Thursday, November 11, 2010

not travel, just books

While travelling, one does tend to read. Waiting at train stations, waiting at bus stops, waiting for something to open, before going to bed, and so on. Here are two quotes that struck me in recent reading.

From In a Dark Wood, by Amanda Craig, Fourth Estate 2000, a contemporary lit novel about a man struggling with the breakup of his marriage and the stalling of his acting career, on a quest to discover the truth about his dead mother, through the memories of her friends and the book of fairy tales she wrote and illustrated.

Ruth fixed me with her eyes. 'If you read fairy-tales carefully, you'll notice they are mostly about people who aren't heroes. They don't have special powers, or gifts. Often they are despised as stupid. They are bullied, beaten up, robbed, starved. But they find they are stronger than their misfortunes.'
'How? How?'
'By luck, or courage, or kindness.'
'Ruth, you must know that in real life, none of those things work.'
'How do you know?' she said. 'Have you tried them?'

And from The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova, Time Warner 2005, enough of a bestseller I don't need to precis the plot.

The thing that most haunted me that day, however, as I closed my notebook and put my coat on to go home, was not my ghostly image of Dracula, or the description of impalement, but the fact that these things had--apparently--actually occurred. If I listened too closely, I thought, I would hear the screams of the boys, of the "large family" dying together. For all his attention to my historical education, my father had neglected to tell me this: history's terrible moments were real.

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