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Quotations from & Observations on Current Reading

December 15th, 2022

From the poem "The Big Bang"

"Sometimes, atoms arranged in a certain way just get very, very haunted.

That's us.

When an explosion explodes hard enough,
dust wakes up and thinks about itself."

Field Guide to the Haunted Forest by Jarod K. Anderson

June 23, 2022

The world of Gretchen Felker-Martin's Manhunt is richly and believably imagined, a world where gender identity and gender politics are even messier and more complicated than our own. The characters are complex and not easily sorted into "good" and "bad." I won't say there's something to offend everyone, but there's something to make everyone uneasy. I like that in a book.

"Between the stale, boring trauma of having been molested by a dollar-store white supremacist and the exciting new life-ruining possibilities of whatever was happening to her now, she chose novelty and opened her eyes."

Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin

June 21, 2022

Thoreau complains of Thomas De Quincey that he leaves nothing unsaid. Reading The Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, I have to agree. TDQ can't write about getting high and going to the opera without giving us his theory of music. One paragraph is six pages long.


March 21, 2022

"Turn left at the screaming woman with a collapsing face. Turn right at the kneeling man with bleeding sores the size of teacups. If you come across a big-breasted bear with a child's head in her jaws, you're going the wrong way."

The opening paragraph of The Atrocities by Jeremy C. Shipp


I have no heart?—Perhaps I have not;
But then you're mad to take offence
That I don't give you what I have not got;
Use your own common sense.

Let bygones be bygones;
Don't call me false, who owed not to be true:
I'd rather answer 'No' to fifty Johns
Than answer 'Yes' to you.

Two stanzas from "No thank you, John" by Christina Rossetti (John being an obnoxiously persistent suitor). From Christina Rossetti: A Divided Life by Georgina Battiscombe.

February 26, 2022

"Year after year the number of never-ending floods, hurricanes, and cyclones grows. They call them natural disasters, as if nature were the aggressor and not the victim. World-killing disasters, poor-killing disasters: in Guatemala they say natural disasters are like old cowboy movies, because only the Indians die."

— Eduardo Galeano, Mirrors: Stories of Almost Eveyone, translated by Mark Fried