Bookish selfie…

A snapshot of my reading week in quotes…

….The Dean strides a little and pours himself another whisky. “Now, there is another thing, but I really shouldn’t be discussing it with the College servants.”
….“Alright then, Sir. I’ll be on my way.”
….“I intend to discuss it anyway. Sit down.”
….I obediently take a seat on the most humble looking pew I can find, an unsteady wicker affair placed near The Dean’s enormous fish tank. Quite why a man such as The Dean would keep tropical fish is a mystery. Whilst they are known for their calming properties, The Dean is a chap who is far happier being anything but calm. Maybe he shouts at them when there is no one else around.

* * * * * * * * *

Lenin the Dictator by Victor Sebestyen

….Lenin instantly understood the importance of the words Bolshevik [majority] and Menshevik [minority]. He never gave up the name for the group that followed him, or the psychological advantage it won. For long periods over the next few years the Mensheviks in fact far outnumbered the Bolsheviks, in Russia and among the revolutionaries in exile, and they were the majority in a series of future votes at various congresses and conferences. Yet they still accepted the name that Lenin had given them and they referred to themselves as Mensheviks. It was their ‘brand’ and Lenin knew how to exploit it. ‘A name he knew was a programme, a distilled essence, more powerful in its impact upon the untutored mind than dozens of articles in learned journals,’ one of his comrades said. It was foolish of the Mensheviks to allow themselves to keep that name permanently. It showed how tactically inept they were. Martov was a decent, erudite, highly clever man but a hopeless politician, no match for Lenin. If Lenin had been the minority he would have changed the name at once to something else – True Iskrists, Real Marxists, Orthodox Marxists, Revolutionary Wing of Social Democracy – anything but ‘the Minority’.

* * * * * * * * *

….Julie had been wrong to get her hopes up. The Evil One had come back even more terrible than before. She didn’t know what he’d been up to while he was away but there was a row of badly done stitches over his ribs encrusted with blood. That couldn’t be healthy.
….Julie hoped it was some girl who fought back hard, did him some damage. If only she’d managed to kill him – but no woman could fight that brute and win. Perhaps someone’s boyfriend or father caught him in the act, ripped him off her, had a weapon.
….She was glad he was hurt, even if he’d taken it out on her this morning. Even if she had a busted lip and a bruised eye, and had to put her cheek against the floor, unable to move for what must have been two hours, it was worth it to savor his fresh wounds. She decided to imagine that whoever did that to him, did it for her. An act of revenge without even knowing it.

* * * * * * * * *

….The night was filled with soft, mysterious sounds. Close by in the corridor, water was dripping from a washstand, measuredly, with pauses. There was whispering somewhere behind a window. Somewhere, where the kitchen garden began, beds of cucumber were being watered, water was being poured from one bucket into another, with a clink of the chain drawing it from the well.
….It smelled of all the flowers in the world at once, as if the earth had lain unconscious during the day and was now coming to consciousness through all these scents. And from the countess’s centuries-old garden, so littered with windfallen twigs and branches that it had become impassable, there drifted, as tall as the trees, enormous as the wall of a big house, the dusty, thickety fragrance of an old linden coming into bloom.
….Shouts came from the street beyond the fence to the right. A soldier on leave was acting up there, doors slammed, snippets of some song beat their wings.

* * * * * * * * *

From the archives…

….I have never understood how any woman can want positive discrimination. In the 1970s the attitude was robust: give us equal opportunities and we will show that we are as good as the men. In the 1990s that became: we can’t manage without special measures to smooth our paths and we want advantages over the men in order to compete…The culture of whingeing grievance is silly and sad. It lets down women and is hardly worthy of the heirs to the suffragettes.

(Click for full review)

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So…are you tempted?

28 thoughts on “Bookish selfie…

  1. She’s a hard woman, that Widdecombe, isn’t she? I’ve heard that so many times: I’ve made it, so anyone else can make it, so I don’t see the point of changing any of the rules…

    • Hahaha! I picked the wrong quote! See, *whispers* actually I agree with her on this one, though on almost nothing else – but all my commenters disagree! Oops! Note to self: no more political quotes… 😉

  2. Actually just did a little gasp to see my humble tome featured in your Bookish Selfie… now I feel I have truly made it!! And I see just above Lenin, this is indeed an honour. The Follower is shaping up to be delightfully creepy, even this little bit here gives me chills. A delight to see the mighty Ann Widdecombe! Whatever one thinks of her politics, she is a quite remarkable woman. I like her 🙂

    • I’d never put you beneath Lenin – he’s just the type who’d do a pigeon impersonation! The Follower…hmm! It wasn’t as good as her first one. Haha! I love Ann Widdecombe even if I disagree with 99% of what she says (though I agree with her here). But my choice of quote has riled some of my commenters, I fear… 😉

      • Thank you for your consideration regarding Lenin, I’ve just washed my hair and a pigeon impersonation would be most unwelcome 🙂
        I see that the quote has raised hackles! I have to agree with her, though. And she certainly can’t be accused of using her feminine wiles to get where she is today, her achievements (and I have to say I can’t agree with her on much either, but there you go) are all down to her own hard work and gumption and for that I have to admire her.

        • Yes, I’ve never seen the point of positive discrimination whether for gender or anything else. A level playing field, equal opportunties, that should be enough, so long as they really are equal. And even with all the help that our sisters get these days, it’s still the ones that are as tough as old boots that make it to the top… just like the men!

  3. Widdecombe’s autobiography does sound interesting, FictionFan. Still, I think Marina Sofia is right. Tough as nails… And I must try Lucy Porter’s book! It sounds terrific, too. I really do like this ‘bookish selfie’ idea. May have to try it sometime, myself.

    • She is indeed as tough as nails, but she’s also a lot of fun even if I’m diametrically opposed to her politically. Her autobiography was one of the better political ones – she’s had an interesting life outside politics as well as in. Lucy’s book is hugely enjoyable – I’m enjoying it loads! Oh yes – I’d love to see a snapshot of what you’ve been reading! 😀

  4. The follower was an interesting read, a bit dark but I liked it. Curious about the author’s first book since it has so many good mentions.Very interesting reads you have. Happy reading.

    • On the whole I preferred her first book, though it was even darker! This one went a bit far over the credibility line at the end for me. Still, she has a lot of talent so I’ll be interested to see how she develops. Thank you – you too! 😀

  5. Well I found the style of the one which turned out to be Pasternak alluring. it made me slow down, savour and let the picture unfold. The Lenin looks very interesting. And, probably, hard work too. I shall be keen to read the review.

    PAH! to Widdecombe, but it can be good fun to read a book which has the reader repeatedly shouting at it and throwing it across the room, only to pick it up in order to shout and throw some more

    AREN’T you happy for La Decima…well, for the man that made it? If only he would return to those earlier, thigh hugging wedgie shorts. And the ripped tank tops which expose the full glory of a manly pair of arms………….

    • I must admit some of the descriptive stuff is lovely, but the book itself is leaving me pretty cold. Partly my usual Russian thing, but also it seems poorly structured – jumps about all over the place with no real flow. And don’t get me started on the overuse of coincidence!!! The Lenin bio is very good and much lighter, in fact, than many of these things are. After Trotsky and Figes it feels like having a little holiday! And yet, the history is solid.

      Hahaha! I’m deeply concerned! I put that quote in because it’s about the only thing I agree with her on, and now all my commenters will hate me! Must avoid politics… 😉 Her bio was also quite fun – she’s so politically incorrect it makes for a much more interesting read than the ones who’re watching every word…

      Ah, I cried a little tear or two! So great to see him back on top form! He was actually wearing sleeveless tops in training and got my hopes up, only to have them dashed – maybe we should start a petition…

    • Well, I cannot tell a lie – I’m struggling with Zhivago. But then I always struggle with the Russians so perhaps it’s me rather than the book. I’ll try not to put you off too much when I review it (assuming I ever manage to finish it!).

  6. Ahhhhh the political autobiography. When I worked for a bookshop that dealt in remaindered books we had a hell of a lot of them – the Norman Lamont one comes to mind. Often they’re boring and self-justifying. The ones which are fantastic – ie filled with gossip, like the Alan Clark diaries, are often written by terrible people. I wanted to read the one by Ken Clarke because I thought that might be fun but was then put off by someone who said it was rather dull.

    • Oh dear, I have the Ken Clarke one on audio because I thought it might be quite fun to listen to him telling his tales… we’ll see! My top faves in terms of sheer entertainment value are Gyles Brandreth’s – a total hoot – and Peter Mandelson’s which is as close to a romp as political memoirs can get. But Ann Widdecombe’s is up there – she’s so opiniated and her voice really comes through – funny, even though it’s rare for me to agree with a word she says… 😀

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