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Paradise (1986) is a novel by Donald Barthelme.
- “Anyone who sees Parsifal twice is a blithering idiot.”
“You mean the movie.”
“In any form. Land, sea, or in the air.”
“Well I won’t take you. You have my word.”
- p. 22
- “When I got married,” she says, “I married this guy who was a Catholic. So we had to get a priest to do the job. So I called this priest and explained the situation. I said I was not a Catholic. And the priest says, ‘Well, we can work with you on that.’ Then I told him I was still married to another guy, the guy I was married to before I met this guy. And the priest says, ‘Well, we can work with you on that.’ So I just thought I’d tell him that I was born without a vagina, that I just had this sort of marble insert where the vagina was supposed to be, to see if he would say, ‘Well, we can work with you on that.’ ”
- p. 40
- Something to be said for being fifty-three, you could enjoy the turning of the wheel. He feels every additional day a great boon. He doesn’t understand people who have futures, palpable futures. He takes an interest in the obituary pages of the newspapers, the summations, tidy packages, So-and-so gets three inches whereas Tra-la-la gets seven. He has a pain where his liver is presumed to be and is vomiting rather too much. He’s paid $35,107 in Federal taxes for the last year and has before him a request from the IRS for an additional $41.09. These people are wonderful, he thinks, they want the last forty-one bucks and nine cents. You’d think with the thirty-five thou they’d say let’s have a beer and forget about it.
- p. 42
- “What are you going to do after we leave?” she asks.
“Go back to work, I guess.”
“That what you want to do?”
“Work is God’s best invention. Keeps you all seized up and interested.”
“I wish I could do something.”
“You could always go to school.”
“I don’t like standing in lines.”
“I know what you mean. The Army used up most of my standing-in-line capacity.”
“But suppose you’re at a reception and you’re going to meet the President and there’s a long line of very well-dressed people—”
“I’m not in a hurry to meet the President. If he wants to come over and have a drink and a little guacamole dip, that’s fine. My door is always open.”
- p. 56
- The walls of the architecture labs at Penn had been covered with graffiti. “This is hell, nor are we out of it.” “Hell is other architects.” “The road to hell is paved with naugahyde.”
- p. 80; "This is hell, nor are we out of it."—Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus; "Hell is others."— Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit
- Dore is angry. She’s holding the box that the frozen pizza came in.
“You’re actually going to feed us this pizza?”
“What’s the matter with it?”
“This frozen pizza?”
“So it’s frozen.”
“Do you know what it’s got in it? Enriched flour.”
“What’s the matter with enriched flour?”
“The enriched flour has in it flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, and riboflavin.”
“All great stuff. I remember riboflavin from my childhood. They put it in Wheaties or something.”
“We’re just getting started. We’re just going into our windup here. We get water, hydrogenated soybean oil, yeast, salt, and something called dough conditioner. The dough conditioner’s got sodium stearoyl lactylate, calcium sulfate and sodium sulfite.”
“Soybeans are good. Invented by Martin Luther King.”
“Moving right along, we get cooked pork and mozzarella cheese substitute. The mozzarella cheese substitute contains water, casein, hydrogenated soybean oil—you notice the soybean is doing a lot of work here—salt, sodium aluminum phosphate, lactic acid, natural flavor whatever that is, modified cornstarch, sodium citrate, sorbic acid, sodium phosphate, artificial color, guar gum, magnesium oxide, ferric orthophosphate, zinc oxide, B-12, folic acid, B-6 hydrochloride, niacinamide, vitamin A palmitate, xanthan gum, thiamine mononitrate—I ask you.”
“Is this food or a chemistry set?”
“Doesn’t taste too bad.”
“I could make a nuclear weapon with less stuff than this pizza has in it.”
- pp. 91–92
- It’s an architectural problem, marriage. If we could live in separate houses, and visit each other when we feel particularly gay— It would be expensive, yes. But as it was she had to endure me in all my worst manifestations, early in the morning and late at night and in the nutsy obsessed noontimes. When I wake up from my nap you don’t get the laughing cavalier, you get a rank pigfooted belching blunderer. I knew this one guy who built a wall down the middle of his apartment. An impenetrable wall. He had a very big apartment. Concrete block, basically, with a fiberglass insulation on top of that and sheetrock on top of that.
- pp. 97–98
- Carol, when they were twenty-five and twenty-six, had been a smart-ass, an admirable smart-ass. “I love you but it’s only temporary,” she had said. She was fond of saying to people, “Here’s wishing you a happy and successful first marriage.”
- p. 109
- “I once heard [Buckminster] Fuller speak for seven straight hours. I only understood a tenth of what he was saying. By the end of the evening there were only five people left in the audience. He’d started with three hundred. I went home and began to make tetrahedrons with Play-Doh and toothpicks at two o’clock in the morning. ...”
- p. 117
- Q: When I was first married, when I was twenty, I didn’t know where the clitoris was. I didn’t know there was such a thing. Shouldn’t somebody have told me?
A: Perhaps your wife?
Q: Of course she was too shy. In those days people didn’t go around saying, This is the clitoris and this is what its proper function is and this is what you can do to help out. I finally found it. In a book.
- p. 129
- He lost nine pounds (a great blessing) during the eight months they lived in the apartment. They had not been slow to criticize his toes, teeth, belly, hair, or politics. “It seems to me,” Veronica had said one day, “that you have no social responsibility.” “My first social responsibilty,” he had said, “is that the building doesn’t collapse.” “Right right right,” she said, “but you are after all a creature of the power structure. You work for the power structure.” This was true enough, revolutionaries don’t build buildings, needed only closets to oil their Uzis in, no work for architects there. On the other hand Veronica and the others derived their own politics from a K-Mart of sources, Thomas Aquinas marching shoulder-to-shoulder with Simone de Beauvoir and the weatherbeaten troops of Sixty Minutes. They were often left and right during the same conversation, sometimes the same sentence.
- pp. 132–133