A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius (2000)
- And we will be ready, at the end of every day will be ready, will not say no to anything, will try to stay awake while everyone is sleeping, will not sleep, will make the shoes with the elves, will breathe deeply all the time, breathe in all the air full of glass and nails and blood, will breathe it and drink it, so rich, so when it comes we will not be angry, will be content, tired enough to go, gratefully, will shake hands with everyone, bye, bye, and then pack a bag, some snacks, and go to the volcano.
- First of all:
I am tired.
I am true of heart!
You are tired.
You are true of heart!
- Matter of fact, the first three or four chapters are all some of you might want to bother with. That gets you to page 123 or so, which is a nice length, a nice novella sort of length.
- ‘Listen John—’
‘Yeah, I changed your name.’
- I am sorry Chris is late this morning. I could make something up about an appointment or a sickness, but the fact is that we woke up late. Go figure
Brother of Toph.
- Ooh, look at me, I’m Dave, I’m writing a book! With all my thoughts in it. La la la!
- . . . I’ll raise my arms and give you my chest and throat and wait, and I’ve been so old for so long for you, for you, I want it fast and right through me— Oh do it, do it you motherfuckers do it you fuckers finally, finally, finally.
- We’re best at the long high throws. Like when you take four or five steps and rip it— It’s almost like a shotput approach, the steps, four or five quick, one over the other, kind of sideways-like—and then you slash away with that fucker, it’s such a violent act, throwing that white thing, you’re first cradling it to your breast and then you whip that fucker as hard as you can while keeping it level, keeping it straight, but otherwise with everything you can send with it you whip that fucker like it had blades on it and you wanted it to cut straight through the paperblue sky like a screen, rip through it and have it be blood and back space beyond.
- We cannot fathom why people would stand across the street, easily a hundred feet away, when they could be so close, near us.
‘Suckers.’ I tell Toph, thumbing toward those watching from so far away. It is important, I feel, that the boy knows what suckers look like.”
- Toph does not know the words, and I know few of the words, but you cannot fucking stop us from singing
You Shall Know Our Velocity! (2002)
- — Mr. Churchill you were given a mission.
— I want to have been given your mission. I want your place in world events, the centrality of it. You were born in the cradle of a catapult!
— You are wrong. I found my mission.
— I disagree.
— If you must.
— Tell me: where is my mission? Where are my bunkers and trenches, my goddamn Gallipoli?
- Hand took a breath and opened his palms, as if accepting the gift of rain. "YOU SHALL KNOW OUR VELOCITY!" he bellowed into the cold exhausted city.
- There are people who meet strangers and people, like me, who know only those they’ve known from birth
- I was feeling everything too much. Everything was pulling at my eyes.
- We’d have a motherfucking shitload of dogs! Horses. Peacocks. Oh to live among peacocks. I’d seen them once in person and they defied so many laws of color and gravity that they had to be made geniuses waiting to take over everything.
- I was a looker someone who looked over at every car at every traffic light, hoping something would happen, and almost never finding anyone looking back- always everyone looking forward, and every time I felt stupid. Why should people look over at you? Why would they care?
- But that in any city, in any cluster of people, there a few people who are awake at this hour, who are both awake and dancing, and it’s here that we need to be. That if we are living as we were this week, that we had to be awake with the people who are still dancing.
- We sleep when we fall. We only sleep when we can’t move anymore. That’s juvenile. But it means everything. It’s the illusion of progress. Staying awake isn’t progress. The illusion is enough.
- When we pass by another person without telling them we love them it’s cruel and wrong and we all know this.
- What did we want? We want the world smaller and bigger and just the same but advancing. We don’t know what we want.
- What are we allowed to do when we’re looking for things we’re required to do?
What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng (2006)
- Humans are divided between those who can still look through the eyes of youth and those who cannot. Though it causes me frequent pain, I find it very easy to place myself in the shoes of almost any boy, and can conjure my own youth with an ease that is troublesome.
- Ch. 10, p. 110
- I cannot count the times I have cursed our lack of urgency. If I ever love again, I will not wait to love as best as I can. We thought we were young and that there would be time to love well sometime in the future. This is a terrible way to think. It is no way to live, to wait to love.
- Ch. 21, pp. 317-318
- I speak to these people, and I speak to you because I cannot help it. It gives me strength, almost unbelievable strength, to know that you are there. I covet your eyes, your ears, the collapsible space between us. How blessed are we to have each other? I am alive and you are alive so we must fill the air with our words. I will fill today, tomorrow, every day until I am taken back to God. I will tell stories to people who will listen and to people who don’t want to listen, to people who seek me out and to those who run. All the while I will know that you are there. How can I pretend that you do not exist? It would be almost as impossible as you pretending that I do not exist.
- Ch. 26, pp. 474-475
- The pain is not great. But the symbolism is disagreeable.
- Ch. 5, pp. 50