The Lovely Bones – Excerpt about death

This is one of my favourite parts from The Lovely Bones

“You don’t notice the dead leaving when they really choose to leave you. You’re not meant to. At most you feel them as a whisper or the wave of a whisper undulating down. I would compare it to a woman in the back of a lecture hall or theater whom no one notices until she slips out.Then only those near the door themselves, like Grandma Lynn, notice; to the rest it is like an unexplained breeze in a closed room.


Asineth’s Lesson of Good and Evil (Hart’s Hope)

This is one of my favourite excerpts from Hart’s Hope * Orson Scott Card It explains the meaning of power and what it means to challenge the power of a king.
Dean Koontz Excerpts

Saint Odd Excerpt (Dean Koontz) – The carnival

This specific section of the book moved me. Kudos to Mr. Koontz for so skillfully capturing what draws us to amusement parks and for so perfectly describing it to us. Quote is from Saint Odd (from the Odd Thomas Series). The book is really good and I’ll post a full review when finished.

I walked the fairground midway, where the Whip lashed its riders this way and that, where the Caterpillar enveloped screaming patrons in darkness as it slung them around a track a thousand times faster than any real caterpillar could move, where the Big Drop lifted its gondola two hundred feet into the night and then released it in what seemed to be an uncontrolled free fall, and where the Ferris wheel carried its passengers high and brought them low and raised them high and brought them low again, as if it were not merely a carnival ride but also a metaphor for the basic pattern of human experience.

It’s difficult to spend time in any carnival or amusement park and not realize that a repressed fear of death may be the one emotion that is constant in the human heart even if, most of the time, it is confined to the unconscious as we go about our business. Thrill rides offer us a chance to acknowledge our ever-present dread, to release the tension that arises from repression of it, and to subtly delude ourselves with the illusion of invulnerability that surviving the Big Drop can provide.

The carnival blazed, every ride and many other attractions decorated with low-watt bulbs, neon tubes, blinkers, and twinklers. Strings of colored lights overhung the U-shaped concourse. At the curve of the U, mounted on a flatbed truck and reliant on a chugging gasoline-powered generator, two massive swiveling spotlights threw their beams into the heavens, revealing the bellies of an armada of clouds, like dirigibles, invading silently from the southwest.

In spite of all the colorful lighting that had been crafted to attract patrons and to put them in a celebratory mood, the carnival had an air of hostility and menace that, I felt sure, was not merely my perception.

Within all the dazzle and glitter and bright fake glamor, a hidden presence lurked, a watchful darkness that observed and hated and waited, a presence I had not sensed six suddenly soured. For just a moment, cinnamon had a sulfurous edge and the popcorn butter smelled rancid, as if under all its pretense of good healthy fun, the carnival was a dangerous swamp in which moldered and festered things too horrific to contemplate. The fun house featured the giant face of an ogre, twenty feet from chin to crown, nearly that wide, a dimensional sculpture of such imaginative detail that it managed to be scary at the same time that it was pure hokum.

Periodically a roar issued from its open mouth, and with the roar came a forceful blast of air that traveled about twenty feet into the promenade, surprising people who encountered it for the first time, mussing their hair and startling them so that popcorn was dropped halfway from box to mouth. The ogre’s crazed eyes rolled in their sockets, but I knew that I was being paranoid to think that it was watching me in particular.

Also related to Joyland * Stephen King Book Review

Stephen King

I believe in DOG – From Stephen King’s Eye of the Dragon

“Can you read this word, Peter?’
…’It says GOD.’
‘Yes, that’s right. Now write it backward and see what you find.’
…’DOG! Mamma! It says DOG!’
‘Yes. It says dog.’ The sadness in her voice quenched Peter’s excitement at once. His mother pointed from GOD to DOG. ‘These are the two natures of man,’ she said. ‘Never forget them… Our preachers say that our natures are partly of God and partly of Old Man Splitfoot… But there are few devils outside of made-up stories, Pete — most bad people are more like dogs than devils. Dogs are friendly and stupid, and that’s the way most men and women are when they are drunk. When dogs are excited and confused, they may bite; when men are excited and confused, they may fight. Dogs are great pets because they are loyal, but if a pet is all a man is, he is a bad man, I think. Dogs can be brave, but they may also be cowards that will howl in the dark or run away with their tails between their legs. A dog is just as eager to lick the hand of a bad master as he is to lick the hand of a good one, because dogs don’t know the difference between good and bad.”
― Stephen King, The Eyes of the Dragon


What Happens When You Die * Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

What actually happens when you die is that your brain stops working and your body rots, like Rabbit did when he died and we buried him in the earth at the bottom of the garden. And all his molecules were broken down into other molecules and they went into the earth and were eaten by worms and went into the plants and if we go dig in the same place in 10 years there will be nothing except his skeleton left. And in 1,000 years even his skeleton will be gone. But that is all right because he is part of the flowers and the apple tree and the hawthorn bush now.

When people die they are sometimes put into coffins which means that they don’t mix with the earth for a very long time until the wood of the coffin rots.

But Mother was cremated. This means that she was put into a coffin and burnt and ground up and turned into ash and smoke. I do not know what happens to the ash and I couldn’t ask at the crematorium because I didn’t go to the funeral. But the smoke goes out of the chimney and into the air and sometimes I look up into the sky and I think that there are molecules of Mother up there, or in clouds over Africa or the Antartic, or coming down as rain in rainforests in Brazil, or in snow somewhere.

Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time


It seems that the world is very old. * She Excerpt

“Old? Yes, it is old indeed. Time after time have nations, ay, and rich and strong nations, learned in the arts, been and passed away and been forgotten, so that no memory of them remains. This is but one of several; for Time eats up the works of man, unless, indeed, he digs in caves like the people of Kôr, and then mayhap the sea swallows them, or the earthquake shakes them in. Who knows what hath been on the earth, or what shall be? There is no new thing under the sun, as the wise Hebrew wrote long ago. Yet were not these people utterly destroyed, as I think. Some few remained in the other cities, for their cities were many. But the barbarians from the south, or perchance my people, the Arabs, came down upon them, and took their women to wife, and the race of the Amahagger that is now is a bastard brood of the mighty sons of Kôr, and behold it dwelleth in the tombs with its fathers’ bones.[*]

The name of the race Ama-hagger would seem to indicate a curious mingling 
of races such as might easily have occurred in the neighbourhood of the 
Zambesi. The prefix “Ama” is common to the Zulu and kindred races, and 
signifies “people,” while “hagger” is an Arabic word meaning a stone.

But I know not: who can know? My arts cannot pierce so far into the blackness of Time’s night. A great people were they. They conquered till none were left to conquer, and then they dwelt at ease within their rocky mountain walls, with their man servants and their maid servants, their minstrels, their sculptors, and their concubines, and traded and quarrelled, and ate and hunted and slept and made merry till their time came. But come, I will show thee the great pit beneath the cave whereof the writing speaks. Never shall thine eyes witness such another sight.”

Rider Haggard – She * Book check by Margaret Atwood


Cloud Atlas Excerpt * On the power of men

“Power.” What do we mean? ‘The ability to determine another man’s luck.’
You men of science, building tycoons and opinion formers: my jet could take off from La Guardia, and before I touched down in BY you’d be a nobody.
You Wall Street moguls, selected officials, judges, I might need more time to knock you off your perches, but your eventual downfall would be just as total.

…Yet how is it that some men attain mastery over others while the vast majority live and die as minions, as livestock?
The answer is a holy trinity.
First: God-given gifts of charisma.
Second: the discipline to nurture these gifts to maturity, for though humanity’s topsoil is fertile with talent, only one seed in ten thousand will ever flower — for want of discipline.
Third: the will to power.”

This is the enigma at the core of the various destinies of men. What drives some to accrue power where the majority of their compatriots lose, mishandle, or eschew power? Is it addiction? Wealth? Survival? Natural selection? I propose these are all pretexts and results, not the root cause. The only answer can be, “There is no ‘Why’. This is our nature.” “Who” and “What” run deeper than “Why.”’

The worst sex scene in 1Q84 – Extract from Haruki Murakami

Book 1 (1Q84 – Book 1 * Haruki Murakami)

He was naked when he awoke, and so was Fuka-Eri. Completely and totally naked. Her breasts were perfect hemispheres. Her nipples were not overly large, and they were soft, still quietly groping for the maturity that was to come. Her breasts themselves were large, however, and fully ripe. They seemed to be virtually uninfluenced by the force of gravity, the nipples turned beautifully upward, like a vine’s new tendrils seeking sunlight. The next thing that Tengo became aware of was that Fuka-Eri had no pubic hair.


We remember what matters

“…the memory-it’s more difficult. It has another kind of desire, one that is born in us as surely as the need to breathe, but because it is never satisfied, we don’t know that it exists. For a moment, between breaths, we don’t need to breathe, so we recognize the need to breathe when it returns.”

“But this one is never gone, so we never notice it.”

“Yes. Yes, you see-our memory can’t hold everything.

Can’t hold every vision we see, every sequence of events that happened to us, everything we read, everything we hear about. It’s too much. If we actually had to do that, we’d be insane before we left our infancy. So we choose. The things that are important. We remember only what matters. And we remember it in certain orders, in patterns that mean things together. In daytime, the sun is up; and all daytime becomes one day, and all nighttime becomes one night-we don’t have to remember every day to remember the idea of day. But we -don’t just remember this-we remember the why. It is daytime because the sun is up. Or the sun is up because it is daytime. You see? We don’t remember randomly. Everything is connected by threads of cause.”


What is a slave? From Wyrms * Orson Scott Card


There are people who do things for fear of the lash.

There are people who do things for fear they will lose their families or their lives. There are people bought and sold. Are they not slaves?

“They are slaves to their passion. Their fear rules them. What power do you have over me if I am not afraid of your lash? Am I your slave, if I am not afraid to lose my family? I obey you, faithfully, completely, because I choose to; am I your slave? And when you come to hate me for my freedom, which is greater than yours, and you command me to do what I will not do, then I stand before you in disobedience. Punish me, then; I choose to be punished. And if the punishment is more than I am willing to accept, then I will use such force as is necessary to stop the punishment, and no more. But never, for a moment, have I done anything but what I choose to do.”