Twice this week have I read a sentence or two in a book that has just stopped my heart. It took everything in me to resist not drawing on the page, or dog earring it to remind me it’s there. Full confession: I actually did dog ear it while I was on it, but it didn’t take when I turned the page. I could have fixed it but I felt like it was a sign from some god (probs Zeus… or Dr. Seuss) that I shouldn’t be doing it.
So today I thought I should write down some of those special little moments in books that made me stop. As I never mark this shit, it may take some time to research. Now obviously I can’t remember every time I felt this, so I choose a few random books (mostly favourites) that I know for sure I felt this comradery with.
“I can’t explain what I mean. And even if I could, I’m not sure I’d feel like it”
p. 122 Holden Caulfield (The Catcher in the Rye)
I didn’t put this in my ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ review because I was already ranting my face off about literature prejudice and other such tangents at a parallel to the actual review. Though I did do it in my Submarine review. I’m thinking I should make it a feature of my reviewing to point out the best line in the entire novel. Sounds like the beginnings of genius doesn’t it?
“I like good strong words that mean something.”
p.38, Josephine March (Little Women)
If Jo was alive (read: real) to read that I just called her Josephine, she would probably use said ‘strong words’ on me. This one actually did change my life. I noticed when I quoted it without meaning to. I defended all my vocabulary choices this way. I had it validated once when my persuasive writing lecturer spoke on strong, stoic words being wore effective. He used the example of ‘Help’ vs. ‘Assistance’. Let me tell you, if I’m hanging on the edge of a cliff – because I often do this, people are more likely to run if I say “help”, rather than shouting “I require assistance!” I urge you to try when next you find yourself cliff hanging.
“My parents tell me I have a fantastic view, but I don’t believe in scenery.”
p. 14 Oliver Tate (Submarine)
I could fangirl hard over this exact line for a while. I posted my thoughts on getting it tattooed to twitter and the Author, Joe Dunthorne replied. He said he couldn’t believe I didn’t get the tattoo. Still might Joe! Still might.
“I think you guys are going to have to come up with a lot of wonderful new lies, or people just aren’t going to want to keep living”.
p. 101, Eliot Rosewater (Slaughterhouse Five)
Crazy people are also the wisest, turns out. One language tick (sorry I’ve totally coined this phrase, you will get used to it) in Slaughterhouse Five is ‘So it goes’. Once on the bus I saw a girl with this tattooed on her wrist. I almost made friends with her. I actually use this phrase more than the one quoted above. There is this one moment in Slaughterhouse Five where the protagonist narrates: “The champagne was dead. So it goes.” It is my second favourite. When I was bartending I used this phrase more than “I’m not going to make it ‘strong’ unless you pay to make it ‘strong’”. Quite often then.
“We listened to them, but it was clear they’d received too much
therapy to know the truth”
p.97, the Greek chorus -clubhouse boys (The Virgin Suicides)
Just to hit off the same theme of, psychiatry and its collision with truth. I wonder if those authors ever received psychiatry.
“Lonely?” he said. “I don’t know. They tell me this is cold. I don’t know what cold is, because I don’t freeze. So I don’t know what lonely means either. Bears are made to be solitary.”
p. 223, Iorek Byrnison (Northern Lights) – (Golden Compass, for Americans)
I read this as a teenager and completely understood it. I was a total bear. Aside from the whole cold thing… A hairless bear. My parents even called my room, ‘The Cave’.
p.86 Robbie Turner (Atonement)
This was so out of place and shocking that I couldn’t help but be affected. I’d never even seen this particular word written down in literature before. I think it was the moment I realised I could swear like a truck driver and still claim my work as literature. It’s a little too R18+, even to me, so I’ll just made the rest of the quote visible by link.
Side note. I love Robbie, and by extension James McAvoy. AGH!
Okay I must stop writing. I feel I could go on about this forever! But I’ve already gone past my usual cap of 750 (anal I know). I best log some pictures in here to encourage you to read till the end – well obviously if you are reading this you made it this far. Congratulations!
If you have any lit lines that changed your life, please comment them – Stop my breath.
All images sourced from Tumblr