Edward St. Aubyn
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- Mrs Hickmann was inclined to forgive Patrick the apparent purposelessness of his life and the sinister pallor of his complexion, when she considered that he has an income of one hundred thousand pounds a year, and came from a family which, although it had done nothing since, had seen the Norman invasion from the winning side.
- Patrick imagined Kay’s father sunk in the back of the car, his eyes glazed over with exhaustion and his lungs, like torn fishing nets, trawling vainly for air.
- He liked slim books which he could slip into his overcoat pocket and leave there unread for months. What was the point of a book if you couldn’t carry it around with you as a theoretical defence against boredom?
- There could be no negotiation between people who thought that cocaine was a vaguely naughty and salacious drug and the intravenous addict who know that it was an opportunity to experience the arctic landscape of pure terror.
- Of course it was wrong to want to change people, but what else could you possibly want to do with them?
- The tragedy of old age, when a man’s too weak to hit his own child.
- In the eight years since his father’s death, Patrick’s youth had slipped away without being replaced by any signs of maturity, unless the tendency for sadness and exhaustion to eclipse hatred and insanity could be called ‘mature’.
- Quite recently, to his horror, he had realized he would have to get a job. He was therefore studying to become a barrister, in the hope that he would find some pleasure in keeping as many criminals as possible at large.
- His decision to study the law had got him as far as hiring Twelve Angry Men from a video shop.
- The claim that every man kills the thing he loves seemed to him a wild guess compared with the near certainty of a man turning into the thing he hates.
- What is a strain is being forced into the lobster pot of good behaviour while being forced to sing its praises.
- Above all, he wanted to stop being a child without using the cheap disguise of becoming a parent.
- Johnny stopped and leaned over, partly from curiosity, but also to disguise the fact that his sexual efforts could not compete with the mention of such a large sum of money.
- Looks didn’t last forever and she wasn’t ready for religion yet. Money was kind of a good compromise, staked up somewhere between cosmetics and eternity.
- Mind you, I don’t know why people get so fixated on happiness, which always eludes them, when there are so many other invigorating experiences available, like rage, jealousy, disgust, and so forth.
- ‘Look at her,’ said Patrick, ‘pacing around the cage of her Valentino dress, longing to be released into her natural habitat.’
- ‘Aren’t people funny? I don’t find where one sits at dinner fascinating at all,’ lied the Princess.
- No man is an island — although one’s known a surprising number who own one.
- All I can say is that the Great Barrier Reef is the most vulgar thing I’ve ever seen. It’s one’s worst nightmare, full of frightful loud colours, peacock blues, and impossible oranges all higgledy-piggledy while one’s mask floods.
- When a man of my father’s wealth dies of cancer, you know they haven’t found a cure.
- Men used to tell me how they used butter for sex, now they tell me how they’ve eliminated it from their diet.
- It must be hard to be exclusively social and entirely friendless at the same time.
- But do you know what struck me, apart from Nancy’s vibrant self-pity, which she had the nerve to pretend was grief?
- Never use a conditional tense when it comes to money.
- He marvelled again at the effect of projection: how hostile Henry had seemed to him when Patrick was hostile towards everyone; how considerate he seemed now that Patrick had no argument with him. What would it be like to stop projecting? Was it possible at all?
- Gothic script seemed to warp every letter that passed through the door of the funeral parlour, as if death were a German village.
- He had brought nothing to read except The Tibetan Book of the Dead, hoping to find its exotic iconography ridiculous enough to purge any fantasies he might still cling to about consciousness continuing after death.
- The idea that an afterlife had been invented to reassure people who couldn’t face the finality of death was no more plausible than the idea that the finality of death had been invented to reassure people who couldn’t face the nightmare of endless experience.
- As a guest, Emily Price had three main drawbacks: she was incapable of saying please, incapable of saying thank you and incapable of saying sorry, all the while creating a surge in the demand for these expressions.
- What did this long-range goodwill mean, and what did it say about the social contract that allowed a rich man to free all of his descendents from the need to work over the course of almost two centuries?
- No doubt his grandmother and his great-grandfather had hoped to empower a senator, enrich a great art collection or encourage a dazzling marriage, but in the end they had mainly subsidized idleness, drunkenness, treachery and divorce.
- Were the ironies of taxation any better: raising money for schools and hospitals and roads and bridges, and spending it on blowing up schools and hospitals and roads and bridges in self-defeating wars?
- Only in a country free from the funnelling of primogeniture and the levelling of égalité could the fifth generation of a family still be receiving parcels of wealth from a fortune that had essentially been made in the 1830s.
- More./What for? was a rhyme that deserved to be made more often.
- How nauseating, thought Nicholas, a Jew being sentimental on behalf of a Negro: you lucky fellows, you’ve got plenty o’ nuthin’, whereas we’re weighted down with all this international capital and these wretched Broadway musical hits.
- Thank goodness there were people who were happy with nothing, thought Julia, so that people like her (and everyone else she had ever met), could have more.
- It was virtually impossible to think of a sentence that made a positive use of that dreadful word ‘enough’, let alone one that started raving about ‘nothing’.
- They said it was the only way to stop her running up debts, but the best way to stop her running up debts was to give her more money.
- The tragedy was that five or perhaps ten years of decent five-day-a-week analysis could have mitigated the problem significantly.
- When she told people how nervous she was about any kind of public appearance, they said incredibly annoying things like, ‘Don’t forget to breathe.’ Now she knew why.
- The passage he was to read was from Revelations — or Obfuscations, as he preferred to call them. Reading it over on the train from Cambridge, he had felt a strange desire to build a time machine so that he could take the author a copy of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.
- She glimpsed the pink flowers of a magnolia protesting against the black-and-white half-timbered facade of a mock-Tudor side street.
- Unless in fact he had a very dim memory of her and the photograph had blown on the tiny little ember of his connection with his granny, like a faint orange glow in a heap of soft grey ash, and for a moment he really could remember when he had sat on his granny’s lap and smiled at her and patted her wrinkly old face — his mother said he smiled at her and she was really pleased.
- Death was kind of a boisterous egomaniac that needed no encouragement.
- And then he looked down at his fallen opponent, sprawled heavily on the carpet, and somehow the sight of his old neck, no longer festooned with an expensive black silk tie, but wrinkled and sagging and open at the throat, as if waiting for the final dagger thrust, filled him with pity and renewed his respect for the conservative powers of an ego that would rather kill its owner than allow him to change.
- Without speech, thoughts plough on like a train without tracks, buckling, crashing, ripping everything apart.
- As he laboured up to his bedsit, a miniature roof conversion with sloping walls on the fifth floor of a narrow Victorian building in Kensington, Patrick seemed to regress through evolutionary history, growing more stooped with each flight, until he was resting his knuckles on the carpet of the top landing, like an early hominid that has not yet learned to stand upright on the grasslands of Africa and only makes rare and nervous expeditions down from the safety of the trees.