Bookish selfie…

A snapshot of my reading week in quotes…

….Day after day. Always on the move. My boot heels quite worn away. Wolfmouth only left me alone when I came home at night. Even then he followed me through the hallways, tap dancing up the stairs. He followed me, he follows me. Step scuff smack step, step scuff smack step. Echoing in the stairwell at the end of another long day.
….– The kooks, there are more of them all the time.
….– That’s right, Mrs. Waxman.
….Carrying my groceries past her door. The stink of her cats.
….I hole up, lock the door, fix the chain. Step scuff smack step, shuffling in the hallway. Then, at last, silence. I am not sure if he goes away.

* * * * * * * * *

….As for their commitment to ‘the people’, it was essentially abstract. They loved Man but were not so sure of individual men. M.V. Petrashevsky, the utopian theorist, summed it up when he proclaimed: ‘unable to find anything either in women or in men worthy of my adherence, I have turned to devote myself to the service of humanity’. In this idealized abstraction of ‘the people’ there was not a little of that snobbish contempt which aristocrats are inclined to nurture for the habits of the common man. How else can one explain the authoritarian attitudes of such revolutionaries as Bakunin, Speshnev, Tkachev, Plekhanov and Lenin, if not by their noble origins? It was as if they saw the people as agents of their abstract doctrines rather than as suffering individuals with their own complex need and ideals. Ironically, the interests of ‘the cause’ sometimes meant that the people’s conditions had to deteriorate even further, to bring about the final cataclysm. ‘The worse, the better,’ as Chernyshevsky often said (meaning the worse things became, the better it was for the revolution).

* * * * * * * * *

….Before I realised it, I was crying. People might think I’m homesick, I thought, a hick lugging a huge bag around, sitting there blubbering. Embarrassed, I wiped away the tears, glancing nervously around me, but not a single person was looking at me.
….Right then it struck me: Tokyo was a more wonderful place than I’d ever imagined.
….I didn’t come to Tokyo for the upscale shopping or all the great places to have fun at. What I wanted was to melt into the crowds of people who didn’t know about my past, and vanish.
….More precisely, because I’d witnessed a murder, and the person who committed it had not been caught, what I wanted more than anything was to disappear from his radar forever.

* * * * * * * * *

….For in those days I had a firm belief, as many other strong boys have, of being born for a seaman. And indeed I had been in a boat nearly twice; but the second time mother found it out, and came and drew me back again; and after that she cried so badly, that I was forced to give my word to her to go no more without telling her.
….But Betty Muxworthy spoke her mind quite in a different way about it, the while she was wringing my hosen, and clattering to the drying horse.
….“Zailor, ees fai! ay and zarve un right. Her can’t kape out o’ the watter here, whur a’ must goo vor to vaind un, zame as a gurt to-ad squalloping, and mux up till I be wore out, I be, wi’ the very saight of ‘s braiches. How wil un ever baide aboard zhip, wi’ the watter zinging out under un, and comin’ up splash when the wind blow. Latt un goo, missus, latt un goo, zay I for wan, and old Davy wash his clouts for un.”

* * * * * * * * *

From The Valley of Fear:

….“You have heard me speak of Professor Moriarty?”
….“The famous scientific criminal, as famous among crooks as…”
….“My blushes, Watson!” Holmes murmured in a deprecating voice.
….“I was about to say, as he is unknown to the public.”
….“A touch! A distinct touch!” cried Holmes. “You are developing a certain unexpected vein of pawky humour, Watson, against which I must learn to guard myself. But in calling Moriarty a criminal you are uttering libel in the eyes of the law – and there lie the glory and the wonder of it! The greatest schemer of all time, the organizer of every deviltry, the controlling brain of the underworld, a brain which might have made or marred the destiny of nations – that’s the man! But so aloof is he from general suspicion, so immune from criticism, so admirable in his management and self-effacement, that for those very words that you have uttered he could hale you to a court and emerge with your year’s pension as a solatium for his wounded character.”

* * * * * * * * *

So…are you tempted?

PS If anyone knows what “zame as a gurt to-ad squalloping” means, do tell!

50 thoughts on “Bookish selfie…

  1. Is to-ad “toad”? Same as a gurt(?) toad squalloping? Just looked up ‘gurt’ – one meaning is a gutter. I like these little dips into book worlds!

    • Could be! I came to the conclusion from it being used elsewhere that ‘gurt’ is ‘great’ and ‘zame’ is almost definitely ‘same’. I’m thinking of taking up squalloping as a new hobby… 😉

  2. White Tears still coming across as wonderfully bizarre and I continue to enjoy the snippets from the delightful revolutionary Russians! Lorna Doone went a bit James Joyce there for a moment – I suspect it is something to do with toads getting up to mischief. I imagine Stephen Fry to be just the chap to read Sherlock Holmes, although I have to confess that the man irritates me a little. But I won’t say anything bad about him, he was a student at the real Old College, you know!

    • I’m still swithering over a score for White Tears, but it’ll be high! It’s weird, but in a good way. The Russian book is fab! Unfortunately I think I’ll need wrist splints by the time I finish it though… 😉 Lorna Doone… hmm, well, suffice it to say I’m beginning to look back on Moby Dick with fond nostalgia…

      Stephen Fry’s narration is excellent, though secretly I think I still prefer David Jacobi’s Watson. But Fry does a spiffing Aberdonian accent in this one! And a nice nasal policeman who clearly needs his adenoids removed. 😀

  3. Oh, these do look good, FictionFan!! I’m especially interested in the Minato. And I must admit, that Fry caught my eye, too. I think you have some good reading ahead! I’ll be really interested in what you think when you’ve finished.

    • The Minato is excellent – actually, I think I preferred it even to Confessions, so definitely one for your list! The Fry narration is also great, though secretly I still prefer Derek Jacobi’s, I think…

  4. These look pretty interesting, though I have no clue what that phrase you mentioned means!! I think I might choose Penance first, based on the quotes you’ve included. Hiding in a crowd sounds like an interesting goal!

    • Penance is excellent – good choice! Haha! I must admit the dialect in Lorna Doone is a real pain – too hard to work it out! Fortunately, there’s not a lot of it.

      • That’s my problem, English is my 2nd language, I can’t understand most dialect parts. Not always (I had no trouble with Their Eyes Were Watching God, but most times I don’t get it, sigh.

        • Hah! English is my first (and only) language, but I still have problems with some dialects! Sometimes I find reading it out loud helps, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with the dialect in Lorna Doone…

    • I think you’d like Penance – have Margot and I never managed to force you to read her earlier book Confessions? We both chunter on about it regularly. White Tears is undoubtedly weird, but I liked it a lot in the end. But nobody beats my Watson…

  5. I’m new, already following, and I love the format of these posts, with snapshots of different books. Am I tempted? (I am TORN, ha ha ha, I want to read all your reads -hold on, I’m very exuberant, maybe not Lorna Doone. So many books!)
    The White Tears, I’m not sure. I need to see if the weird or different language merits the effort, or if it’s fluff. Penance sounds like a book I’d devour, so, maybe a summer treat (I’m up to my eyebrows now, impossible to make a detour, even if it sounds as tempting).
    And I love Sherlock and everything well done or written around him, but I’m not too tempted by that right now because I’m intensely focused on books I adore too. The passage was fun to read, though.

    • I’ve only started doing them recently, having seen similar things on a few other blogs, but I really enjoy doing it. It makes me pay more attention to the writing, I think, when I’m searching for interesting quotes. Haha! Not Lorna Doone! It’s becoming one of those books I can only take about ten pages of at a time. But Penance is excellent, and White Tears is a bit weird, I admit, but I liked it a lot in the end. Holmes is my special treat for when I can’t take any more Lorna… 😉

      Thanks for popping in. I’m glad we ‘met’ over on the Classics Club – looking forward to reading more of your posts 😀

    • I thoroughly enjoyed Penance – it’s a bit different from the usual run of crime novels. And the cover is great – and quite appropriate, I think. I’ll see if I can convince you when I review it… 😉

  6. I’m so impressed that you can read all of these simultaneously! I only ever read one book at a time.I’d probably get totally confused and think Carver Doone was a Bolshevik leader or something….

    • Ah it looks more impressive than it is – I finished some and started others during the week. I usually have three on the go – factual, fiction and crime. I do think Lorna Doone could be improved by a Bolshevik invasion though…

  7. I am always tempted by Sherlock Holmes and even more so if it is being read by the wonderful Stephen Fry. I have recently been listening to Harry potter and the Philosopher’s Stone narrated by him 😀

    • I’ve been meaning to listen to him do the Harry Potter books for years, but keep putting it off – one day! He’s doing a great job with The Valley of Fear, I must say, especially since Conan Doyle keeps saying things like “he spoke with a strange accent, half-English and half-Irish/American”… 😉

  8. Would you believe I’ve never read any Sherlock Holmes?? It’s a perplexing gap in my reading history, given my love of British mysteries. So if I were to choose one of your offerings, I’d go with that one. Maybe after I finish my Sense and Sensibility audio book I’ll pick a Doyle!

    • Ah, you must try Holmes! The stories are variable in quality of course, but most of them are great. I’m enjoying the Stephen Fry narration very much but (I feel a bit mean saying this!) I’d really recommend the Derek Jacobi narration of The Hound of the Baskervilles for you to try if you can get hold of it. It’s a fantastic narration, and the story is brilliant… 😀

    • Penance was excellent, and the Stephen Fry narration of the Holmes stories is great. I’ve read and re-read them all my life, so would always encourage a re-read, but I do know what you mean – sometimes it’s better to just keep a happy memory. However, I’ll maybe try to tempt you when I review The Valley of Fear… 🙂

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