identify the novel

August 17, 2006

My daughter needs some cajoling to get into bed, our finances are up a creek, and my wife and I have to make gazpacho for International Day at her company – I do not have time for this meme. The idea is, take umpteen of your favorite books and post your favorite lines from each one and see how long it takes friends to guess them.

This is an insufferable meme. You can't get all the books you want into the group and when the books are any good you can't possibly pick one line or even one passage, and basically Sisyphus would be proud. And the silence will be deafening, I predict – because a lot of these, not by intention, are just obscure.

  1. “That is the way.”
    “But there are no stairs.”
    “You must throw yourself in. There is no other way.”
    She turned and looked him full in the face – stood so for a whole minute, as she thought; it was a whole year – then threw herself headlong down into the hole.
  2. So she became; and her process of becoming was like most of ours: she developed a hatred for things that mystified or obstructed her; acquired virtues that were easy to maintain; assigned herself a role in the scheme of things; and harked back to simpler times for gratification.
  3. My head is big 'lympic size pool, all the years, all the me's floating around glued shamed to their desks while pee puddles get big near their feet. Man don't nobody know but it 'ain no joke for me to be here in this school.
  4. “You can't control how Stacy feels about you or whether she had her brother's baby. You can't control what's going on in Jennifer's life or how she's reacting to that. There's nothing in the world outside yourself you can control. Winter's cold, summer's warm. Things fall from high places, they break. You lie, trust goes. Truth stays the same…”
  5. It seemed to Hazel that he would not be needing his body any more, so he left it lying on the edge of the ditch, but stopped for a moment to watch his rabbits and to try to get used to the extraordinary feeling that strength and speed were flowing inexhaustibly out of him into their sleek young bodies and healthy senses.
  6. Still indomitable was the reply: “I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad – as I am now…”
  7. “I learned a long time ago, Reuven, that a blink of an eye in itself is nothing. But the eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing. But the man who lives that span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant…”
  8. “You thought, as a boy, that a mage is one who can do anything. So I thought, once. So did we all. And the truth is that as a man's real power grows and his knowledge widens, ever the way he can follow grows narrower: until at last he chooses nothing, but does only and wholly what he must do…”
  9. “Hallie was a protagonist of history.”
    “She wanted to save the world.”
    “No, Pop, that's not true. She wanted to save herself. Just like we all do.”
    “Save herself from what?”
    “From despair. From the feeling of being useless. I've about decided that's the main thing that separates happy people from the other people: the feeling that you're a practical item, with a use, like a sweater or a socket wrench.”
  10. The unicorn said, “That is true. You are a man, and men can do nothing that makes any difference.” But her voice was strangely slow and burdened.
  11. Though these young men unfortunately fail to understand that the sacrifice of life is, perhaps, the easiest of all sacrifices, and that to sacrifice, for instance, five or six years of their youth to hard and tedious study, if only to multiply tenfold their powers of serving the truth and the cause they have set before them as their goal – such a sacrifice is utterly beyond the strength of many of them.
  12. As he worked, he recalled the events in his life that had given him intellectual, and even – he could admit it now, and who was to despise him? – emotional pleasure. Fragments of music – Respighi, Q'orn, Chalmers – and particular insights in physics and mathematics. Bits of friendship, and even love, which he never could acknowledge.
  13. If you are going to be an egghead, you might as well be a hardboiled one.
  14. “I always drop the salad on the floor,” said Jan.
    “The secret's in the bowl. Use one a lot bigger than you think you need; give yourself plenty of room.”
    “I estimate that salad has proportionately more space allocated to it than I have,” said Tom. “Permission to be a lettuce, sir, please.”
  15. My grandfather died last night. He did not die like a dog, as he feared he would, but peacefully, in my arms.
  16. He could not force his century to make sense and he could find no place for himself in it. He had tried to conduct himself as an honorable man, as a man who could not be bought and sold, and woke up one morning to find himself a man with a price on his head.
  17. If there was a way for all the people on the far side of the goofy mountains to let him have their pain, he could take it up and bear it across the salt.
    Happy as he was, he began to cry because Dieter had not lived to hear of it.
    All that cringing, all those crying women, whining kids – I don't want to see that, I don't like it. Give it here.
    I don't want to see all you people so scared, it drives me nuts, it drives me mad. I'll take it.
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