Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith / J.K. Rowling

"He had never been able to understand the assumption of intimacy fans felt with those they had never met. People had sometimes referred to his father as "Old Jonny" in his presence, beaming, as if they were talking about a mutual friend, repeating well-worn press stories and anecdotes as though they had been personally involved."

[on CCTV cameras in London] "You're like everyone else Strike; you want your civil liberties when you've told the missus you're at the office and you're at a lap-dancing club, but you want twenty-four-hour surveillance on your house when someone's trying to force your bathroom window open. Can't have it both ways."

"The dead could only speak through the mouths of those left behind, and through the signs they left scattered behind them. Strike had felt the living woman behind the words she had written to friends; he had heard her voice on a telephone held to his ear; but now, looking down on the last thing she had ever seen in her life, he felt strangely close to her. The truth was coming slowly into focus out of the mass of disconnected detail. What he lacked was proof."

"Like other inveterate womanizers Strike had encountered, Duffield's voice and mannerisms were slightly camp. Perhaps such men became feminized by prolonged immersion in women's company, or perhaps it was a way of disarming their quarry."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

"Love was like drugs or booze or porn: There was no plateau. Each exposure needed to be more intense than the last to achieve the same result."

"Friends see most of each other's flaws. Spouses see every awful last bit."

"Our only one. There is an unfair responsibility that comes with being an only child - you grow up knowing you aren't allowed to disappoint, you're not even allowed to die. There isn't a replacement toddling around; you're it. It makes you desperate to be flawless, and it also makes you drunk with the power. In such ways are despots made."

My thank-yous always come out rather labored. I often don't give them at all. People do what they're supposed to do and then wait for you to pile on the appreciation - they're like frozen-yogurt employees who put out cups for tips.

"We're not animals, asshole. We don't steal women. People want to feel okay for not helping us. See, they don't deserve it, they're a bunch of rapists. Well, bullshit."

"If you're about to do something, and you want to know if it's a bad idea, imagine seeing it printed in the paper for all the world to see."

"You are a cheater. You have failed one of the most basic male tests. You are not a good man."

"For several years, I had been bored. Not a whining, restless child's boredom (although I was not above that) but a dense, blanketing malaise. It seemed to me that there was  nothing new to be discovered ever again. Our society was utterly, ruinously derivative (although the word derivative as a criticism is itself derivative). We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time. We stare at the wonders of the world, dull-eyed, underwhelmed. Mona Lisa, the Pyraminds, the Empire State Building. Jungle animals on attack, ancient icebergs collapsing, volcanoes erupting. I can't recall a single amazing thing I have seen firsthand that I didn't immediately reference to a movie or TV show. A fucking commercial. You know the awful singsong of the blase: Seeeeen it. I've literally seen it all, and the worst thing, the tihng that makes me want to blow my brains out, is: The secondhand experience is always better. The image is crisper, the view is keener, the camera angle and the soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can't anymore. I don't know that we are actually human at this point, those of us who are like most of us, who grew up with TV and movies and now the Internet. If we are betrayed, we know the words to say: when a loved one dies, we know the words to say. If we want to play the stud or the smart-ass or the fool, we know the words to say. We are all working from the same dog-eared script. 

It's a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless Automat of characters.

And if all of us are play-acting, there can be no such thing as a soulmate, because we don't have genuine souls. 

It had gotten to a point where it seems like nothing matters, be I'm not a real person and neither is anyone else.

I would have done anything to feel real again.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bossypants - Tina Fey

[Women aren't funny] It is an impressively arrogant move to conclude that just because you don't like something, it is empirically not good.

Ask yourself the following question: "Is this person in between me and what I want to do?" If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing work and outpacing people that way...Again, don't waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions. Go "Over! Under! Through!" and opinions will change organically when you're the boss. Or they won't. Who care? Do your thing and don't care if they like it.

"My mother did this for me once," she will realize as she cleans off...her baby's neck. "My mother did this for me." And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Age of Miracles - Karen Thompson Walker

"This was middle school, the age of miracles, the time when kids shot up three inches over the summer, when breasts bloomed from nothing, when voices dipped and dove. Our first flaws were emerging, but they were being corrected. Blurry vision could be fixed invisibly with the magic of contact lenses. Crooked teeth were pulled straight with braces. Spotty skin could be chemically cleared. Some girls were turning beautiful. A few boys were growing tall. I knew I still looked like a child."

"The only thing you have to do in this life is die," said Mrs. Pinsky. This was one of her favorite sayings. "Everything else is a choice."

We were a different kind of Christian, the quiet, reasonable kind, a breed embarassed by the mention of miracles.

Some of the stars you'll see out there  don't exist anymore," said my father, gently turning the knobs of the telescope with his thumb. The gears squeked softly. "Some of the stars you'll see have been dead for thousands of years already."
"What you'll see with the telescope are not the stars as they are today but how they were thousands of years ago....thats how far away they are; even the light takes centuries to reach us."
I liked the idea, how the past could be preserved, fossilized, in the stars. I want to think that somewhere on the other end of time, a hundred light-years from then, someone else, some distant future creature, might be looking back at a preserved image of me and my father at that very moment in my bedroom.

"I'd grown up hearing stories about the special hazards that girls faced. I knew where the bodies were found: naked on beaches or cut into pieces, parts frozen in freezers or buried in cement. These stories were never kept from us girls. Instead they were spread around like ghost stories, our parents hoping that fear would do the job that our judgement might not."

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Last Patriot - Brad Thor

"You see Muslims believe that the Koran is the complete and immutable word of God. To suggest anything else is considered blasphemy and an outright attack on Islam. Nevertheless, about a fifth of the Koran is filled with contradictions and incomprehensible passages that don't make sense."

"For examples, in the beginning of Mohammed's career as a prophet in Mecca, Allah revealed to him through the Angel Gabriel the concept of living peacefully with Jews and Christians. Later when Mohammed, who had been shunned by the Jews and Christians, became a warlord and raised a powerful army in Medina, Allah supposedly revealed that it was every Muslim's duty to subdue all non-Muslims and not rest until Islam was the dominant religion on the planet."

"Part of the confusion comes from the fact that the Koran isn't organized chronologically. It's organized predominantly from the longest chapters, or suras to the shortest. The peaceful verses from the beginning of Islam can therefore be found throughout. The problem, though, is that the violent verses take precedence due to something called abrogation."
"What's abrogation?"
"Basically, it says that if two verses in the Koran conflict, the later verse shall take precedence. The most violent sura in the Koran is the ninth. It is the only chapter in the Koran that doesn't begin with the phrase known as the Bismillah - All the compassionate, the merciful. It contains verses like slay idolaters wherever you find them and those who refuse to fight for Allah will be afflicted with a painful death and will go to hell as well as calling for warfare against and the subjugation of all Jews and Christians."

"The difficulty for peaceful Muslims who do not espouse violence," clarified Harvath, "is that they don't have a contextual leg to stand on in their religion. When Mohammed said 'go do violence' and when he himself committed violence, Muslims are not allowed to argue with that. In fact, they are expected to follow his example."
"Why" asked Tracey.
"Because Mohammed is viewed as the 'perfect man' in Islam. His behavior - every single thing he ever said or did - is above reproach and held as the model for all Muslims to follow. Basically, Islam teaches that the more a Muslim is like Mohammed, the better off he or she will be."
"But, if Mohammed did in fact have a final revelation beyond Sura 9," said Nicholas, "and if, as Jefferson believed, it could abrogate all of the calls to violence in the Koran-"
"Then its impact would be incredible."

"Al-Jazari [Muslim equivalent to Leonardo Da Vinci was a dedicated man of science. Even as early as the 12th century, Muslim scientists and academics were aware of multiple errors throughout the Koran such as Mohammed's incorrect explanations of the workings of the human body, the earth, the stars, and the planets, which he had communicated as being the true words of God. There were also the satanic verses.
Harvath knew all too well about the satanic verses. Desperate to make peace with his family's tribe, the Quraish ['Koor-iysh], Mohammed claimed that it was legitimate for Muslims to pray before the Quraysh's three pagan godesses as intercessors before Allah.
But when Mohammed realized what he had done and how he had compromised his monotheism to get his family's tribe to join him, he took it all back and claimed the devil had put words in his mouth. The abrupt about-face acted like gasoline being poured on a smoldering fire with the Quraish and remained a fascinating retraction, which many throughout history, Salman Rushdie included, have found quite notable."

"The Islamic tradition is pretty well known for the penalty it imposes on those who blaspheme Islam or apostasize themselves from the faith."
"Death," replied Harvath.
"Exactly. There are many lay people and scholars alike, both within and without the Muslim community, who feel that the pure, orthodox Islam of the fundamentalists could never survive outside the context of its 7th century Arabian origins. Apply 21st century science, logic or humanistic reasoning to it and it falls apart."
"They believe this is why Islam has always relied so heavily on the threat of death. Question Islam, malign Islam, or leave Islam and you will be killed. It is a totalitarian operandi that silences all dissent and examination, thereby protecting the faith from ever having to defend itself."

"An interesting footnote is that after the victory, Prince Hamet [Arab] presented Lieutenant O'Bannon with a scimitar used by his Mameluke tribesman in appreciation of his courage and that of his Marines. This is the model for the saber the Marines still carry to this day."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Nostradamus Prophecies - By Mario Reading

"We [writers] hacks are used to being insulted. We are resolutely bottom of the pecking order. Unless we write bestsellers, that is, or contrive to become celebrities, when we magically spring to the top. Then, when we can't follow up, we sink back down to the bottom again. It's a heady profession, don't you agree?"

Well, Isis, the Egyptian godess, wife and sister of Osiris and sister of Set, was also believed to save sailors from the sea. And we know that she was frequently depicted seated on a throne, with her son, Horus the Child, on her lap. Horus is the god of light, of the sun, of the day, of life, and of good, and his nemesis, Set, who was Isis's sworn enemy, was the god of the night, of evil, or darkness, and of death. Set had tricked Osiris, cheif of the gods, into trying out a beautifully crafted coffin, and had sealed him inside it and sent him down the Nile, where a tree grew around him. Later, he cut Osiris's body into fourteen pieces. But Isis found the coffin and its contents and reassembled them, with Thoth, the mediator's, help, and Osiris then came back to life just long enough to impregnate her with Horus, their son."
"I don't understand..."
"Macron, the Black Virgin is Isis. The Christ figure is Horus. All that happened was that the Christians usurped the ancient Egyptian gos and transformed them into something more palatable to a modern sensibility."
"Osiris was resurrected, you see. He came back from the dead. And he had a son. Who pitted himself against the forces of evil. Doesn't that sound familiar to you?"
"Both Jesus and Horus were born in a stable. And their births are both celebrated on the 25th of December."

"Fitness equated to health. Your body listened to you. Fitness freed it from the oppression of gravity. Find the right balance and you could very nearly fly."

"No one owns their soul. It is a gift. A part of God. And we take it back to Him when we die and offer it to Him as our sacrifice. Then we are judged on the strength of it."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

"There must be a lot of duplication in our country's laws," said Dukhi. "Every time there are elections, they talk of passing the same ones passed twenty years ago. Someone should remind them they need to apply the laws."

"Life without dignity is worthless."

"What I wonder is, how Ashraf Chacha can have someone so horrible for his friend."
"All people are not the same. Besides, Nawaz's years in the city must have altered him. Places can change people, you know. For better or worse."

"Sometimes you have to use your failures as stepping-stones to success. You have to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair. In the end, it's all a question of balance."

"You have a dirty mind."
"Yes, I do," said Om, "Listen, a riddle for you: to make it stiff and stand up straight, she rubs it; to make it slice and slide it in, she licks it. What is she doing?" He was laughing before he had finished reciting the question, while Maneck hushed him with a finger to his lips.
"Come on, answer. What's she doing?"
"Fucking, what else?"
"Wrong. Give up? She's threading a needle," said Om smugly, as Maneck clapped his hand to his forehead. "Now whose mind is dirty."

"The idea of independence was a fantasy. Everyone depended on someone."

"The secret to survival is to balance hope and despair, to embrace change, to adapt."

 "Money can buy the necessary police order. Justice is sold to the highest bidder."