we would someday ascend. Surely, said the Optimists, space travel implies enlightenment, for it requires the control of great destructive energies. Any race which can't rise above its own brutal instincts will wipe itself out long before it learns to bridge the interstellar gulf.

Across from the Optimists sat the Pessimists, who genuflected before graven images of Saint Fermi and a host of lesser lightweights. The Pessimists envisioned a lonely universe full of dead rocks and prokaryotic slime. The odds are just too low, they insisted. Too many rogues, too much radiation, too much eccentricity in too many orbits. It is a surpassing miracle that even one Earth exists; to hope for many is to abandon reason and embrace religious mania. After all, the universe is fourteen billion years old: if the galaxy were alive with intelligence, wouldn't it be here by now?

Equidistant to the other two tribes sat the Historians. They didn't have too many thoughts on the probable prevalence of intelligent, spacefaring extraterrestrials— but if there are any, they said, they're not just going to be smart. They're going to be mean.

It might seem almost too obvious a conclusion. What is Human history, if not an ongoing succession of greater technologies grinding lesser ones beneath their boots? But the subject wasn't merely Human history, or the unfair advantage that tools gave to any given side; the oppressed snatch up advanced weaponry as readily as the oppressor, given half a chance. No, the real issue was how those tools got there in the first place. The real issue was what tools are for.

To the Historians, tools existed for only one reason: to force the universe into unnatural shapes. They treated nature as an enemy, they were by definition a rebellion against the way things were. Technology is a stunted thing in benign environments, it never thrived in any culture gripped by belief in natural harmony. Why invent fusion reactors if your climate is comfortable, if your food is abundant? Why build fortresses if you have no enemies? Why force change upon a world which poses no threat?

Human civilization had a lot of branches, not so long ago. Even into the twenty-first century, a few isolated tribes had barely developed stone tools. Some settled down with agriculture. Others weren't content until they had ended nature itself, still others until they'd built cities in space.

We all rested eventually, though. Each new technology trampled lesser ones, climbed to some complacent asymptote, and stopped—until my own mother packed herself away like a larva in honeycomb, softened by machinery, robbed of incentive by her own contentment.

But history never said that everyone had to stop where we did. It only suggested that those who had stopped no longer struggled for existence. There could be other, more hellish worlds where the best Human technology would crumble, where the environment was still the enemy, where the only survivors were those who fought back with sharper tools and stronger empires. The threats contained in those environments would not be simple ones. Harsh weather and natural disasters either kill you or they don't, and once conquered—or adapted to— they lose their relevance. No, the only environmental factors that continued to matter were those that fought back, that countered new strategies with newer ones, that forced their enemies to scale ever-greater heights just to stay alive. Ultimately, the only enemy that mattered was an intelligent one.

And if the best toys do end up in the hands of those who've never forgotten that life itself is an act of war against intelligent opponents, what does that say about a race whose machines travel between the stars?
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Old 03-16-2011, 10:33 AM
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Quote:
You can look like a gorila or a dragon or a giant talking penis in the Metaverse. Spend five minutes walking down the street and you will see all of these.
Snow Crash, Neil Stephenson
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Old 03-16-2011, 10:48 AM
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"Let us remain together a little, we who have loved each other so sadly, and have fought so long. I seem to remember only centuries of heroic war, in which you were always heroes -- epic on epic, iliad on iliad, and you always brothers in arms. Whether it was but recently (for time is nothing), or at the beginning of the world, I sent you out to war. I sat in the darkness, where there is not any created thing, and to you I was only a voice commanding valour and an unnatural virtue. You heard the voice in the dark, and you never heard it again. The sun in heaven denied it, the earth and sky denied it, all human wisdom denied it. And when I met you in the daylight I denied it myself."
G.K. Chesterson, The Man Who Was Thursday
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Old 03-16-2011, 10:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darkness, Take My Hand by Dennis Lehane
But I often think we talk way too much in this society, that we consider verbalization a panacea that it very often is not, and that we turn a blind eye to the sort of morbid self-absorption that becomes a predictable by-product of it.
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Old 03-17-2011, 05:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Citadel of the Autarch, by Gene Wolfe
It often seems to me that of all the good things in the world, the only ones humanity can claim for itself are stories and music; the rest, mercy, beauty, sleep, clean water and hot food [...] are all the work of the Increate. Thus, stories are small things indeed in the scheme of the universe, but it is hard not to love best what is our own.
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Old 03-17-2011, 05:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BEAT View Post
G.K. Chesterson, The Man Who Was Thursday
Now this thread feels like Deus Ex.
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Old 03-17-2011, 06:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
I just want to be loved
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Old 03-17-2011, 07:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
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 loner be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions 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.
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson
"I've seen men land on the moon" he said. "I've seen students break into administration offices and shit in the dean's waste basket. I've even seen nuns in mini-skirts. But this international conspiracy existing for eight hundred years, it's like opening a door in your own house and finding James Bond and the President of the United States personally shooting it out with Fu Manchu and the five original Marx Brothers."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness. Although the two are identical twins, man, as a rule, views the prenatal abyss with more calm than the one he is heading for (at some forty-five hundred heartbeats an hour).
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Old 03-17-2011, 10:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Summer Knight, by Jim Butcher
One thing was for certain—no woman like that would have anything less than money. Lots of money. Money I could use to pay the rent, buy groceries, maybe even splurge a little and get a wheelbarrow to help with cleaning my apartment. I only hesitated for a heartbeat wondering if it was proper for a full-fledged Wizard of the White Council to be that interested in cash. I made up my mind fast.

Phenomenal cosmic powers be damned; I have a lease.
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Old 03-19-2011, 09:33 PM
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Quote:
He felt he was being swept away, not just from his life but from God, the idea of God, or hope, or reason, the idea that things made sense, that cause followed effect, and it ought not to be like this, Ig felt, death ought not to be like this, even for sinners.
Horns, Joe Hill
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Old 03-21-2011, 05:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow
A screaming comes across the sky. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now.

It is too late. The Evacuation still proceeds, but it's all theatre. There are no lights inside the cars. No light anywhere. Above him lift girders old as an iron queen, and glass somewhere far above that would let the light of day through. But it's night. He's afraid of the way the glass will fall - soon - it will be a spectacle: the fall of a crystal palace. But coming down in total blackout, without one glint of light, only great invisible crashing.

[...]

Some wait alone, some share their invisible rooms with others. Invisible, yes, what do the furnishings matter, at this stage of things? Underfoot crunches the oldest of city dirt, last crystallisations of all the city had denied, threatened, lied to it's children. Each has been hearing a voice, one he thought was talking only to him, say, "You didn't really believe you'd be saved. Come, we all know who we are by now. No one was ever going to take the trouble to save you, old fellow..."

There is no way out. Lie and wait, lie still and be quiet. Screaming holds across the sky. When it comes, will it come in darkness, or will it bring it's own light? Will the light come before or after?
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Old 03-21-2011, 06:41 PM
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Terry Prattchet, Hogfather

"You're saying humans need ... fantasies to make life bearable."
REALLY? AS IF IT WERE SOME PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.
"Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little-?"
YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.
"So we can believe the big ones?"
YES. JUSTICE. DUTY. MERCY. THAT SORT OF THING.
"They're not the same at all!"
REALLY? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET- Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME... SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.
"Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what's the point-"
MY POINT EXACTLY.
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Old 03-22-2011, 10:46 AM
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Loose strands of his character—the very traits that had kept him dreaming and lonely among schoolboys and later among soldiers—these seemed suddenly to have coalesced into a substantial and attractive whole. For the first time in his life he was admired and the fact that girls could actually want to go to bed with him was only slightly more remarkable than his other concurrent discovery—that men, and intelligent men at that, could actually want to listen to him talk. His marks at school were seldom better than average, but there was nothing average about his performance in the beery, all-night talks that had begun to form around him—talks that would often end in a general murmur of agreement, accompanied by a significant tapping of temples, that old Wheeler really had it. All he would ever need, it was said, was the time and the freedom to find himself. Various ultimate careers were predicted for him, the consensus being that his work would lie somewhere “in the humanities” if not precisely in the arts—it would, at any rate, be something that called for a long and steadfast dedication—and that it would involve his early and permanent withdrawal to Europe, which he often described as the only part of the world worth living in. And Frank himself, walking the streets at daybreak after some of those talks, or lying and thinking on Bethune Street on nights when he had the use of the place but had no girl to use it with, hardly ever entertained a doubt of his own exceptional merit. Weren’t the biographies of all great men filled with this same kind of youthful groping, this same kind of rebellion against their fathers and their fathers’ ways? He could even be grateful in a sense that he had no particular area of interest: in avoiding specific goals he had avoided specific limitations. For the time being the world, life itself, could be his chosen field.

But as college wore on he began to be haunted by numberless small depressions, and these tended to increase in the weeks after college was over, when the other two men had taken to using their keys less and less frequently and he was staying alone in the Bethune Street place, taking odd jobs to buy his food while he thought things out.

Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road.
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Old 03-22-2011, 08:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Wars by Timothy Findley
So far, you have read about the deaths of 557,017 people-- one of whom was killed by a streetcar, one of whom died of bronchitis and one of whom died in a barn with her rabbits.
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Old 03-25-2011, 01:09 AM
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In January of 1826 the demure chronicle contends that the Dolphin a United States military ship, arrived in Honolulu. "Her commander expressed his regret at the existence of a law, prohibiting females from visiting ships on infamous errand." Learning of Hiram Bingham's influence and determined to procure female companionship for himself and his shipmates, the captain informed the high chiefs "that unless the law against prostitution was repelled, he would come and tear down the houses of the missionaries.

Six or seven members of the Dolphin's crew burst into a religious service Bingham was conducting at a chief's house and threatened him with clubs. Then they went off and broke the windows at the mission house. When the captain arrived on the scene, rather then apologize for his men's threats and vandalism he purported that "he had rather have his hands tied behind him or even cut off, and go home to the United States mutilated, than to have it said, that the privilege of having prostitutes on board his vessel denied to him."
Sarah Vowell, Unfamiliar Fishes
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Old 03-25-2011, 08:47 AM
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If the rest of The Urth of the New Sun were nought but blank pages, I still would feel it justified by Severian's breakdown, after he realises that he's died - not once, but twice - and the subsequent cheering-up.
Quote:
"Am I an eidolon? A ghost?" I looked at my hands, hoping to be reassured by their solidity. They were shaking; to quiet them I had to jam them against my thighs.

Barbatus said, "What you call eidolons are not ghosts, but beings maintained in existance by some external source of energy. What you call matter is all, in actuality, merely bound energy. The only difference is that some is held in material form by its own energy."

At that moment I wanted to cry more than I have ever wanted anything in my life. "Actuality? You think there's really any actuality?" The release of tears would have been nirvana; harsh training yet held, and no tears came. For an instant I wondered wildly whether eidolons could weep at all.

"You speak of what is real, Severian; thus do you hold to what is real still. A moment since we spoke of him who makes. Among your folk the simple call him God, and you, the lettered, name him Increate. What were you ever but his eidolon?"
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Old 03-26-2011, 01:28 PM
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Quote:
Don't be smart. Smart is only a polished version of dumb. Try intelligence. It will surely see you through.
Terry Pratchett, Unseen Academicals
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Old 04-01-2011, 10:22 AM
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Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker's game because they almost always turn out to be - or to be indistinguishable from - self-righteous sixteen-year-olds possessing infinite amounts of free time.
Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon
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Old 04-01-2011, 10:50 PM
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I'm a sucker for evocative descriptions of places, so I'm going to share a few here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Terror by Dan Simmons
When Wilson has squeezed his bulk up through the upper hatch, Captain Crozier lifts the lower hatch and descends to the hold deck.

Because the entire deck-space lies beneath the level of outside ice, the hold deck is almost as cold as the alien world beyond the hull. And darker, with no aurora, stars, or moon to relieve the ever-present blackness. The air is thick with coal dust and coal smoke — Crozier watches the black particles curl around his hissing lantern like a banshee’s claw — and it stinks of sewage and bilge. A scraping, sliding, scuttling noise comes from the darkness aft, but Crozier knows it’s just the coal being shoveled in the boiler room. Only the residual heat from that boiler keeps the three inches of filthy water sloshing at the foot of the ladder from turning to ice. Forward, where the bow dips deeper into the ice, there is almost a foot of icy water, despite men working the pumps six hours and more a day. The Terror, like any living thing, breathes out moisture through a score of vital functions, including Mr. Diggle’s ever-working stove, and while the lower deck is always damp and rimed with ice and the orlop deck frozen, the hold is a dungeon with ice hanging from every beam and meltwater sloshing above one’s ankles. The flat black sides of the twenty-one iron water tanks lining the hull on either side add to the chill. Filled with thirty-eight tons of fresh water when the expedition sailed, the tanks are now armored icebergs and to touch the iron is to lose skin.
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Old 04-02-2011, 08:50 PM
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Quote:
Not a tree nor a house broke the broad sweep of flat country that reached the edge of the sky in all directions. The sun had baked the plowed land into a gray mass. With little cracks running through it. Even the grass was not green, for the sun had burned the tops of the long blades until they were the same gray color to be seen everywhere. Once the house had been painted, but the sun blistered the paint and the rains washed it away, and now the sun was as dull and gray as everything else.

When Em came there to live she was a young, pretty wife. The sun and wind had changed her. They had taken the sparkle from her eyes and left them a sober gary; they had taken the red from her cheeks and lips, and they were gray also. She was thin and gaunt, and never smile, now. When the orphan, first came to her, Em had been so startled by the child's laughter that she would scream and press her hand upon her heart whenever the child's merry voice reached her ears; and she still looked at the little girl with wonder that she could find anything to laugh at.

Henry never laughed. He worked hard from morning till night and did not know what joy was.
Blood Meridian By Cormac McCarthey The Wizard Of Oz by Frank L. Baum.

Christ that's bleak.
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Old 04-03-2011, 10:27 PM
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Past the flannel plains and blacktop graphs and skylines of canted rust, and past the tobacco-brown river overhung with weeping trees and coins of sunlight through them on the water downriver, to the place beyond the windbreak, where untilled fields simmer shrilly in the A.M. heat: shattercane, lamb's-quarter, cutgrass, sawbrier, nut-grass, jimsonweed, wild mint, dandelion, foxtail, muscadine, spine-cabbage, goldenrod, creeping charlie, butter-print, nightshade, ragweed, wild oat, vetch, butcher grass, invaginate volunteer beans, all heads gently nodding in a morning breeze like a mother's soft hand on your cheek. An arrow of starlings fired from the windbeak's thatch. The glitter of dew that stays where it is and steams all day. A sunflower, four more, one bowed, and horses in the distance standing rigid and still as toys. All nodding. Electric sounds of insects at their buisiness. Alecolored sunshine and pale sky and whorls of cirrus so high they cast no shadow. Insects all business all the time. Quartz and chert and schist and chondrite iron scabs in granite. Very old land. Look around. The horizon trembling shapeless. We are all of us brothers.
The Pale King, First Paragraph, David Foster Wallace.
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Old 04-04-2011, 08:19 AM
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Man, only DFW can make what is probably someone's trip to the mailbox seem like science fiction.
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  #29  
Old 04-05-2011, 01:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nich View Post
-The Moviegoer, Walker Percy
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  #30  
Old 04-10-2011, 09:22 PM
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Quote:
The nun was reading Patricia Cornwell. She saw me glance at the cover, said, "I prefer Kathy Reichs."

There's no answer to this. No polite answer anyway.
The Guards, Ken Bruen

Last edited by Evil Dead Junkie; 04-10-2011 at 09:45 PM.
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