Some more favourite paragraphs

The evening is carved from light. – Samuel Delany in ‘Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones’

“Katherine, I am, in English, moribund. I have no legs, no Swiss honour, no leaders who will fight the truth. I am not alive, Katherine. I roll from skiing lodge to tavern, frequently drinking, alone, wishing for my death, locked inside my pain in the heart. I wish for my death but have not the courage to make actions to cause death. I twice try to roll over the edge of a tall Swiss hill but cannot bring myself. I curse myself for cowardice and inutile. I roll about, hoping to be hit by a vehicle of someone else, but at the last minute rolling out of the path of vehicles on Autoroutes, for I am unable to will my death. The more pain in my self, the more I am inside the self and cannot will my death, I think. I feel I am chained in a cage of the self, from the the pain. Unable to care or choose anything outside it. Unable to see anything or feel anything outside my pain.” – David Foster Wallace in ‘Infinite Jest’

The library deeps lay waiting for them. Ray Bradbury in ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’

Ammu, naked now, crouched over Velutha, her mouth on his. He drew her hair around them like a tent. Like her children did when they wanted to exclude the outside world. She slid further down, introducing herself to the rest of him. His neck. His nipples. His chocolate stomach. She sipped the last of the river from the hollow of his navel. She pressed the heat of his erection against her eyelids. She tasted him, salty, in her mouth. He sat up and drew her back to him. She felt his belly tighten under her, hard as a board. She felt her wetness slipping on his skin. He took her nipple in his mouth and cradled her other breast in his calloused palm. Velvet gloved in sandpaper. – Arundhati Roy in ‘The God of Small Things’

They walk away looking all aloha. – Binyavanga Wainaina in ‘One Day I Will Write About This Place’

Consolata is peeling and quartering small brown potatoes. She simmers them in water seasoned with pan juices, bay leaf and sage before arranging them in a skillet where they turn darkly gold. She sprinkles paprika and seeds of blackest pepper over them. “Oh, yes,” she says. “Oh, yes.” – Toni Morisson in ‘Paradise’

The glint of her large silver-plated earrings pulsed like a distant star sending out signals to the last man on Earth. We were so many light-years from each other it frightened me a little. But the fact of contact itself held out hope – if not an open door. There would be gatherings such as these; of memories and of the dead who have never been gone. And those to come who have always been here. But it is as if it was God’s wound and we were the maggots slithering in it. And, satiated with the great purposelessness of it, we gently belched nerve gases into the next generation. Ada was one of those who walk the tightrope smiling a scathing scorn at the blind reverses of chance; neither looking up nor looking down – just walking calmly into the crocodile’s jaws. – Dambudzo Marechera in ‘House of Hunger’. 

O, how trying is a chess player’s path on earth!  Hatred and envy are his lot, for he holds up a mirror to the dunces and the weak in order to show them their pettiness and the vanity of their every aspiration, and as he is certainly not going to be thanked for this, he must expect much pestering and humiliation.  — Jan Heine Donner in ‘The King’

He went around turning off the lights, checking the front and back doors. He’d seen a U-2 once on a salt flat in Nevada. It looked like a child’s idea of advanced reconnaissance. Freakish wingspan, basic body that looked unfinished, wingtips that folded over. But it had a jet engine under a glider frame and could climb at an angle steeper than forty-five degrees, soar to eighty-five thousand feet, it’s camera sweeping a path over a hundred miles wide. Dark Lady of espionage, the Soviets called it. He checked to see that the oven was off. The last thing downstairs was the oven. – Don DeLillo in ‘Libra’



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