Sunday, June 29, 2014

La progenieLa progenie by Guillermo del Toro
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Eph torno’ ad avvicinarsi e stavolta passo’ il raggio luminoso sulla faccia di Redfern. La chiazza subcutanea formo’ una sorta di maschera. Come una seconda persona nascosta sotto il viso del pilota di aviolinee, invecchiata e deforme. Un volto sinistro, un male ben sveglio dentro l’uomo malato che dormiva. Eph spinse piu’ vicino la lampada… e di nuovo l’ombra interna s’increspo’, quasi in una smorfia, e cerco’ di ritrarsi. (145)

La notte non e’ un’assenza di luce; in realta’ e’ il giorno a essere un breve momento di sollievo dalle tenebri incombenti… (218)

Il Padrone continuo’ a fissare il vuoto, impassibile, diabolicamente regale, gli occhi simili a due morte lune in nubi di sangue. (324)

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Novels & Stories 1950-62: Player Piano/The Sirens of Titan/Mother Night/Stories (Library of America #226)Novels & Stories 1950-62: Player Piano/The Sirens of Titan/Mother Night/Stories by Kurt Vonnegut
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Sooner or later someone's going to catch the imagination of these people with some new magic. At the bottom of it will be a promise of regaining the feeling of participation, the feeling of being needed on earth - hell dignity. (88)

He has a complete security package, said Halyard.
His standard of living is constantly rising, and he and the country at large are protected from the old economic ups and down by the orderly, predictable consumer habits the payroll machine give him. (153)

Whatever there is to see. The line painters, the man running the hydrant, the people watching him, the little boy making boats, the old men in the saloon. Just keep looking around. There's plenty to see. (160)

"That's what you're here for, to get to know new people, to broaden your horizons," said the loudspeaker. (178)

"The sovereignty of the United States resides in the people, not in the machines, and it's the people's to take back, if they so wish. The machines," said Paul, "have exceeded the personal sovereignty willingly surrendered to them by the American people for good government. Machines and organization and pursuit of efficiency have robbed the American people of liberty and the pursuit of happiness." (282)


Everyone now knows how to find the meaning of life within himself.
But mankind wasn't always so lucky. Less than a century ago men and women did not have easy access to the puzzle boxes within them.
They could not name even one of the fifty-three portals to the soul. (313)

The only controls available to those on board were two push-buttons on the center post of the cabin - one labeled on and one labeled off. The on button simply started a flight from Mars. The off button was connected to nothing. It was installed at the insistence of Martial mental-health experts, who said that human beings were always happier with machinery they thought they could turn off. (426)

"O Lord Most High, Creator of the Cosmos, Spinner of Galaxies, Soul of Electromagnetic Waves, Inhaler and Exhaler of Inconceivable Volumes of Vacuum, Spitter of Fire and Rock, Trifler with Millennia - what could we do for Thee that Thou couldst not do for Thyself one octillion times better? Nothing. What could we do or say that could possibly interest Thee? Nothing. Oh, Mankind, rejoice in the apathy of our Creator, for it makes us free and truthful and dignified at last. No longer can a fool like Malachi Constant point to a ridiculous accident of good luck and say, 'Somebody up there likes me.' And no longer can a tyrant say, 'God wants this or that to happen, and anybody who doesn't help this or that to happen is against God.' O Lord Most High, what a glorious weapon is Thy Apathy, for we have unsheathed it, have thrust and slashed mightily with it, and the claptrap that has so often enslaved us or driven us into the madhouse lies slain!"

The sermon of the panorama was that even a man without a friend in the Universe could still find his home planet mysteriously, heartbreakingly beautiful. (490)

Salo was punctual - that is, he lived one moment at a time - and he liked to tell Rumfoord that he would rather see the wonderful colors at the far ends of the spectrum than either the past or the future. (495)

"In a very short time," said Rumfoord, "an explosion is going to blow the terminal of my spiral clear off the Sun, clear out of the Solar System."
"No!" cried Salo. "Skip! Skip!"
"No, no - no pity, please," said Rumfoord, stepping back, afraid of being touched. "It's a very good thing, really. I'll be seeing a lot of new things, a lot of new creatures." He tried to smile. "One gets tired, you know, being caught up in the monotonous clockwork of the Solar System."

"You finally fell in love, I see," said Salo.
"Only an Earthling year ago," said Constant. "It took us that long to realize that a purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved." (528)


In Goethe’s Faust, Mephistopheles says:

I am a part of the part that at first was all, part of the darkness that gave birth to light, that supercilious light which now disputes with Mother Night her ancient rank and space, and yet cannot succeed; no matter how it struggles, it sticks to matter and can’t get free. Light flows from substance, makes it beautiful; solids can check its path, so I hope it won’t be long till light and the world’s stuff are destroyed together.

Basically, the book is all about identity – how we forge our own personal identities, how we put on a false identity for others, and how those two (or more) identities can remain separate while either coexisting peacefully or clashing violently. (

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. (535)

“Howard- “ he said to me, “ future civilizations-better civilizations than this one-are going to judge all men by the extent to which they’ve been artists. You and I, if some future archaeologist finds our works miraculously preserved in some city dump, will be judged by the quality of our creations. Nothing else about us matter.”
“Um,” I said. (580)

“You hate America, don’t you?” she said.
“That would be as silly as loving it,” I said. “It’s impossible for me to get emotional about it, because real estate doesn’t interest me. It’s no doubt a great flaw in my personality, but I can’t think in terms of boundaries. Those imaginary lines are as unreal to me as elves and pixies. I can’t believe that they mark the end or the beginning of anything of real concern to a human soul. Virtues and vices, pleasures and pains cross boundaries at will.” (625)

“Most things in this world don’t work-” he said, “but aspirin do.” (636)

As a friend of the court that will try Eichmann, I offer my opinion that Eichmann cannot distinguish between right and wrong - that only right and wrong, but truth and falsehood, hope and despair, beauty and ugliness, kindness and cruelty, comedy and tragedy, are all processed by Eichmann’s mind indiscriminately, like birdshot through a bugle. (645)

An agent took me down on an elevator and out onto the sidewalk restoring me to the mainstream of life. I took perhaps fifty steps down the sidewalk, and then I stopped.
I froze.
It was not guilt that froze me. I had taught myself never to feel guilt.
It was not a ghastly sense of loss that froze me. I had taught myself to covet nothing.
It was not a loathing of death that froze me. I had taught myself to think of death as a friend.
It was not heartbroken rage against injustice that froze me. I had taught myself that a human being might as well look for diamond tiaras in the gutter as for reward and punishment that were fair.
It was not the thought that I was so unloved that froze me. I had taught myself to do without love.
It was not the thought that God was cruel that froze me. I had taught myself never to expect anything from Him.
What froze me was the fact that I had absolutely no reason to move in any direction. What had made me move through so many dead and pointless years was curiosity.
Now even that had flickered out. (685)


Dear Sir:
I have discovered a new force which costs nothing to use, and which is probably more important than atomic energy I should like to see it used most effectively in the cause of peace, and am, therefore, requesting your advice as to how this might best be done.
Yours truly,
A. Barnhouse.

EPICAC (****)

De mortuis nil nisi bonum. (733)


The mind is the only thing about human beings that's worth anything. Why does it have to be tied to a bag of skin, blood, hair, meat, bones, and tubes? No wonder people can't get anything done, stuck for life with a parasite that has to be stuffed with food and protected from weather and germs all the time. And the fool thing wears out anyway - no matter how much you stuff and protect it! (737)

At first, Madge's and my psyches were clumsy at getting along outside our bodies, like the first sea animals that got stranded on land millions of years ago, and who could just waddle and squirm and gasp in the mud. But we became better at it with time, because the psyche can naturally adapt so much faster than the body. (739)


"We'd hop in, and Pop's drive up to a filling station and say, 'Fillerup!'"
"That was the nuts, wasn't it - before they'd used up all the gasoline." (750)

"Hell!" said Gramps. "We said that a hundred years ago!" (753)


"If I tried to get away with it," said George, "then other people'd get away with it - and pretty soon we'd right back to the dark ages again, with everybody competing against everybody else. You wouldn't like that, would you?"
"I'd hate it," said Hazel.
"There you are," said George. "The minute people start cheating on laws, what do you think happens to society?" (765)

2BR02B (****)

"A drupelet, Mr. Wehling, is one of little knobs, one of the little pulpy grains, of a blackberry," said Dr. Hitz. "Without population control, human beings would now be packed on the surface of this old planet like drupelets on a blackberry! Think of it!" (775)


8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages. (793)

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Big bang - Origine e destino dell'universoBig bang - Origine e destino dell'universo by Xuan Thuan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

L'universo e' retto da quattro forze fondamentali. La forza gravitazionale trattiene i pianeti intorno al Sole e le stelle nelle galassie. La forza elettromagnetica consente alle molecole di combinarsi nelle lunghe catene del DNA. Vengono poi le due forze nucleari che controllano il mondo degli atomi: la forza nucleare debole, che provoca la disintegrazione della materia; la forza nucleare forte, che lega insieme protoni e neutroni per formare i nuclei atomici. (73)

I quark sono le particelle elementari della materia. Il nome, di significato oscuro, fu preso nel 1963 dal fisico americano Gell-Mann dalla frase”tre quark per il signor Mark”, nel romanzo Finnegan’s Wake di James Joyce. Tre e’ infatti il numero dei “quark” necessari per formare i protoni (due quark rossi e un quark arancione) e i neutroni (due quark arancioni e un quark rosso). (74)

Il destino di una stella dipende dalla sua capacita’ di resistere al moto di compressione della gravita’, che fa collassare tutto. Quando la stella dispone ancora di combustibile, la forza delle radiazioni prodotte dalle reazioni nucleari che avvengono nel suo nucleo riescono a tener testa alla gravita’. Ma, quando il combustibile si esaurisce, la gravita’ prende il sopravvento e la stella collassa. In una stella di massa inferiore a quella di 1,4 soli, gli elettroni rifiutano di farsi comprimere oltre un certo limite e la stella non raggiunge un raggio inferiore ai 6000 km. Sono proprio questi elettroni a “irrigidire” la nana bianca. Le stelle di massa tra gli 1,4 e i 5 soli collassano piu’ rapidamente, cogliendo, per cosi’ dire, gli elettroni di sorpresa. Adesso, a organizzare la resistenza sono i neutroni: anch’essi rifiutano di farsi comprimere troppo; ma in questo caso la contrazione della stella si arresta ad un raggio di 10 km. Se la stella ha una massa maggiore di 5 soli, ne’ gli elettroni ne’ i neutroni sono in grado di resistere alla gravita’: nasce cosi’ un buco nero. (99)

I nuclei degli atomi dell’oro … sono nati piu’ di 4,6 miliardi di anni fa, dalla morte esplosiva di una stella di grande massa, in un titanico braciere nucleare. Invece, gli atomi del ferro … si sono costituiti quando la stella era ancora viva nel suo nucleo, surriscaldato a una temperatura di miliardi di gradi. Proiettati nello spazio interstellare quando la stella e’ andata incontro a morte violenta, sono poi finiti nella crosta terrestre. (101)

La nascita della vita sul pianeta azzurro, a partire da atomi inorganici fabbricati nei nuclei stellari, rimane un mistero. Si sa che l’acqua ha svolto un ruolo essenziale. Probabilmente la vita ha trovato origine nell’atmosfera primitiva della Terra. Nel 1953 i chimici statunitensi Stanley Miller e Harold Urey hanno compiuto un esperimento rimasto celebre, riproducendo in provetta la primitiva atmosfera terrestre: un miscuglio di ammoniaca, di metano, di idrogeno e di vapore acqueo, sottoposto a scariche elettriche per simulare gli uragani che imperversavano sulla Terra 4,6 miliardi di anni fa. Dopo una settimana sono comparse alcune molecole base della vita, gli amminoacidi. Miller e Urey erano sulla buona strada, ma dagli amminoacidi alla doppia elica del DNA … e ancor piu’ all’emergere della coscienza di se’, il passo e’ davvero lungo. (118)

Il calendario cosmico
Nell’ambito dell’evoluzione del cosmo, la storia umana rappresenta un batter d’occhio. Immaginiamo di comprimere in un anno solo i quindici miliardi di anni trascorsi dal Big Bang: il Big Bang avverrebbe il 1 gennaio, la Via Lattea si formerebbe il 1 aprile e il sistema solare il 9 settembre. L’evoluzione darwiniana delle specie si svolgerebbe nella seconda quindicina di dicembre secondo la seguente scaletta.
19: primi pesci e vertebrati.
20: prime piante.
21: primi insetti.
23: primi rettili.
24: primi dinosauri.
26: primi mammiferi.
27: primi uccelli.
28: fine dei dinosauri.
Tutta la storia umana occupperebbe l’ultima ora e mezza del 31 dicembre.
22.30’: primi uomini.
23.59’: Stonehenge.
23.59’.50”: civilta’ egizia.
23.59’.55”: nascita di Buddha.
23.59’.56”: nascita di Gesu’ Cristo.
23.59’.59”: Rinascimento europeo.
24.00: teorie del Big Bang e della Relativita’; esplorazione dello spazio. (128)

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

La pauraLa paura by Gabriel Chevallier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Si puo' dare cosa piu' ridicola di questa: che un uomo abbia diritto di uccidermi perche' abita sull'altra riva del fiume e il suo sovrano e' in lite con il mio, benche' io non lo sia con lui? PASCAL (11)

Gli uomini sono stupidi ed ignoranti. Da qui la loro infelicita'.Invece di riflettere credono a tutto cio' che gli raccontano, a tutto cio' che gli insegnano. Scelgono capi e padroni senza giudicarli, con una funesta inclinazione per la schiavitu'. Gli uomini sono pecoroni. E questo rende possibili gli eserciti e le guerre. Muoiono vittime della loro stupida docilita'. (23) -Genealogia della morale, Nietzsche-

Una vampata che sembrava investire il mondo intero ci strappo' al torpore. Avevamo appena superato una cresta, e il fronte, davanti a noi, ruggiva con tutte le sue bocche infuocate, fiammeggiando come una fucina infernale i cui mostruosi crogioli trasformavano in una lava di sangue la carne deglu uomini. Ci veniva la pelle d'oca all'idea di essere solo una palata di carbone destinata ad alimentare quella fornace, al pensiero che dei soldati, laggiu', lottavano contro la tempesta di ferro, contro l'uragano di fuoco che faceva ardere il cielo e tremare le fondamenta della terra. (45)

Ho paura? La mia ragione ha paura. Ma io evito di consultarla. (94)

"Ma allora cosa ha fatto in guerra?"
"Quello che mi hanno ordinato, ne' piu' ne' meno. Temo che in quello che ho fatto non ci sia niente di particolarmente glorioso, e che nessuno degli sforzi cui sono stato costretto abbia recato danno al nemico. Temo anche di avere usurpato il posto che occupo in questo ospedale, e persino le vostre cure".
"Lei e' proprio irritante! Su, risponda. Le abbiamo chiesto che cosa ha fatto!"
"Ah, si... Be', ho marciato giorno e notte senza sapere dove stando andando. Ho preso parte alle esercitazioni, sfilato alle parate, scavato trincee, trasportato filo spinato e sacchi di sabbia, montato la guardia alla feritoia. Ho avuto fame senza avere da mangiare, sete senza avere da bere, sonno senza poter dormire, freddo senza potermi scaldare, e i pidocchi senza potermi grattare... Ecco che cosa ho fatto!".
"Tutto qui?". (126-7)

"E la liberta'?".
"La mia liberta' mi segue ovunque. E' nel mio pensiero. Per me Shakespeare e' una patria, e Goethe un'altra... (131)

"Ve la passate bene, lassu'?".
Allibito, guardo quel vecchio babbeo dalla faccia smorta. Ma subito gli rispondo affabilmente:
"Certo, signore... ".
Il suo viso si illumina. Sento che sta per esclamare: "Ah, i nostri intrepidi ragazzi!".
Allora aggiungo:
"... ci divertiamo un mondo: seppelliamo compagni ogni sera!".
Il suo sorriso fa marcia indietro, e il suo complimento gli si strozza in gola. (156)

A un bivio desolato ho scoperto un crocifisso di ferro, corroso da una ruggine simile a sangue rappreso. Sul basamento di pietra graffiato dai proiettili, una mano maldestra ha scritto: "Da smistare nelle retrovie". Non vedo niente di blasfemo in tali parole, niente che alluda alla natura divina del soggetto. Chi le ha incise ha voluto dire che quell'uomo in croce aveva gia' pagato il suo debito, e che al fronte non aveva piu' niente da fare. O forse intendeva suggerire che per avere diritto ad essere rimandati indietro bisogna aver sofferto, come lui, in tutte le membra, nel corpo e nel cuore. (171-2)

L'oscurita' deforma le cose, le ingrandisce, da' loro un aspetto inquietante e minaccioso: il minimo soffio d'aria le anima di vita umana. Gli oggetti hanno sagome di nemici; avverto dappertutto respiri trattenuti, pupille dilatate che mi osservano, dita contratte sui grilletti; mi aspetto da un momento all'altro di veder apparire l'accecante lingua di fuoco di un'arma. (191)

"Non e' una questione di tempo, ne' di attacchi riusciti. Il cambio non arriva se le unita' non hanno perso almeno il cinquanta per cento degli effettivi".
La notizia e'per noi un duro colpo. Meta' degli effettivi! Allora penso: qui siamo quattro e nessuno di noi ha piu' di venticinque anni. Due devono morire. Chi? Mio malgrado cerco sugli altri qualche segno del destino, uno di quegli indizi che contraddistinguono le persone marchiate da una tragica fatalita'. (223-4)

Il colmo dell'orrore, che rende lo scoramento ancora piu' grave, e' che la paura non toglie all'uomo la facolta' di giudicarsi. Egli vede se stesso sull'ultimo gradino dell'ignominia e non riesce a risollevarsi, a giustificarsi ai suoi stessi occhi. (237)

Ci nascondiamo, non vogliamo che ci trovino, e se chiameranno non risponderemo. Basta! Per oggi davvero basta. Non vogliamo piu’ uscire, ne’ attraversare l’altopiano sotto il tiro di sbarramento sperando che un altro miracolo ci salvi la vita. Ci copriamo il viso, facciamo finta di dormire. Ma ascoltiamo con tutte le nostre forze, in preda alla disperazione, in preda al terrore, come pazzi, cio’ che succede sopra le nostre teste: sembra la carica di un branco di elefanti che calpestano e stritolano tutto. Le granate regnano sovrane. Abbiamo paura, paura…
“Non finisce mai… E’ impossibile salvarsi!”.
Uno schianto a una delle uscite. Feriti che urlano, urlano… (252)

Con il passo lungo e agile del fante, Jean Dartemont va a farsi ammazzare su questo altopiano dell’Aisne, senza fare appello ne’ all’idea del dovere ne’ a Dio. (274)

In me non c’e’ odio, detesto solo i mediocri, gli sciocchi, che spesso sono proprio quelli che vengono promossi e diventano onnipotenti. Il mio unico patrimonio e’ la vita. Non ho bene piu’ prezioso da difendere. La mia unica patria e’ cio’ che riusciro’ a raggiungere o creare. Me ne frego di come i vivi si spartiranno il mondo quando saro’ sottoterra, delle loro frontiere, delle loro alleanze e delle loro contese. Chiedo solo di vivere in pace, lontano dalle caserme, dai campi di battaglia e dai geni militari di ogni sorta. Vivere in un posto qualsiasi, purche’ tranquillo, e diventare lentamente cio’ che sono destinato a essere… Il mio ideale non e’ uccidere. E se devo morire voglio che sia liberamente, per un’idea che mi stara’ a cuore, in un conflitto in cui avro’ la mia parte di responsabilita’...”.
“Si’, signor maggiore?”
“Vada subito all’undicesima a vedere dove sono piazzate le mitragliatrici”.
“Si’, signor maggiore!”. (292)

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Suite Française Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The women, more anxious, more alert, were already up, although some of them, after closing the windows and shutters, went back to bed. (location 103)

Paris had its sweetest smell, the smell of chestnut trees in bloom and of petrol with a few grains of dust that crack under your teeth like pepper. In the darkness the danger seemed to grow. You could smell the suffering in the air, in the silence. (location 536)

... everyone wrapped their arms tightly round their wife or child and nothing else mattered; the rest could go up in flames. (location 544)

They were living two different moments, you might say, half in the present and half deep in the past, as if what was happening could only seep into a small part, leaving all the deeper regions peacefully asleep. (location 549)

He would stay briefly in Lisbon and then get out of this hideous Europe, dripping with blood. He could picture it: a decomposing corpse, slashed with a thousand wounds. (location 634)

... they weren't made, my God, to die in battle, they weren't made for death. In all her life that woman had probably never said anything but ordinary things like 'The leeks are getting bigger' or 'Who's the dirty pig who got my floor all muddy?' (location 922)

The world was crumbling, was nothing more than rubble and ruins, yet they remained the same. Women were inferior creatures; they didn't know the meaning of heroism, glory, faith, the spirit of sacrifice. (location 1219)

He was thinking about the cathedral in Rouen, the chateaux of the Loire, the Louvre. A single one of those venerable stones was worth more than a thousand lives. (location 1801)

But she said nothing about what was worrying her most: her husband and two sons, gone, all three called up and missing... All three away in that vaguely defined, ever-changing, terrifyingly imminent place called 'the war'... (location 1922)

Today, any disagreement seemed unimportant. They were all on the same side, they were all together! They were living proof that nothing was changing. Contrary to belief, they weren't witnessing some extraordinary cataclysm, the end of the world, but rather a series of purely human events, limited in time and space, which, all in all, affected only the lives of people they didn't know. (location 2627)

And almost immediately, as if they were meeting again after the most peaceful, the most ordinary of summers, they began the kind of conversation Charlie called 'Fragile-Don't Touch'conversation: lively and light-hearted small-talk, ranging over any number of subject but dwelling on none in particular. (location 2916)

What was he doing writing these stupid stories, letting himself be pampered by the farmer's wife, while his friends were in prison, his despairing parents thought he was dead, when the future was so uncertain, the past so bleak? (location 3086)

The wind blew the smoke from the laundry boiler towards the barn. It was one of those dark, stormy days in the middle of August when you can smell the first breath of autumn in the air. (location 3182)

She reached for the warming stone, which a few hours had been burning hot but was now icy cold, took it out from under the sheets and set it gently down on the floor. As her hand touched the freezing tiles, she felt an even icier chill run straight her heart. She was sobbing violently. What could anyone say to ease her pain?(location 3249)

Sometimes a German soldier would push open the gate of one of these little gardens to ask for a match to light his pipe, or for a fresh egg, or a glass of beer. The gardener would give him what he wanted; then, leaning on his spade and lost in thought, watch him walk away before turning back to his work with a shrug of the shoulders that was no doubt a reaction to a world of thoughts, so numerous, so deep, so serious and strange that it was impossible to express them in words. (location 3952)

Suddenly, she envied these children who could enjoy themselves without worrying about the time, the war, misfortune. It seemed to her that among a race of slaves, they alone were free, 'truly free,' she thought to herself. Reluctantly, she walked back to the silent, morose house, whipped by the rain. (location 4377)

The spirit of the people is undoubtedly also ruled by laws that elude us, or by whims we know nothing about. How sad the world is, so beautiful yet so absurd... But what is certain is that in five, ten or twenty years, this problem unique to our time, according to him, will no longer exist, it will be replaced by others... Yet this music, the sound of this rain on the windows, the great mournful creaking of the cedar tree in the garden outside, this moment, so tender, so strange in the middle of war, this will never change, not this. This is for ever... (location 4480)

They fell silent. He closed the piano. 'After the war, Madame, I'll come back. All the conflict between France and Germany will be finished... forgotten... for at least fifteen years. One evening I'll ring the doorbell. You'll open it and you won't recognize me in my civilian clothes. Then I'll say: but it'e me... the German officer... do you remember? There's peace now, freedom, happiness. I'm taking you away from here. Come, let's go away together. I'll show you many different countries. I'll be a famous composer, of course, and you'll be as beautiful as you are at this very moment...' (location 4488)

Were they happy to see them go? Did they secretly wish they'd all get killed? Did anyone feel sorry for them? Would they miss them? Of course they wouldn't be missed as Germans, as conquerors (they weren't naive enough to think that), but would the French miss these Pauls, Siegfrieds, Oswalds who had lived under their roofs for three months, showed them pictures of their wives and mothers, shared more than one bottle of wine with them? But both the French and the Germans remained inscrutable; they were polite, careful of what they said - 'Well, that's the war... (location 5621)

'Will you come and say goodbye to me, Herr Lieutenant? I'm going out, but I'll be back at six o'clock.'
The three young men stood up and clicked their heels. In the past, she had found this display of courtesy by the soldiers of the Reich old-fashioned and rather affected. Now, she thought how much she would miss this light jingling of spurs, the kiss of the hand, the admiration these soldiers showed her almost in spite of themselves, soldiers who were without family, without female companionship (except for the lowest type of woman). There was in their respect for her a hint of tender melancholy: it was as if, thanks to her, they could recapture some remnant of their former lives where kindness, a good education, politeness towards women had far more value than getting drunk or taking an enemy position. There was gratitude and nostalgia in their attitude towards her; she could sense it and was touche by it. (location 5731)

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Saturday, June 7, 2014

During the Reign of the Queen of PersiaDuring the Reign of the Queen of Persia by Joan Chase
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When we lived there, on the farm which was right on the edge of the city limits, we thought it the very center of the world, and green and golden land and wooded hollows which began two blocks over from the railroad loop and then rolled off to obscurity formed a natural barrier to the rest of existence, which we dismissed as the outer darkness. (2)

Often she'd (Aunt Libby) warned us that moments of happiness hang like pearls on the finest silken thread, certain to be snapped, the pearls scattered away. (36)

Before we got into the house there was the smell of coffee coming onto the porch. Grandad's straw-and-manure-crusted boots were set beside the fir-board cupboards and the shelves that overflowed with so much junk nobody could find anything. (62)

'Gram's baking pies,' we sang as we raced up the stairs to change, with still a full day ahead, a day holding everything we could ever want. (62)

Peaceable, we waited on the porch in the dappling noontime. In the Mason jars stacked up dusty and fly-specked on the side shelves, in the broken-webbed snowshoes hung there, the heap of rusty hinged traps waiting this long time to be oiled and set to catch something in the night, was the visible imprint of the past we were rooted in. (70)

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