The Miraculous Journey of Edward Toulane

This book is so important. You should give this book to your child, your partner, your dog, your neighbour, and your plant. You should give this book to anyone you know who needs some hope in their lives.

Edward Tulane does not appreciate love. He does not appreciate other people. He does not appreciate what others have to say. He judges others based on how well they can tend to his wants and needs and how they make him feel. He is incapable of imagining others complexly; others are purely understood based on how they relate to him.

But then Edward is stripped and goes overboard a ship to sink to the bottom of the quiet, barren waters. What do you know? Edward misses home. Edward understands that those people he’d been judging so harshly had really improved his life for the better. Being alone and naked at the bottom of the ocean, he realized how helpless he is, and how much he has to rely on others.

And then Edward is found by a fisherman, who brings him home to his wife. And then. Edward realizes he loves them. He loves their company. He loves hearing their stories. He is happy to live with them and wear the dresses they made for him.

And then he gets thrown into the garbage. He is under a pile of trash at the dump and he is alone again. Until he gets found. Again. This time by a dog who brings Edward to his owner, a vagabond who embraces Edward’s company and carries him with him from camp to camp. By the light of the campfire, Edward realizes that he is once again, experiencing love.

Over time, Edward becomes known to other nomads as a listening ear to whom people whisper the names of their loved ones. Edward’s heart grows and grows as he realizes that so many other people have lived through what he has. Other people are also missing people that he loves. Here, Edward begins to understand that other people are as complete and complex as himself. Their lives continue before and past Edward’s existence and experience.

And then Edward is lost again. And then found again. This time, his arms are spread and he is nailed to a frame to become a scarecrow. And something terrible happens. Edward’s heart starts to break. Every time he discovers love, it gets ripped away from him, and he is helpless in stopping it.

But then he is found again, and he is given to a dying, little girl to whom he is her only comfort in her scary and disappointing life. It isn’t long before Edward forgets his heartbreak and finds himself loving again.  He loves her and he is happy to be there for her right through the the day she dies, when he is left devastated again.

And his last shred of hope is gone. Ultimately, he ends up smashed to pieces, and then on the shelf of a doll shop, completely repaired– visibly. On the inside, he has given up. After having been hurt so many times, he chooses to never love again, but rather to harden his heart and want for nothing. So with this new attitude, he sits on the shelf and is looked over day after day.

But then one day, a new doll is placed next to him on the shelf who senses his hopelessness. She tells him that loss is beautiful because it gives you the opportunity to hope and dream about your next love.

…and I won’t say what happens next.

So you can see the wonderful lessons that this book teaches about hope and love and loss. It amazes me how well Kate DiCamillo can create a narrative about such huge and complex ideas in such a simple and beautiful way.

This book is wonderful. I read it in one sitting (and got a little sunburn!) I recommend it!

 

 

The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff

I didn’t know that I was like Piglet. I don’t know who I thought I was, and I certainly had no idea that I could fall into one category so neatly. Before this book, I hadn’t felt like I could pin myself down… and that’s okay by the way. I think that it is a temptation with which many of us are presented to try to categorize ourselves the way we had to categorize book and film characters in high school. I don’t believe that we need labels in order to be. I don’t think that we need to know “who we are” in order to be. I don’t think we need to find or express our “true selves.” I think that we just need to be, to be.

That being said, I still believe that self-reflection is important. And while I don’t have to be A CAPITALIST or A SOCIALIST or A BOOK LOVER or A NERD OF THIS VARIETY, I can recognize that I have certain tendencies– certain strengths and certain weaknesses. This book made it clear for me, what sorts of things those might be.

To clarify, upon reading this book, I can see that I can relate to Piglet. I do not, however, define myself as A PIGLET. I don’t suddenly need to go out and buy Piglet socks, a Piglet backpack, a Piglet sweater, and a Piglet poster. I can relate to Piglet without having Piglet on my wall and body or even in my explicit language. Because I can “be” and by being, I show people my being, I don’t need to show people that I am showing them my being.

What did I relate to, then? I related to the feelings of inadequacy, the fear of trying, the fear of failing, the fear of succeeding, and the fear of “what if?” Benjamin Hoff says that  we should just let whatever is coming, come. We do not really know what is good and what is bad. When someone says that something is bad, or your intuition tells you that something is bad, ask, “How do you know?” And realize that you don’t know whether something will be “good” or “bad.” Really, the two should be treated the same, because obstacles and gifts can, and often do, come from both the things we perceive to be good, and the things we perceive to be bad. Furthermore, we are not so small and helpless. When we fear the “what if?” and we remember that “good” and “bad” are imaginary, we can also ask ourselves “What is the ‘worst’ thing that could happen?” “What is the thing that we are having the most anxiety about?” “What is our greatest fear right now?” and we can then think about what we might do in that circumstance. We will do something in every circumstance, and that makes us realize that we do have control. We may be small, but we are not helpless hapless victims.

I have had anxiety about running out of money. When I think about the “worst” possible thing, or the thing on which my mind is most occupied in terms of this fear, I would say that I fear being homeless or being unable to eat. When I think about that though, I know that if I were on that path, If I were unable to afford all of my bills, I would know it ahead of time. I am smart with my finances, and I can certainly look at my balance and know whether or not I will be in trouble in the near future. That did happen to me once. I looked at my bank account and I knew I wouldn’t be able to survive another year at school without a job. So I got a job. If anything were to happen again where a job was still not enough, I could put off school and get more hours, or I could go home and start over.

Bottom line: I would be okay. I think about my greatest worry and I realize that there is no reason to worry. And if the “worst” thing were to happen, I don’t even know if it would be good or bad. It could be both. I am okay.

The book also focuses a lot on political and economic issues and their relation to sustainability. It criticizes capitalism and “materialism” (which is really not very material at all… more on that later) and, rather, sends a hopeful message that all of those corrupt systems will fall apart and will give way to “The Day of Piglet” in which people will recognize that their relative size to each other is irrelevant because they are all small. They are smaller than the smallest organism and the smallest subatomic particles. They are, in fact, the smallest. They are the bottom. When this time comes, people are aware of their duty to be in awe of the grandness and beauty of creation. They will look at water and say “wow!” and then they will ask “why does it move that way?” and we will learn from nature, not fear it, try to isolate ourselves from it, or try to conquer it.

Significant Quotations:

“Today, thanks to this rather lopsided cultural foundation, we live in what is commonly described as  a Materialistic Society. But that description is in error. Ours is in reality an Abstract Value society– one in which things are not appreciated for what they are  so much as what they represent. If Western industrial society appreciated the Material World, there would be no junkyards, no clearcut forests, no shoddily designed and manufactured products, no poisoned water sources, no obese, fuel-guzzling automobiles, nor any of the other horrors and eyesores that haunt us at every turn. If ours were a materialistic society, we would love the physical world– and we would know our limits within it.” p. 126

“If the sun and moon lost their light, the mountains and rivers abandoned their vitality, and the four seasons came to an end, no insect or plant would retain its true nature. Yet this is the condition produced in men by an obsession for knowledge. Honesty and simplicity are overlooked, and restlessness is admired. Quiet, effortless action is forgotten, and loud quarreling is heard.Such is the nature of hunger for knowledge. Its noise throws the world into chaos.” p.133

“For one unfortunate thing about Owl…is that he has an image to maintain. And Maintaining an Image tends to get in the way of seeing What’s There. If one can’t clearly see What’s There, how can one learn it? And if one can’t learn it, how can one teach it?” p.165

“Treat gain and loss as the same… don’t be Intimidated. Don’t make a Big Deal of anything– just accept things as they come to you. The Universe know what it’s doing. So don’t develop a big ego, and don’t be afraid.” p. 208

Final Thoughts:

I would recommend this book to anyone who feels small, and whose biggest fear is being too small. In my life, I have broken down several times when other people made me feel small. I have said that nothing upsets me more than being made to feel small. This helped me to change my perspective a little so that I could see the Virtue of the Small.

 

 

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Turn out the lights, children, and walk through this gothic archway. Ignore the bloody nun. Are your bones chilled? Is your blood boiled? Good. Wait…What was that? Was that a… no… no… it couldn’t be. Was that the sound of a door creaking? Nooooooooo!!!

Sorry. I finished reading Frankenstein yesterday, and I must say that it is much much better than any of the trashy seventeeth century gothic tales and fragments that I had read prior. My summary of seventeenth century gothic: much cheese. I’m sorry. There are surely some good works. But you can’t deny that there was also some cheese.

 

But I’m not talking about them. I am talking about Frankenstein. And of course, I never pass up an opportunity to talk about Cain and Abel. Rejection as the source of evil is a very prominent idea in this novel. When Victor Frankenstein (ps anyone still calling the actual monster ‘Frankenstein’ and not Frankenstein’s monster is getting the guillotine) finally brings his monster to life, he runs away. That is the monster’s first impression of life; he sees another person for the first time, and he is rejected. Not only is he rejected by another living being, but he is rejected by his creator. The hands that built him regret his existence. Furthermore, following Victor’s success, Victor becomes increasingly miserable. So the monster is rejected, but more than that, his very existence actually initiated depression in another person. And this continues to be the monster’s experience. No wonder he becomes so malicious. It is difficult to be at the very least benign when everyone around you conceives you as abhorrent without any reason to do so apart from fearing your appearance.

And the story carries on, doesn’t it? Even today, Frankenstein’s monster is commonly viewed as just that, a monster, when in truth, he is a victim of circumstance and a product of rejection. His figure, though undeniably horrible, represents a dejected victim more than anything else. Try scaring the kids with that.

Actually, despite his circumstances, and his initially desire to be good, Frankenstein’s monster isn’t any less scary. In fact, I would argue that he is more scary. He is still hideous, and creepy in that slightly inhuman way, but he also represents how scary the world can be, and how scary rejection can be. He is not scary because he is an abomination, he is an abomination because he was a victim of judgement and rejection caused by society, which is very scary.

Victor Frankenstein could be seen as the one to blame, since I think it is safe to say that his rejection would have hit his monster the hardest, and it was the first stone thrown; however, he didn’t know. It would be easy to fault him for not giving his monster a chance and for jumping to conclusions. But he didn’t know. He was scared. I get that. If I had created some super creepy, sort of human, thing, and it came to life, you can bet your Pokémon cards that I’d be scared too. I’d have run too. Of course. Maybe there are some people who would have stayed. To you I say, good job, you brave little toaster, you. I maintain that Victor’s reaction is absolutely reasonable, and not at all evil, even though it was hurtful.

Not only is Victor afraid of his creation, but I would argue that he is afraid of himself. In bringing his monster to life, he raises himself to a god-like position. That’s a lot of power. That is a terrifying concept to grapple with. Suddenly he is responsible not only for himself, but also for the thing that he created. This explains his tendency to equalize his monster’s actions with his own, such as when he calls himself a murderer after learning of his monster’s crimes.

There was also clearly a deep sense of disappointment for Victor. He had passionately devoted himself to creating life, and his creation does not rise to his expectations. Instead, left him empty. Greatness is a lonely occupation, and Victor Frankenstein entered such a career enthusiastically. The experience of disappointment rather than joy at the moment his hard work was meant to pay off would be a shock. It is again, therefore understandable that Victor becomes depressed. Ambition too, can be a cause of evil.

Overall. Very interesting. Very gothic, but not spooky. You are probably safe reading it alone in the dark (if you have a reading light that is, or spy vision goggles, or a laser beam function in your eyes, or glow in the dark highlighters, or a glow stick necklace. Otherwise, no. None of that.)

And the quotations:

“For nothing contributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose– a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.”

“We are unfashioned creatures, but half made up, if one the wiser, better, dearer than ourselves– such a friend ought to be– do not lend his aid to perfectionate our weak and faulty natures.”

“I ardently hope that the gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to sting you, as mine have been.”

“My mother’s tender caresses, and my father’s smile of benevolent pleasure while regarding me, are my first recollections. I was their plaything and their idol, and something better– their child, the innocent and helpless creature bestowed upon them by heaven, whom to bring up to good, and whose future lot it was in their hands to direct to happiness or misery, according as they fulfilled their duties towards me.”

“The world was to me a secret which I desired to divine. Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature, gladness akin to rapture as they were unfolded to me, are among the earliest sensations I can remember.”

“Destiny was too potent, and her immutable laws had decreed my utter and terrible destruction.”

“How dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow.”

“A human being in perfection ought always to preserve a calm and peaceful mind and never to allow passion or a transitory desire to disturb his tranquility. I do not think that the pursuit of knowledge is an exception to this rule. If the study to which you apply yourself has a tendency to weaken your affections and to destroy your taste for those simple pleasures in which no alloy can possibly mix, then that study is certainly unlawful, that is to say, no befitting the human mind.”

“How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavored to form? His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness, but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost the same colour as the dun white sockets in which they were set, his shriveled complexion and straight black lips.”

“I had desired it with an ardour that exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and the breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room and continued a long time traversing my bedchamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep.”

“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.”

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”

“Satan has his companions, fellow-devils, to admire and encourage him; but I am solitary and detested.”

“Even broken in spirit as he is, no one can feel more deeply than he does the beauties of nature. The starry sky, the sea, and every sight afforded by these wonderful regions, seems still to have the power of elevating his soul from earth. Such a man has a double existence: he may suffer misery, and be overwhelmed by disappointments; yet, when he has retired into himself, he will be like a celestial spirit that has a halo around him, within whose circle no grief or folly ventures.”

 

Maus by Art Spiegelman

I have tried to start this post so many times now. Maybe I should have waited. It’s really hard to know what to say when you are in a fog. I read both volumes together in less than a day, and now I’m in a fog. Usually, I think that the fog is a good thing; that is the mark of having read a good book.
But this book is not a good book. It is brilliant. haunting. honest. honest. and the honesty makes it disturbing, but it is not good.

 

If you haven’t heard of it, Maus is a graphic novel that Art Spiegelman created to tell his father’s story about surviving the holocaust; and also the story of the way Art and his father relate outside of the story; and also the story of Art trying to put the story together. There are three settings then: the most distant past (the holocaust), the past (Art getting his father to tell his story), and the present (Art creating the book and dealing with media attention).

All of the people are represented as animals. The metaphor is clear; the Jews are mice; the filthy vermin, forced into hiding from the Germans, represented by cats. There is actually a quote from Hitler that opens the first volume
“The Jews are undoubtedly a race, but they are not human,” which makes it very clear.
What is interesting is that the metaphor isn’t seamless, and that is addressed. When Vladek’s (Art’s father) story is being told, everyone is an animal, though when the Jews are trying to pass as Poles, they wear pig masks. Outside of the holocaust story, there are times when Art questions whether his metaphor has broken by talking about this therapist owning dogs, and talking to his French wife, Francoise, about what animal should represent her. And when the story moves to the present, everyone is human, but they are wearing animal masks.

I think that the discontinuity of the mouse metaphor only adds to it’s effectiveness. One of the major things that the Germans had over the Jews was the ability to keep them afraid by keeping them confused. Conditions would improve, and then worsen, and then worsen, and then improve, then they’d narrowly escape death, then they’d live comfortably, and so on. There wasn’t order. The confusion and uncertainty that Art expresses throughout only strengthen the book’s honesty, and make it more genuine.

One of the issues that Art raises that interested me, was his frustration with his father, and his fear that his tendency to act exactly according to Jewish stereotypes, inadvertently. He talks about other people having survived the camps, and not turning out like Vladek. It’s interesting that despite knowing everything Vladek went through to survive, Art can still be annoyed by and critical of his father. The thing is, Art isn’t trying to paint a picture of a perfect relationship, because his relationship with his father is not perfect. See? Honest. At times, hauntingly so.

It’s interesting that all of my favourite books are about mice.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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Greetings. We need to have a talk. About Great Expectations. Let’s talk about Great Expectations. Tell me, did you think that Great Expectations was boring? Did you think it was a snooze? Did you think it was worse than slugs? Was it so horribly boring that you cried? Did you only read Great Expectations because your English teacher held a gun to either side of your head, and one to your abdomen, and one to your right elbow (that’s right, the right elbow, there is a 70-90% chance that that is the elbow of your dominant hand… though I guess it doesn’t necessarily follow that that is your dominant elbow… I digress. It’s bad either way… wait, also, why does your English teacher have so many arms?? Sorry.)
If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, I really hope that it was not to the last question. Sorry if it was.
Seriously though, you’re wrong. It might not have been your fault. Maybe your parents screwed you up, or maybe it was society’s fault.
You’re wrong though, you are. This is not one of those opinion-based situations. Fact. Great Expectations is really good. I’ll admit that it might not be good the first time, and it might not be good if you are being forced to read it (because nothing is good when it is forced. fact.) but it is good. And I will tell you why in one word.

Psychology. That word always takes me a couple of times to spell. It didn’t take Dickens any attempts to spell it properly, because he didn’t spell it… or I highly doubt he did. That is the thing that makes me love English, though. Writers (like Dickens) were able to observe and capture many very curious phenomena about the function of the human brain, including the interesting stuff that occurs in the sub-conscious, before figures like Freud, for example, had discussed them.

I want to include a bit of a disclaimer here and say that I do not have much knowledge of psychology– I’ve never taken a class on it or anything– everything I know about psychology I know from what people have told me, and what I have learned from literature (very few specifically about psychology).

There are some very interesting ideas expressed in Great Expectations about the human mind, particularly the subconscious human mind, and my favourite manifestation of these ideas is through the parallel characters of Pip and Orlick, who can also be described using the German word “doppelgänger,” which essentially denotes a double of a living person.

Pip and Orlick are doppelgängers for several reasons, which I have summarized in the following list:

  • They are similar in age
  • They both work in the same forge initially
  • They both pine for a woman that is beyond their reach (Pip for Estella and Orlick for Biddy)
  • They both love Biddy
  • They both experience a rise in social status
  • They are both in direct contact with a convict (Pip with Magwitch and Orlick with Compeyson)

Now, what is important about these similarities, is that they lead to Orlick’s growing disdain for Pip because Pip is always preventing Orlick from getting what he wants:

  • Pip warns Biddy to stay away from Orlick
  • Pip is granted a half-holiday from the forge that Orlick is not initially given
  • Pip talks Jaggers into terminating Orlick’s position working for Miss Havisham at Satis house

It’s funny that Orlick has such contempt for Pip because they are connected so deeply. I fact, the further Pip descends down the path of immorality, the more like Orlick he becomes, and the more he feels connected to his foe. As the novel progresses, Pip begins to feel guilty for crimes that he himself did not commit, but rather those that Orlick committed. Pip feels guilty when Orlick hits Mrs. Joe, for instance. And the reason Pip feels guilty is likely because Orlick was fulfilling Pip’s subconscious desires. It is surely not difficult to believe that Pip would have a secret wish to fight Joe, the source of his embarrassment. What is even more interesting is Orlick’s seemingly innocent demeanor through it all, like he weren’t acting on his own convictions. During his visits with Mrs. Joe after attacking her, his confusion is apparent. The idea is that his actions are based on Pip’s desires, not his own.

My favourite piece of this puzzle is the final one, because that is always oh so satisfying. In the big show-down between Orlick and Pip ( I get giddy just thinking about this bit) their existence as doubles could not be more clear.
“afore I kill you like any other beast . . . I’ll have a good look at you. Oh, you enemy!” conjures up an image of two adversaries staring at each other as though staring into a mirror. Now, throughout the novel, all of Orlick’s actions were seemingly motivated by the desires of Pip’s sub-conscious mind. It only makes sense that that pattern would continue until their final encounter. Therefore, Orlick trying to kill Pip is actually a reflection of Pip’s desire to kill himself. WAIT. I don’t think that Pip actually wanted to kill himself, but I do believe that Pip wanted to destroy that part of him that was acting according to much lower moral standards than those he was acting upon pre-Stella.
Wait, you ask, Orlick was unsuccessful, but Pip experiences a re-ascension in morality. Correct. And I don’t think that transformation actually required Pip to die… that wouldn’t work at all, in fact. It is enough that Pip expressed the desire (through Orlick, of course) to eliminate his previous judgemental, pompous self.

With the conclusion of that encounter, Orlick disappears from the narrative. I also think it is interesting that Orlick’s coming and going in the novel seems to align with Pip’s moral decline. Orlick is first introduced when Pip is working in the forge, about the time he begins his visits to satis house, which is also the time he develops a shameful attitude toward his being “coarse and common.” And likewise, Orlick leaves the story after trying to kill Pip, which is right around the time that Pip is showing signs of high moral behaviour. Right? Right. Fascinating stuff.

If you want to read more about doppelgangers, here is the link to the Wikipedia page on the subject. I thought that this page was interesting enough to post because I liked the bits about famous doppelganger instances.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doppelganger

And speaking of fascinating, I simply must discuss my favourite story that can possibly be alluded to in a novel. Cain and Abel. Of course Cain and Abel, it’s always Cain and Abel. Have you seen how excited I got about John Steinbeck’s East of Eden? If not, ch ch ch check it out! Or not. I’m just being a wack job, but seriously, the links are here if you want:

East of Eden by John Steinbeck (Abstract painting and afterthought)

East of Eden by John Steinbeck (My impression)

East of Eden by John Steinbeck (Significant Quotes and Analysis)

East of Eden by John Steinbeck (character analysis)

East of Eden by John Steinbeck (Mountain Ranges)

If you are familiar with the story of Cain and Abel, you will likely be aware of the fact that Cain was proclaimed to forever be a “restless wanderer on the Earth” and, sorry, I had the quote highlighted, but my copy of the book is a five-hour drive away, but there is a moment that Pip takes to describe the way Orlick walks. He seems to wander into places as if it is an accident, never with any purpose, and he always has his head down, I believe (correct me if I’m wrong). Does that not sound like a restless wanderer to you?
The allusion goes a bit further as well. One of the major ideas in Cain and Abel is the idea that one of the sons was revered, while the other was rejected. Pip and Orlick both want many of the same things, but only Pip actually receives some of these things, while Orlick is continually rejected. And what is Orlick’s reaction? To try to kill Pip.

That’s right. Orlick is the biblical Cain and a doppelganger.

Now tell me Great Expectations isn’t fascinating, and I only talked about two themes. This book is so rich, you could talk about it from exactly many angles, no more, no less. Sorry. Anyway, as I said, I don’t have my book with me, so I can’t include my favourite quotations, but what I will do is include my two absolute favourite quotations, because I can actually recall them:

“and that the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was Pip.”

-Dickens just captures the mind of a child so well. so well. sooo well. I just love “small bundle of shivers,” it really gets me. It does.

“Out of my thoughts! You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read, since I first came here, the rough common boy whose poor heart you wounded even then. You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since – on the river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the light, in the darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea, in the streets. You have been the embodiment of every graceful fancy that my mind has ever become acquainted with. The stones of which the strongest London buildings are made, are not more real, or more impossible to displace with your hands, than your presence and influence have been to me, there and everywhere, and will be. Estella, to the last hour of my life, you cannot choose but remain part of my character, part of the little good in me, part of the evil. But, in this separation I associate you only with the good, and I will faithfully hold you to that always, for you must have done me far more good than harm, let me feel now what sharp distress I may. O God bless you, God forgive you!”

-While I think Pip is foolish and masochistic in regards to his love for Estella, I couldn’t help but to love this moment. It was built up so well, and it was so sweetly done, it was hard not to.

Also, I recommend the 1946 film adaptation, but only because it stars Alec Guinness as Herbet Pocket and because the transition between Pip as a young boy, to Pip as a young man is hysterical. In one scene, he is a little boy (Anthony Wager), and then he turns around and he is an old man (John Mills).Well. Maybe not an old man, but certainly older than Pip ought to be, even in his gentleman years, and CERTAINLY older than one would normally age over the span of one second. Also, the portrayal of Miss Havisham is altogether good for a laugh. Many funny sounds emerge from that woman’s mouth. And the ending is certainly interesting. A bit too cheery for my taste, but perhaps satisfying if you were disappointed with the ambiguity that the book’s ending presented.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

I feel a little guilty. Why, you ask? Goooood question. John Green is not well-represented on my blog. I have read all of his books, and I have bountiful respect for the man; however, if you looked at my history of writing about his works, it would appear that I am rather divided– particularly because my response to the highly revered The Fault in Our Stars was pretty apathetic.
And that’s not always the case, certainly. I think it’s clear that I loved Paper Towns (that’s my favourite, actually), and I also really liked An Abundance of Katherines and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (I can’t really say the same for Looking for Alaska… sorry). The only reason they haven’t been represented is because I read them before I started writing this blog. Maybe I’ll re-read the others and get my thoughts out there one day, but I digress.

I did re-read Will Grayson, Will Grayson over the break, desperately needing a break from required reading, and it hit the spot.
For those who have never read it, it is written by both John Green and David Levithan. Each author is responsible for one of the two characters named Will Grayson, and the chapters alternate between the perspectives of the two Will Grayson’s. Now, I have never read anything by David Levithan (yet.I’ve got some of his books on my list of things to read) but it is painfully clear which author is writing which chapter, which isn’t a bad thing, just something I noticed.

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John Green’s Will Grayson opens the novel, and he seems like a typical John Green character to me; he starts off with low self-awareness, low self-confidence, and can be a bit of a jerk, but as he develops, he learns and gains self-awareness and new understandings of the people around him and how they are connected, and becomes much more likeable in the end. This Will Grayson’s major lessons have to do with friendship as well as risk-taking. He disputes the notion that one can “pick their friends” as occurs in the saying “you can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but you cannot pick your friend’s nose,” because he admits that he would never have picked Tiny to be his best friend. Initially, he sees Tiny as a glaring beacon, something preventing him from quietly nesting in the shadows of the school hallways. And this is probably true. It would be difficult to blend in given that Tiny is ironically, not Tiny all. On the contrary, he is rather gigantic, actually. He also has a loud personality to match his size, and he is gay, which inevitably draws attention in a high school.

Will learns later, that not only can he pick his friends nose, but given the chance, he would, in fact, choose Tiny to be his friend. From Tiny, Will learns that perhaps safety isn’t always safe (“you can find one in every gun,” to quote Andrea Gibson). Stepping out of his comfort zone allowed him to open up enough to fall in love, something he had previously tried to prevent himself from doing. Honestly, my favourite thing about John Green’s portion of this book is that he was able to weave the concept of “you can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but you cannot pick your friend’s nose,” throughout the story, and make it insightful, and not terribly cheesy.

David Levithan’s Will Grayson was very interesting to me. He deals with depression, but he isn’t in the thick of his depression. He has had it for some time, and is just living his life and dealing with it day by day. Levithan actually talks a bit about this at the end of the book. I can’t quote it because I left my copy with my mom before I went back to school, but he essentially says that most of the characters with depression that are written about are in the darkest depths, or at the onset of the issue. He said that he wanted to introduce a character that is managing his depression, and is just trying to live his life. I also thought is was interesting that he didn’t use any capital letters or quotation marks. I thought that it was a neat method of characterization.

Two big things stuck out to me in his narrative. The first was his relationship with Maura. I was so angry with her. So angry. I was so so angry with her when it is revealed that she was pretending to be “Isaac” the boy Will had been talking to online, and had developed feelings for. I guess she craved some kind of honest interaction with him, and that satisfied her. Her character isn’t exactly likeable, but she is relatable. I think many of us have felt like a Maura at one time or another, desperately craving attention from someone who is fairly apathetic, and basically taking anything she can get. Will finally deals with her in the best way possible– he is honest with her. It can seem better to string someone along so you won’t hurt them, but every tiny rejection that occurs throughout the span of time where you are trying not to hurt them (every ignored text or uncaring/annoyed response, or brushed off date, etc.) can equate to so much more than one honest conversation.

The other thing that stuck out to me in Levithan’s Will Grayson’s story is the idea that you don’t have to want to have sex with someone to love someone. Sex is so ubiquitously advertised as the ultimate goal throughout the media, and that doesn’t necessarily have to be so. This isn’t really referring so much to romantic relationships, but friendships. You’re allowed to love people in a platonic way. Ever notice how often two people who have a strong friendship relationship are “shipped”? I think that’s a great way to objectify people and their relationships, and make them about entertainment as opposed to love. I learned this mostly from Levithan’s Will Grayson, because of his relationship with Tiny that didn’t come to fruition, but the best quote on this idea actually came from John Green’s Will Grayson:

“NO. No no no. I don’t want to screw you. I just love you. When did who you want to screw become the whole game? Since when is the person you want to screw the only person you get to love? It’s so stupid, Tiny! I mean, Jesus, who even gives a fuck about sex?! People act like it’s the most important thing humans do, but come on. How can our sentient fucking lives revolve around something slugs can do. I mean, who you want to screw and whether you screw them? Those are important questions, I guess. But they’re not that important. You know what’s important? Who would you die for? Who do you wake up at five forty-five in the morning for even though you don’t even know why he needs you? Whose drunken nose would you pick?!”

Right?

Anyway, here are my other favourite quotations:

“Maybe there’s something you’re afraid to say, or someone you’re afraid to love, or somewhere you’re afraid to go. It’s gonna hurt. It’s gonna hurt because it matters.”

“You like someone who can’t like you back because unrequited love can  be survived in a way that once-requited love cannot. ”

“When things break, it’s not the actual breaking that prevents them from getting back together again. It’s because a little piece gets lost – the two remaining ends couldn’t fit together even if they wanted to. The whole shape has changed.”

“i do not say ‘good-bye.’ i believe that’s one of the bullshittiest words ever invented. it’s not like you’re given the choice to say ‘bad-bye’ or ‘awful-bye’ or ‘couldn’t-care-less-about-you-bye.’ every time you leave, it’s supposed to be a good one. well, i don’t believe in that. i believe against that.”

“this is why we call people exes, I guess – because the paths that cross in the middle end up separating at the end. it’s too easy to see an X as a cross-out. it’s not, because there’s no way to cross out something like that. the X is a diagram of two paths.”

“i will admit there’s a certain degree of giving a fuck that goes into not giving a fuck. by saying you don’t care if the world falls apart, in some small way you’re saying you want it to stay together, on your terms.”

 

Favourite Quotations of 2013

For whatever reason, it is largely agreed that January is the beginning of the calendar, and as such, it is also the time for about the past and planning for new beginnings. I advocate doing these sorts of things any time of year, but this time I guess I’ve conformed. I was looking through all the quotations that I’ve posted on my blog in the past year, as well as some others that I had recorded in my journal, and I decided to compile my favourite quotations from my literary adventures in 2013. So here they are.

“The real heroes of the wish factory are the young men and women who wait like Vladimir and Estragon wait for Godot and good Christian girls wait for marriage. These young heroes wait stoically and without complaint for their one true wish to come along. Sure, it may never come along, but at least they can rest easily in their grave knowing that they’ve done their little part to preserve the integrity of the wish as an idea.” (John Green, The Fault in Our Stars)

“That’s who you really like. The people you can think out loud in front of.” (John Green, An Abundance of Katherines)

“When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never looking inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.” (John Green, Paper Towns)

“Have no fear of robbers or murderers. They are external dangers, petty dangers. We should fear ourselves. Prejudices are the real robbers; vices the real murderers. The great dangers are within us. Why worry about what threatens our heads or our purses? Let us think instead of what threatens our souls.” (Victor Hugo, Les Miserables)

“Far be it from me to insult the pun!” (Victor Hugo, Les Miserables)

“The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves– say rather, loved in spite of ourselves; this conviction the blind have.” (Victor Hugo, Les Miserables)

“There is a man with a rather unsavoury look.” (Victor Hugo, Les Miserables)

“As for methods of prayer, all are good, as long as they are sincere.” (Victor Hugo, Les Miserables)

“Thought is the true triumph of the soul.” (Victor Hugo, Les Miserables)

“The whole of history is merely one long repetition. One century plagiarizes another.” (Victor Hugo, Les Miserables)

“Monsieur Mabeuf’s political opinion was a passionate fondness for plants, and still a greater one for books. He had, like everyone else, his suffix ist without which nobody could live in those days, but he was neither a royalist, nor a Bonapartist, nor a chartist, nor an Orleanist, nor an anarchist; he was an old-bookist.” (Victor Hugo, Les Miserables)

“She read aloud, as she understood better that way. In reading aloud you assume authority for what you are reading.” (Victor Hugo, Les MIserables)

“People rarely fall without being degraded. Besides, there is a point where the unfortunate and the infamous are associated and confused in a word, a mortal word, les miserables; whose fault is it?” (Victor Hugo, Les Miserables)

“Cities, like forests, have their dens in which their vilest and most terrible monsters hide. But in cities, what hides this way is ferocious, unclean, and petty, that is to say, ugly; in forests what hides is ferocious, savage, and great, that is to say beautiful. Den for den, those of beasts are preferable than those of men. Caverns are better than the wretched holes that shelter humanity.” (Victor Hugo, Les Miserables)

“Cosette trembled all over; she asked, “Father, are they still men?”
“Sometimes,” said the man of misery.” (Victor Hugo, Les Miserables)

“Love is the only ecstasy, everything else weeps.”

“As a nation we have a positive genius for self-destruction… we nibble away at ourselves, we eat our children, we pull down anyone who climbs up. But I insist that we shall survive.” (Salmon Rushdie, Shame)

“I am not myself today. The heart flutters. Life damages the living. None of us are ourselves. None of us are like this.” (Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses)

“-but, and again but: this sounds, does it not, dangerously like an unintentionalist fallacy? -such distinctions, resting as they must on an idea of the self as being (ideally) homogeneous, non-hybrid, ‘pure,’- an utterly fantastic notion! -cannot, must not, suffice. No! Let’s rather say an even harder thing: that evil may not be as far beneath our surfaces as we like to say it is- that, in fact, we fall towards it naturally, that is, not against our natures,-and that Saladin Chamcha set out to destroy Gibreel Farishta because finally it proved easy to do; the true appeal of evil being the seductive ease with which one may embark upon that road. (and yet, let us add in conclusion, the late impossibility of return)”
(Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses)

“sometimes when he looked around him, especially in the afternoon heat when the air turned glutinous, the visible world, its feautures and inhabitants and things seemed to be sticking up in the atmosphere like a profusion of hot ice bergs, and he had the idea that everything continued below the surface of the soupy air.” (Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses)

“Like the disciple of the phillosopher-king Chanakya who asked the great man what he meant by saying one could live in the world, but also not live in it, and he was told to carry a brim-full pitcher of water through a holiday crowd without spilling a drop, on pain of death, so that when he returned he was unable to describe the day’s festivities, having been like a blind man, seeing only the jug on his head.”
(Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses)

“A poet’s work… to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start argumentss, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep.” (Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses)

“I remember that the Gabilan Mountains full of sun and loveliness and a kind if invitation, so that you wanted to climb into their warm foothills almost as you want to climb into the lap of a beloved mother. They were beckoning mountains with a brown grass love. The Santa Lucias stood up against the sky to the west and kept the valley from the open sea, and they were dark and brooding -unfriendly ad dangerous. I always found in myself a dread of west and love of east. Where I ever got such an idea I cannot say, unless it could be that morning came over the peaks of the Gabilans and the night drifted back from the ridges of the Santa Lucias. It may be that the birth and death of the day had some part in my feeling about the two ranges of mountains.” (John Steinbeck, East of Eden)

“Adam looked up with sick weariness. His lips parted and failed and tried again. Then his lungs filled. He expelled the air and his lips combed the rushing sigh. His whispered word seemed to hang in the air:
“Timshel!”
(John Steinbeck, East of Eden)

“Nearly all men are afraid, and they don’t even know what causes their fear- shadows, perplexities, dangers without names or numbers, fear of a faceless death. But if you can bring yourself to face not shadows but real death, described and recognizable, by bullet or saber, arrow or lance, then you need never be afraid again, at least not in the same way you were before. Then you will be a man set apart from other men, safe where other men may cry in terror. This is the great reward. Maybe this is the only reward. Maybe this is the final purity all ringed with filth.” (John Steinbeck, East of Eden)

“The greatest terror a child can have is that he is not loved, and rejection is the hell he fears.” (East of Eden, John Steinbeck)

“Let him be free. That’s all a man has over his beasts. Free him! Bless him!” (John Steinbeck, East of Eden)

“Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he still has great choice. HE can choose his course and fight it through and win.” (John Steinbeck, East of Eden)

“Sometimes when we are little we imagine how it would be to have wings, but there is no reason to suppose it is the same feeling birds have. No, to a monster, the norm must seem monstrous, since everyone is normal to himself. To the inner monster it must be even more obscure, since he has no visible thing to compare with others, To a man born without conscience, a soul-stricken man must seem ridiculous. To a criminal, honesty is foolish. You must not forget that a monster is only a variation, and that to a monster, the norm is monstrous.” (John Steinbeck, East of Eden)

“The direction of a big act will warp history, but probably all acts do the same in their own degree, down to a stone stepped over in the path or a breath caught at sight of a pretty girl or a fingernail nicked in garden soil.” (John Steinbeck, East of Eden)

“I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed- because, “Thou mayest.””
(John Steinbeck, East of Eden)

“We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the neverending contest between good and evil. It occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn , while good, while virtue is immortal. Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is.”
(John Steinbeck, East of Eden)

“The world is dark and light is precious. Come closer, dear reader. You must trust me. I am telling you a story.” (Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux)

“Say it, reader. Say the word ‘quest’ out loud. It is an extraordinary word, isn’t it? So small and yet so full of wonder, so full of hope.” (Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux)

“‘It’s impossible’, he said to the darkness, ‘I can’t do it.’
He stood very still.’I’ll go back,’ he said. But he didn’t move. ‘I have to go back.’ He took a step backward. ‘But I can’t go back. I don’t have a choice. I have no choice.’
He took one step forward. And then another.
‘No choice,’ his heart beat out to him as he went down the stairs, ‘no choice, no choice, no choice.’”
(Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux)

“Reader you must know that an interesting fate (sometimes involving rats, sometimes not) awaits almost everyone, mouse or man, who does not conform.” (Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux)

“Reader, you may ask this question; in fact, you must ask this question: Is it ridiculous for a very small, sickly, big-eared mouse to fall in love with a beautiful human princess named Pea?
The answer is… yes. Of course, it’s ridiculous.
Love is ridiculous.” (Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux)

“Despereaux looked down at the book, and something remarkable happened. The marks on the pages, the “squiggles” as Merlot referred to them, arranged themselves into shapes. The shapes arranged themselves into words, and the words spelled out a delicious and wonderful phrase: Once upon a time.”

“There are those hearts, reader, that never mend again once they are broken. Or if they do mend, they heal themselves in a crooked and lopsided way, as if sewn together by a careless craftsmen.”
(Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux)

“You know, my eyes ain’t too good at all. I can’t see nothing but the general shape of things, so I got to rely on my heart. Why don’t you go on and tell me everything about yourself, so as I can see you with my heart.” (Kate DiCamillo, Because of Winn Dixie)

“’Some of them,’ said Gloria Dump. ‘Some of them I would’ve done anyway, with alcohol or without it. Before I learned.’
‘Learned what?’
‘Learned what is the most important thing.’
‘What’s that?’ I asked her.
‘It’s different for everyone.’” (Kate DiCamillo, Because of Winn Dixie)

There was a lot that Billy said that was gibberish to the Tralfamadorians, too. They couldn’t imagine what time looked like to him. Billy had given up on explaining that. The guide outside had to explain as best he could.

“Whatever poor Billy saw through the pipe, he had no choice but to say to himself, “that’s life.””
(Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five)

“Everyone turned into a baby, and all humanity, without exception, conspired biologically to produce to perfect people named Adam and Eve, he supposed,” (Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five)

“Only on Earth is there any talk of free will.” (Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five)

“Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.”
(Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five)

“So it goes.” (Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five)

“They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.” (Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five)

“Pip, dear old chap, life is made of ever so many partings welded together, as I may say, and one man’s a blacksmith, and one’s a whitesmith, and one’s a goldsmith, and one’s a coppersmith. Diwisions among such must come, and must be met as they come.” (Charles Dickens, Great Expectations)

“and that the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was Pip.” (Charles Dickens, Great Expectations)

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” (F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby)

“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.” (F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby)

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther … And one fine morning —” (F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby)

“There is man in his entirety, blaming his shoe when his foot is guilty.”(Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot)

“We have time to grow old. The air is full of our cries. But habit is a great deadener.” (Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot)

“Maybe there’s something you’re afraid to say, or someone you’re afraid to love, or somewhere you’re afraid to go. It’s gonna hurt. It’s gonna hurt because it matters.” (John Green and David Levithan, Will Grayson, Will Grayson)

“Time and experience have taught me that fame and money very rarely go to the worthy, by the way – hence we shouldn’t ever be too impressed by either of those impostors. Value folk for who they are, how they live and what they give – that’s a much better benchmark.” (Bear Grylls, Mud, Sweat, and Tears)

“Why is it that the finish line always tends to appear just after the point at which we most want to give up? Is it the universe’s way of reserving the best for those who can give the most? What I do know, from nature, is that the dawn only appears after the darkest hour.”  (Bear Grylls, Mud, Sweat, and Tears)

“The sun,–the bright sun, that brings back, not light alone, but new life, and hope, and freshness to man–burst upon the crowded city in clear and radiant glory. Through costly-coloured glass and paper-mended window, through cathedral dome and rotten crevice, it shed its equal ray.” (Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist)

“’But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice remarked.

‘Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the Cat: ‘we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.’

‘How do you know I’m mad?’ said Alice.

‘You must be,” said the Cat, or you wouldn’t have come here.’” (Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” (Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?” (Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

“The time has come,” the walrus said, “to talk of many things: Of shoes and ships – and sealing wax – of cabbages and kings” (Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

“Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.” (The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde)

“Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.” (The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde)

“Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world’s original sin. If the cave-man had known how to laugh, History would have been different.” (The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde)

“Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid, and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them! They seemed to be able to give a plastic form to formless things, and to have a music of their own as sweet as that of viol or of lute. Mere words! Was there anything so real as words?” (The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde)

“When you get an idea into your head you find it in everything.” (Victor Hugo, Hunchback of Notre Dame)

“Do you know what friendship is?’ he asked.

‘Yes,’ replied the gypsy; ‘it is to be brother and sister; two souls which touch without mingling, two fingers on one hand.’

‘And love?’ pursued Gringoire.

‘Oh! love!’ said she, and her voice trembled, and her eye beamed. ‘That is to be two and to be but one. A man and a woman mingled into one angel. It is heaven.” (Victor Hugo, Hunchback of Notre Dame)

“In its printed form, thought is more imperishable than ever; it is volatile, irresistible, indestructible. It is mingled with the air.” (Victor Hugo, Hunchback of Notre Dame)

“How good and thoughtful he is; the world seems full of good men–even if there are monsters in it.” (Bram Stoker, Dracula)

“Oh! Stars and clouds and winds, ye are all about to mock me; if ye really pity me, crush sensation and memory; let me become as nought; but if not, depart, depart, and leave me in darkness.” (Mary Shelly, Frankenstein)

“Life… is like a grapefruit. Well, it’s sort of orangey-yellow and dimpled on the outside, wet and squidgy in the middle. It’s got pips inside, too. Oh, and some people have half a one for breakfast.” (Douglas Adams, So Long and Thanks For All the Fish)

“God’s Final Message to His Creation:

‘We apologize for the inconvenience.” ((Douglas Adams, So Long and Thanks For All the Fish)

“Time is the worst place, so to speak, to get lost in, as Arthur Dent could testify, having been lost in both time and space a good deal. At least being lost in space kept you busy.” (Douglas Adams, Life, the Universe, and Everything)

“Don’t Panic” (Douglas Adams, Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

““A learning experience is one of those things that says, ‘You know that thing you just did? Don’t do that.” (Douglas Adams, A Salmon of Doubt)

“Isn’t it odd how much fatter a book gets when you’ve read it several times?” Mo had said when, on Meggie’s last birthday, they were looking at all her dear old books again. “As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells…and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower…both strange and familiar.”

(Cornelia Funke, Inkspell)

“But courage, child: we are all between the paws of the true Aslan.”

(C.S Lewis, the last battle)

“It was darker than a pitch-black panther, covered in tar, eating black licorice at the very bottom of the deepest part of the Black Sea.” (Lemony Snicket, The Ersatz Elevator)

“My darling,” she said at last, are you sure you don’t mind being a mouse for the rest of your life?”

“I don’t mind at all” I said.

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like as long as somebody loves you.” (Roald Dahl, The Witches)

“Don’t gobblefunk around with words.” (Roald Dahl, the BFG)

“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” (Roald Dahl, the Twits)

“The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.” (Roald Dahl, Matilda)

“Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked.’I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.” (EB White, Charlotte’s Web)

“’If only, if only,’ the woodpecker sighs,

‘The bark on the tree was as soft as the skies.’

While the wolf waits below, hungry and lonely,

Crying to the moo-oo-oon,

‘If only, If only.’”(Louis Sachar, Holes)

“Autumn is the hardest season. The leaves are all falling, and they’re falling like

they’re falling in love with the ground.” (Andrea Gibson, Photograph)

“I said to the sun, ‘Tell me about the big bang.’ The sun said, ‘it hurts to become.” (Andrea Gibson, I Sing the Body Electric, Especially When My Power’s Out)

“A doctor once told me I feel too much. I said, so does god. that’s why you can see the grand canyon from the moon.” (Andrea Gibson, Jellyfish)

“You are so full of rain.” (Andrea Gibson, I Sing the Body Electric, Especially When My Power’s Out)

“I bet you smell like a butterfly, but I bet you dream cocoon.” (Andrea Gibson, Jellyfish)

“Mom, Dad,
I am not wasteful with my words anymore.
Even now after hundreds of hours of practicing away my stutter,
I still feel the claw of meaning in the bottom of my throat.
I have heard that even in space;
You can hear the scratching of a
I-I-I-I love you.”
(Phil Kaye, Repetition)