Category Archives: Books

1877, translated and

still… a perfect description/metaphor:

This child’s presence called up both in Vronsky and Anna a feeling akin to the feeling of a sailor who sees by the compass that the direction in which is he swiftly moving is far from the right one, but that to arrest his motion is not in his power, that every instant is carrying him further and further away, and that to admit to himself his deviation from the right direction is the same as admitting his certain ruin.

p.213 in the Modern Library Edition

Another version

This too shall pass. All things must pass. You shall not pass.

From Anna Karenina, Levin talking:

“This is how I used to shudder and blush, thinking myself utterly lost, when I got a one in physics and did not get promoted; and how I thought myself utterly ruined after I had mismanaged that affair of my sister’s that was entrusted to me. And yet, now that years have passed, I recall it and wonder that it could distress me so much. It will be the same thing, too, with this trouble. Time will go by and I shall not mind about this either. ”


Michael Ondaatje

“In youth we are not so much embarrassed by the reality of our situation as fearful others might discover and judge it.”

“Otherwise how do we survive that forty miles of bad terrain during adolescence that we crossed without any truthful awareness of ourselves?”

“We are foolish as teenagers. We say wrong things, do not know how to be modest, or less shy. We judge easily. But the only hope given us, although only in retrospect, is that we change. We learn. We evolve. What I am now was formed by whatever happened to me then, not by what I have achieved, but by how I got here. But who did I hurt to get here? Who guided me to something better? Or accepted the few small things I was competent at? Who taught me to laugh as I lied? …But above all, most of all, how much damage did I do?

Sorry — terrible new habit of taking pictures of pages without including the page number.

Ondaatje, Michael. Warlight. New York: Vintage Books, 2019.

Go to the library

See a book that a thoughtful librarian puts near the front of the literature section. It mentions a novel you’d never heard of. So you find that novel and devour it in a Saturday.

“In his extreme youth Stoner had thought of love as an absolute state of being to which, if one were lucky, one might find access; in his maturity he had decided it was the heaven of a false religion, toward which one ought to gaze with an amused disbelief, a gently familiar contempt, and an embarrassed nostalgia. Now in his middle age he began to know that it was neither a state of grace nor an illusion; he saw it as a human act of becoming, a condition that was invented and modified moment by moment and day by day, by the will and the intelligence and the heart.” p.195

“He had dreamed of a kind of integrity, of a purity that was entire; he had found compromise and the assaulting diversion of triviality.” 274-275

John Williams, Stoner (NY: Viking Press, 1965).

To find

Listening to the NYT Books Podcast this AM:

John Lanchester, The Wall…sounds awesome.

Also, in talking about climate change, he used the following quote:

Death like the sun is to big to contemplate. The interwebs offer this version and source:

Rachel Cusk, Kudos

Can’t say if I like or dislike this book but I can’t stop reading it. I can’t say if agree with her or not but I can’t stop debating it in my head.

12: If you were unfamiliar with the political situation in our country, you might think you were witnessing not the machinations of democracy but the final surrender of personal consciousness into the public domain.

34: A degree of self-deception, she said, was an essential part of the talent for living.

39: …Since the defining motivation of the modern era, he said, whether consciously or not, is the pursuit of freedom from strictures of hardships of any kind.

Halfway through, just three of the quotes I’ve been churning on.

R Nesse

Heard Professor Nesse on Start the Week and will eventually find this book. But I liked that he began the book with this quote:

Nesse, Randolph. Good Reasons for Bad Feelings: Insights from the Frontier of Evolutionary Psychiatry.New York: Dutton, 2019.

Early Work

“Getting there, ” I would say, though as anyone who’s ever pretended to be a writer know, “the book” was really a handy metaphor for tinkering with hundreds of Word documents that bore a vague thematic resemblance to each other, but would never cohere into the, what, saga of ice and fire that were imagining.

Martin, Andrew. Early Work (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018), p.25.