Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

"That night, they lay in bed as husband and wife, as the children snored below them on the sleeping cots. Laila remembered the ease with which they would crowd the air between them with words, she and Tariq, when they were younger, the haywire, brisk flow of their speech, always interrupting each other, tugging each other's collar to emphasize a point, the quickness to laugh, the eagerness to delight. So much had happened since those childhood days, so much that needed to be said. But that first night, it was blessing enough to be beside him. It was blessing enough to know that he was here, to feel the warmth of him next to her, to lie with him, their heads touching, his right hand laced in her left."

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

"I must say a word about fear. It is life's only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unerring ease. It begins in your mind, always. One moment you are feeling calm, self-possessed, happy. Then fear disguised in the garb of mild-mannered doubt, slips into your mind like a spy. Doubt meets disbelief and disbelief tries to push it out. But disbelief is a poorly armed foot soldier. Doubt does away with it with little trouble. you become anxious. Reason comes to do battle for you. You are reassured. Reason is fully equipped with the latest weapons technology. But, to your amazement, despite superior tactics and a number of undeniable victories, reason is laid low. You feel yourself weakening, wavering. Your anxiety becomes dread."

Three Junes by Julia Glass

"Time plays like an accordion in the way that it can stretch out and compress itself in a thousand melodic ways. Months on end may pass blindingly in a quick series of chords, open-shut, together-apart; and then a single melancholy week may seem like a year's pining, one long unfolding note. That first day back I recall in fuguelike detail, with perfect pitch, but as for the next few months, the autumn and early winter before my mother's death, I remember only snatches of a superficial tune."

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

"Suddenly a North Oxford boy whose name she had forgotten, a gaunt, twenty-two-year-old boy with glasses, came out of the darkness and trapped her. Without preamble, he began to outline for her the consequences of a single hydrogen bomb falling on Oxford. Almost a decade ago, when they were both thirteen, he had invited her to his home in Park Town, only three streets away, to admire a new invention, a television set, the first she had ever seen. On a small, grey, cloudy screen framed by carved mahogany doors, a man in a dinner jacket sat at a desk in what looked like a blizzard. Florence thought it was a ridiculous contraption without a future, but forever after, this boy-John? David? Michael?- seemed to believe she owed him her friendship, and here he was again, still calling in the debt."

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

"I heard a debate once on the theme "Character Is Destiny." It was an undergraduate affair and ended in disarry because the protagonists had failed to define their terms beforehand. They came unstuck on destiny. Clearly if a random hit by a meteorite is your destiny, your personality doesn't have much bearing on your fate.

Still, it's an interesting idea. Take Luke, for example. You could argue that his determination, his refusal to consider the possibility of failure, made things happen. Matt was far more rational, but Luke's irrationality paid off in the end, almost as if destiny were bending to his will."