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Posts tagged with "vintage books"

Nov 4

The Stranger by Albert Camus

The Stranger by Albert Camus

Page 27:

(emp)tied. By this time all the matinees must have begun. Only a few shopkeepers and cats remained about. Above the sycamores bordering the road the sky was cloudless, but the light was soft. The tobacconist on the other side of the street brought a chair out to the pavement in front of his door and sat astride, resting his arms on the back. The streetcars which a few minutes before had been crowded were now almost empty. In the little cafe, Chez Pierrot, beside the tobacconist’s, the waiter was sweeping up the sawdust in the empty restaurant. A typical Sunday afternoon….

I turned my chair round and seated myself like the tobacconist, as t was more comfortable that way. After smoking a couple of cigarettes I went back to the room, got a tablet of chocolate, and returned to the window to eat it. Soon after, the sky clouded over, and I thought a summer storm was coming. However, the clouds gradually lifted. All the same, they had left in the street a sort of threat of rain, which made it darker. I stayed watching the sky for quite a while.

At five there was a loud clanging of streetcars. They were coming from the stadium in our suburb where there had been a football march. Even the back platforms were crowded and people were standing on the steps. Then another streetcar…

Translated by Stuart Gilbert

Jun 1

The Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

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…formed her mother, bringing a happiness and energy Ruma had never witnessed. For the first time in her life Ruma felt forgiven for the many expectations she’d violated or shirked over the years. She came to look forward to their nightly conversations, reporting the events of her day, describing what new thing Akash had learned to do. Her mother had even begun to exercise, getting up at five in the morning, wearing an old Colgate sweatshirt of Ruma’s. She wanted to live to see her grandchildren married, she’d said. There were times Ruma felt closer to her mother in death than she had in life, an intimacy born simply of thinking of her so often, of missing her. But she knew that this was an illusion, a mirage, and that the distance between them was now infinite, unyielding.

After finishing with the dishes he dried them and then scrubbed and dried the inside of the sink, removing the food particles from the drainer. He put the leftovers away in the refrigerator, tied up the trash bag and put it into the large barrel he’d noticed in the driveway, made sure the doors were locked. He sat for a while at the kitchen table, fiddling with a saucepan whose handle—he’d noticed while washing it—was wobbly. He searched in the drawers for a screwdriver and, not finding one, accomplished the task with the tip of a steak knife. When he was finished he poked his head into Akash’s room and found both the boy and Ruma asleep. For several minutes he stood in the doorway. Something about his daughter’s appearance had changed; she now resembled his wife so strongly that he could not bear to look at her directly. That first glimpse of her earlier, standing on the lawn with Akash, had nearly taken his breath away. Her face was older now, as his wife’s had been, and the hair was beginning to turn gray at her temples in the same way, twisted with an elastic band into a loose knot. And…

Feb 4

Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis De Bernières

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Dying had much preoccupied him recently, for he had realised that his body was filing him. It was nothing specific, there was no catalogue of tell-tale symptoms, it was merely that he felt exhausted enough to die. He knew that kind of detached and passive grief overtakes those on the threshold of death, a resigned composure, and it was this detachment and composure which was rising up in him at the same time as circumstances were obliging him to summon up a strength, purpose, and nobility such as he had never required before. Sometimes he wanted to pass the reins of state to other hands, but he knew that fate had selected him as protagonist in the tragedy and that he had no choice but to grip the hilt of the sword and draw it. ‘There are so many things I should have done,’ he thought, and suddenly it was borne in upon him that life could have been sweet if only he had known thirty years ago what the results of the doctors’ analyses would be at this far-distant point of the future that had rolled slowly but maliciously towards him and become the inescapable, arduous, and insupportable present. ‘If I had lived my life in the consciousness of this death, everything would have been different.’

He cast his mind back over the impossible vicissitudes of his career, and wondered whether history would show him any charity. It had been a long journey from the Prussian Military Academy in Berlin; it seemed that it must have been in another life that he had learned to admire the teutonic sense of order, discipline, and seriousness, the very qualities that he had tried to instil in his native land. He had even commissioned the very first grammar of the demontic tongue and made it compulsory in schools, because of the theory that learning grammar promotes logicality and would therefore curb the wild, irresponsible individualism of the Greeks.

He recalled the fiasco of the Great War, when Venizelos had wanted to join the Allies and the King had wanted to remain neutral. How he had argued that Bulgaria would take the opportunity to invade if Greece were to join in; how nobly he had resigned his post as Chief-of-Staff, how nobly he had accepted exile. Better forget the attempted coup in 1923. And now it looked as though Bulgaria might invade indeed, grasping the opportunities granted this time by Italy in its attempts to fill the vacuum left by the Turks.

He remembered his defeat of the striking tobacco workers in…

The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes

I’ve finished this book today:

The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes

…fly before the Heiva like sheep before a wolf.’ The dancing, continued along the shore, and went on for the rest of the afternoon. ‘After which we repaird home, the Heiva undressd and we went intot he river and scrubbd one another till it was dark before the blacking would come off.’

After eight weeks it became clear that many other officers were not integrating so well into the Tahitian way of life. One of them committed an elementary error by foolishly violating a religious taboo: ‘Mr Monkhouse our surgeon met to day with an insult from an Indian, the first that had been met with by any of us. He was pulling a flower from a tree which grew on a burying ground and consequently was i suppose sacred, when an Indian came from behind him and struck him: he seiz’d hold of him and attempted to beat him, but was prevented by two more who coming up siezd hold of his hair and resuced their companion after which they all ran away.’

Even Captain Cook managed to create an unnecessary crisis when it was discovered that a metal fire-rake had been stolen from the fort. Determined to set an example, he impounded a score of native canoes. When the rake was swiftly returned, Cook then demanded that all other implements stolen from the camp in the last month should also be restored before he would return the canoes. It was quickly clear to Banks that Cook had here overplayed his hand with the Tahitians. The situation grew more complicated when it was learned that the canoes actually belonged to another group of islanders, who were bringing much-needed food to their relatives. They had no previous connection with the British, and were obviously not responsible for the any of the thefts.

The aggrieved Tahitians appealed directly to Banks, rather than to Cook, over this blatant injustice. ‘Great application was made to me in my return that some of these might be released.’ For the first time Banks appeared openly critical of Cook in his journal: ‘I confess had I taken a step so violent I would have seizd either the persons of the people who had stolen from us or their goods at least instead of those of people who are intirely unconcernd in the affair and have not probably interest enough with their superiors (to whoom all valuable things are carried) to procure the restoration demanded.’

For several days all trading ceased, and the fish in the sequestered canoes began to rot, filling the fort with an ominous smell. Then one of the duty officers compounded their difficulties by committing another…

The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner

The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner

"I bet your pappy whip you if you do." Versh said.

"I don’t care." Caddy said. "I’ll walk right in the parlor. I’ll walk right in the dining room and eat supper."

"Where you sit." Versh said.

"I’d sit in Damuddy’s chair." Caddy said. "She eats in bed."

"I’m hungry." Jason said. He passed us and ran on up the walk. He had his hands in his pockets and he fell down. Versh went and picked him up. 

"If you keep them hands out your pockets, you could stay on your feet." Versh said. "You cant never get them out in time to catch yourself, ft as you is."

Father was standing by the kitchen steps.

"Where’s Quentin." he said.

"He coming up the walk." Versh said. Quentin was coming slow. His shirt was a white blur.

"Oh." Father said. Light fell down the steps, on him.

"Caddy and Quentin threw water on each other." Jason said.

We waited.

"They did." Father said. Quentin came, and Father said, "You can eat supper in the kitchen tonight." He stopped and took me up, and the light came tumbling down the steps on me too, and I could look down at Caddy and Jason and Quentin and…

The Revolt of the Cockroach People by Oscar Zeta Acosta

The Revolt of the Cockroach People

"But you were jumping better than anyone else your sophomore year.. Was it booze, a broad, or what?"

"I told you. I didn’t know how. You can only go so far on your own, then you need someone to show you the rest."

"You guys had the best coach in the business."

He gives me a dirty look, as if angry for my even mentioning the subject. He downs his glass and spits out, “That sonofabitch. He spent all his time with the other guys.” And then a monologue, more therapy than information. His coach, George Mudd, had deliberately not taught him how to jump higher. Mudd never liked him, he said. From the beginning, he was on his own. When the year came around for the Olympics, the coach simply turned his back on him. 

"Because you’re Chicano?"

Manuel stares at me a long time before he answers. “I haven’t been able to come up with any other reason for the past ten years.”

We quietly eat re-fried beans. I ask him if he’s heard of the Chicano Militants. He laughs and tells me they are just a bunch of young punk communists who don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground. “They blame all their troubles on everybody but themselves.”

I laugh at the irony. I ask if he isn’t doing the same thing with his failure to qualify for the Olympics.

So he screams at me: “That’s different! I worked my ass off! I made it on my own. No one gave me a thing. You don’t see me going around crying, asking the government for a handout.”

We get into heavy arguments. He refuses to ackowledge that his sports scholarship to USC was a handout just like any other handout. I find myself defending a group I don’t even know. Before the day is over, Manuel is convinced that I am some sort of communist agent sent into LA to recruit members for the Party.

We eat more and continue to argue before we finally get into stories about the Riverbank. His family lived in a tent on our back yard for two years before they had enough to make it on their own. Manuel picked peaches and fought…