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Thread: Excerpts

  1. #1
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    Excerpts

    A while ago, we had a thread on General Discussion that was dedicated to people’s favourite literary quotes…

    I thought it’d be fun to have a more casual, ongoing thread where people can share excerpts as and when they come across them. So if you read a bit of prose that you like – whether it’s one line or one page! – you can set it down here for others to peruse at their leisure.

    I’ve been giving J. B. Priestley a go recently (Festival At Farbridge). Good stuff. Funny! This bit is about the Mayor of Farbridge sitting contentedly in his “Mayor’s parlour”.

    The objective world, that smoothly treacherous scene, gave no sign that trouble might be on its way. All was well, it seemed. His Worship was a non-smoker as well as a teetotaller, otherwise he might have puffed away in great contentment; as it was, he gave himself a boiled sweet, and sucked it with noisy abandon.

    After a few minutes of this lotus-eating flavoured with peppermint, the Town Clerk arrived. Mr. Meare was a small man, neat as an expensive doll, with an over-sized head and a wistful expression, so that, with his rather dim colouring, he looked not unlike a watercolour sketch of J. M. Barrie. He spoke with a certain nervous precision, rather like a don, but as he was nearly always both timid and anxious he was apt to leave sentences and even phrases trembling unfinished in the air; so that listening to him was like hearing a precise little judge summing up a difficult case, but hearing it on a very faulty radio set.

  2. #2
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    Another good ‘un from Festival at Farbridge:

    The Question Master, Reginald Wendron, a short parsonical-looking man, gravely delighted with himself, had been a news announcer during the war, so that most people remembered his voice and felt vaguely that he had had a considerable hand in destroying the Luftwaffe, sinking the Bismarck, chasing Rommel out of Africa, just as they felt that Gary Cooper had accounted for scores of bad Indians and cattle rustlers. Now the good people of Farbridge, whom he had safely delivered to V-Day, regarded him with as much awe as he conjured up for himself.

    Also - had to include this one from same:

    “It’s a ticklish situation, Major Bulfoss,” said Alderman Tanhead. “Very ticklish.” This word could never have been pronounced with more gravity in all its history.

    Heh.

  3. #3
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    Great stuff, Vanillaphant. Thanks for posting it.
    Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits.
    Mark Twain.




    Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.
    Benjamin Franklin.

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    Cheers, Bugman! Hopefully some other people will contribute in due course. Would be pretty neat if we could get a decent collection going!

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    Mrs. Whatmore, who throughout this playful little exchange had been standing in the middle of the room looking like some savage ancient monument draped in beige dress goods, now appeared to explode. It would hardly have been surprising if she had filled the room with little planetary Mrs. Whatmores all furiously circling round the central sun of righteous indignation.

  6. #6
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    Been reading a book called War Stories recently. It’s actually a collection of excerpts whose theme is 20th century wars. So in a way, these are excerpts from excerpts! The first one is pretty grim. It’s from a novel by David Malouf called Fly Away Peter and it pertains to a First World War trench in France.

    The rats were fat because they fed on corpses, burrowing right into a man’s guts or tumbling about in dozens in the bellies of horses. They fed. Then they skittered over your face in the dark. The guns, Jim felt, he would get used to; and the sniper’s bullets that buried themselves regularly in the mud of the parapet walls. They meant you were opposed to other men, much like yourself, and suffering the same hardships. But the rats were another species. And for him they were familiars of death, creatures of the underworld, as birds were of life and the air. To come to terms with the rats, and his deep disgust for them, he would have to turn his whole world upside down.


    This one is more satirical. It’s taken from Christopher John Farley’s My Favourite War, a novel about a young journalist who goes to Kuwait to report on the Gulf War.

    What disturbed me most was that these reporters wanted war. They were impatient for the action to start. They were tired of this foreign minister meeting that foreign minister, of the UN issuing resolutions, of the pollsters taking polls showing support for the use of force. They had come too far and had been waiting too long. They were tired of the sun and the sand and the prospect of stumbling upon the six-inch scorpions said to be somewhere in that sand. They were tired of the restrictions on alcohol and drugs. They had seen war in movies, read about it in books, heard the bitching about war from their draft-dodging Vietnam-era fathers and uncles, and now they wanted their own war. Covering a war was the culmination of any reporter’s career and they wanted the culmination to begin. The diddling, the foreplay, the sloppy deep-throated kissing, the nipple-tweaking had all been going on for months. They were hot, sweaty, bothered, and they were ready to come, shouting ‘Hallelujah,’ and bucking their hips while simultaneously popping quarters into the vibrator bed. They wanted a wargasm and they wanted it now.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vanillaphant View Post
    Mrs. Whatmore, who throughout this playful little exchange had been standing in the middle of the room looking like some savage ancient monument draped in beige dress goods, now appeared to explode. It would hardly have been surprising if she had filled the room with little planetary Mrs. Whatmores all furiously circling round the central sun of righteous indignation.
    Wonderful. Wish I could write like that. Mrs. Whatmore sounds like a character out of a Dickens novel.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vanillaphant View Post
    Been reading a book called War Stories recently. It’s actually a collection of excerpts whose theme is 20th century wars. So in a way, these are excerpts from excerpts! The first one is pretty grim. It’s from a novel by David Malouf called Fly Away Peter and it pertains to a First World War trench in France.

    The rats were fat because they fed on corpses, burrowing right into a man’s guts or tumbling about in dozens in the bellies of horses. They fed. Then they skittered over your face in the dark. The guns, Jim felt, he would get used to; and the sniper’s bullets that buried themselves regularly in the mud of the parapet walls. They meant you were opposed to other men, much like yourself, and suffering the same hardships. But the rats were another species. And for him they were familiars of death, creatures of the underworld, as birds were of life and the air. To come to terms with the rats, and his deep disgust for them, he would have to turn his whole world upside down.


    This one is more satirical. It’s taken from Christopher John Farley’s My Favourite War, a novel about a young journalist who goes to Kuwait to report on the Gulf War.

    What disturbed me most was that these reporters wanted war. They were impatient for the action to start. They were tired of this foreign minister meeting that foreign minister, of the UN issuing resolutions, of the pollsters taking polls showing support for the use of force. They had come too far and had been waiting too long. They were tired of the sun and the sand and the prospect of stumbling upon the six-inch scorpions said to be somewhere in that sand. They were tired of the restrictions on alcohol and drugs. They had seen war in movies, read about it in books, heard the bitching about war from their draft-dodging Vietnam-era fathers and uncles, and now they wanted their own war. Covering a war was the culmination of any reporter’s career and they wanted the culmination to begin. The diddling, the foreplay, the sloppy deep-throated kissing, the nipple-tweaking had all been going on for months. They were hot, sweaty, bothered, and they were ready to come, shouting ‘Hallelujah,’ and bucking their hips while simultaneously popping quarters into the vibrator bed. They wanted a wargasm and they wanted it now.
    This is powerful, moving writing.
    Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits.
    Mark Twain.




    Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.
    Benjamin Franklin.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bugman View Post
    Wonderful. Wish I could write like that. Mrs. Whatmore sounds like a character out of a Dickens novel.
    Ha, yes. The book is packed full of quirky/eccentric - often evocatively named - characters!

  9. #9
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    This is from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres. A middle-aged Greek doctor is talking to his daughter who has fallen in love with an Italian soldier (this is during the Second World War).


    Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don’t blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being “in love”, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two. But sometimes the petals fall away and the roots have not entwined. Imagine giving up your home and your people, only to discover after six months, a year, three years, that the trees have had no roots and have fallen over. Imagine the desolation. Imagine the imprisonment.

  10. #10
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    Just tried reading The Last of the Mohicans. Didn’t get very far. Beginning to see why Mark Twain wrote an essay titled “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses”. lol

    I did enjoy this sentence, however. *smirk smirk smirk*


    One – and she was the most juvenile in her appearance, though both were young – permitted glimpses of her dazzling complexion, fair golden hair, and bright blue eyes to be caught, as she artlessly suffered the morning air to blow aside the green veil which descended low from her beaver.

  11. #11
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    From the first page of Bachelors Anonymous by P. G. Wodehouse:


    At the words ‘marry again’ Mr Llewellyn had shuddered strongly, like a blancmange in a high wind.

  12. #12
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    From The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts by Louis de Bernieres:


    In Europe he had pitied the thunder and lightning, for at home the thunder cracks as though from inside one’s head like the gun of a tank, and reverberates inside it until the plates of the skull seem to shiver apart at the seams. At home the lightning is brighter than the flame of magnesium, and freezes the world into tableaux like a randomly-set stroboscope; it fells huge trees before one’s very eyes, and splits apart to dance at the tips of mountains.

  13. #13
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    This is from Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander. The protagonist is lying in bed, ruminating on death, distracted occasionally by strange noises coming from the attic.


    Kugel had a theory. Kugel was certain that whatever last words a person chose to utter in his final moments, everyone shared the same final thought, and this was it: the bewildered, dumbfounded statement of his own disappointing cause of death.

    Shark?

    Train? Really? I get hit by a train?

    Malaria? Fuck off. Malaria?

    Regardless of what was spoken, this and only this was a human’s last thought, the last pure cognition that passed through a human being’s mind, every human being’s mind, before that mind ceased to function evermore. Not Shema yisroel adonai elohainu adonai echad. Not forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. Only the ludicrous, laughable cause of its own unfathomable demise.

    Cancer?

    Tuberculosis?

    Benito Mussolini’s last words, as he faced his executioner were these:

    Shoot me in the chest!

    His last thought, though, Kugel was certain, was this:

    Shot in the chest?

    There it was again – that sound.

    A scurrying of sorts. A sliding.

    Kugel sat up.

    It was something.

    There was something up there.

    No death, after all, does any life any justice. Our endings are always a letdown, an insult, a surprise, dumber than we thought and less than we’d hoped for.

    Crucifixion? thought Jesus. Get out.

    Hemlock? thought Socrates.

    Wrapped in a Torah scroll and burned alive? thought Rabbi Akiva. You have got to be shitting me.

  14. #14
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    Tall people appeared to have it easy; that was what Kugel found so galling. Like things just went their way. Let’s go buy a house! Let’s get expensive diving watches! Why not, we’re tall! What could go wrong? The woman wasn’t quite as tall as the man, but she was marrying into his tallness, hoping for a piece of that ever-perfect tall pie, and for that, Kugel hated her even more than he did the man.

    lol!

  15. #15
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    From Black Sabbath: Symptom of the Universe by Mick Wall:

    Ozzy shook his head: 'At that time in America, too, people were very fond of lacing your drinks with acid. I didn't care. I used to swallow handfuls of acid at a time. The end of it came when we got back to England. I took ten tabs of acid then went for a walk in a field. I ended up standing there talking to this horse for about an hour. In the end, the horse turned round and told me to fuck off. That was it for me...'

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