Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter 

★★☆☆☆ (2/5)

• For a souvenir, for a warning, for a lick of night in the morning. For a little break in the mourningunnamed

• So, yes. I do eat baby rabbits, plunder nests, swallow filth, cheat death, mock the starving homeless, misdirect, misinform. Oi, stab it! A bloody load of time wasted. But I care, deeply. I find humans dull except in grief. There are very few in health, disaster, famine, atrocity, splendour or normality that interest me

• She was not busy dying, and there is no detritus of care, she was simply busy living, and then she was gone

• You remind me of everything I have ever been interested in

• Once upon a time there was a demon who fed on grief. The delicious aroma of raw shock and unexpected loss came wafting from the doors and windows of a widower’s sad home.

• I remember a story about a Japanese writer who fell on his own sword and it was so sharp it cut through blood and came out clean from his back.

• Ghosts do not haunt, they regress

• Once upon a time there were two boys who purposefully misremembered things about their father. It made them feel better if ever they forgot their mother

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Bonsai by Alejandro Zambra 

★★★★☆ (4/5)

  • and so she no longer turned older because she began to be dead.
  • The relationship between Emilia and Julio was riddled with truths, with intimate revelations that rapidly established a complicity that they wanted to understand as definitive
  • life only had purpose if you found someone who changed it
  • it’s one of those books that still seems pending after reading it, said Emilia. It’s one of those books that we will reread forever, said Julio.
  • Gazmuri: Then you don’t know what I’m talking about, you don’t know the drive. There’s a drive when you write on paper, a sound to the pencil. A strange equilibrium between elbow, hand, and pencil.
  • Being young is a disadvantage, not a virtue. You should know that. When I was young I felt at a disadvantage, and now as well. Being old is also a disadvantage. Because the old are weak and we not only need the flattery of the young, we need, deep down, their blood. An old man needs a lot of blood, whether he writes novels or not. And you have a lot of blood. Perhaps the only thing you’ve got to spare, now

Not One Day by Anne Garréta 

★★★★☆ (4/5)

A non-fiction veiled fictitiously. Anne Garréta’s stunning prose brings to life the mind of a writer, mired in an upheaval of a imagespersonal project where she intends to deliberate on past infatuations. We come across a myriad of unknown love interests, crushes, secret admirers and objects of affections; delve into the writers psyche of emotional attachments, value of arts and sentiments in life. The structure of prose is terse, given the writers Oulipian affiliations, which threads from one end to another often leaving massive blanks in the midst. These blanks are meant to be filled in by the reader, as suggested by the Afterword. In “Not One Day” Garréta manages to fuse fiction with truth so much so that the reader cannot decipher the two apart…and neither can the writer.

• What’s to be done with our inclinations? Why not write something different, differently than you usually do? Once more, but with a new twist, rid yourself of your self. Shed the accoutrements of this disentangling, keep at bay a little longer, if you can, who you think you are. Since you can no longer conceive of writing except in long and intricate constructions, isn’t it time to go against the grain

• All we seem to do nowadays is tell and retell the stories of our lives

• Writing at the whim of memory twists and turns on uncertainty. Like desire itself, never assured of its end or its object

• From day to day, you would have had nothing to report: nothing ever happens to you except in remembering. You only grasp the moment in distant memory, once oblivion has given things, beings, events, the density that they never have in the broad evanescence of daylight

• In this regard, desire and pain are alike—your accident taught you this. Only when they take you by surprise do they get out of hand

• Memory of a body: inscribed in a given space, anchored in light

• You witnessed, powerless, motionless, your own colonization by an inexplicable and obscene desire that your willpower was failing to keep in check, to contain, to purge

• the calm of the night, the weightlessness of the air, the layers of light vacillating all around; the complicity brought on by long silences, solitude, altitude, the distant horizon?

• But here’s the paradox: it’s in fleeing before the invasion of material life, multiplying the exiles, the trips when you rejoiced at the thought of casting everything off, that you find yourself once more multiplying the constraints. You buy—for you wouldn’t be able to resist the desire of a volume that promises flights of fancy or thought—books you can never resolve to leave behind

• We merely trade one blindness for another. For lack of the common blindness, we will let a singular lucidity blind us

• Here we go. We’re floating together in the warm bath of self revelations and secrets disclosed in the fiction of hidden faces

• he had seen shores empty of inhabitants looking at seas empty of ships, and whose hosts, to ward off the anxiety of these infinite spaces they are too few to populate, strive to cover up under sprawling suburbs, distraught metropolises, shopping malls rolled out over acres and acres, a blanket of concrete, parking lots, ramps, bypasses, asphalt. Lay the foundation to cement our disappearance, quickly, for its grip, imminent, threatens

• The friendship had probably, from the start, been built on a basis of subtle desire, of a potential desire that good sense, affinity, tenderness had managed to tame, divert, shape into something else.

• The order of what ensued is vague. There is no time in your memory, nothing but places and between them passages that open only to close again

• There is no one to resuscitate, and it’s because the memory is still alive that it resists autopsy and decimation over the course of a story.

• You should have suspected it at the first word written tonight. You should have, in rereading that correspondence a few months ago, understood it all. The dialect in which you wrote to each other is the dialect of all your loves: a chimera of French and English, strewn with bilingual wordplay, vertigos of language, trepidation over meaning

• You had forgotten that the point of this instruction was never to instill an affinity for the subject but to make it into a pure instrument of selection

• The mystery of her identity, the search for signs, the hermeneutic passion it inspired in you, made that semester of self-defense the most arousing erotic experience of your life. An eroticism that was all the more strange since it never managed to fasten itself or settle on any one body, but instead was bound to all of them, and because it was fluid, vacillating, drove you to pay to each of them an intense and infinite attention

• Friendship seems to you today the most difficult thing in the world. You attempt it, and almost always doubt its reality

• Our habits prompt our judgments more than our tastes do

• Ironic aporia of sovereignty: Mustn’t we get down on our knees to ascend to the throne?

• As for writing every day or even every night, that was rather optimistic… Did you really bank on so easily curing yourself of your cardinal vice—procrastination?

• Generating randomness exceeds the forces of the human mind: it takes machines. The animal exudes sense and determination like it pisses, like it speaks, like it breathe

• Hadn’t you taken care that these stories be abstract enough to prevent a positive identification of their subjects?

• But who’s to say that your critique of desire isn’t just another tool of its empire?

First Love, Last Rites by Ian McEwan

★★★★☆ (4/5)

A collection of disturbing albeit interesting stories. We traverse through the minds of a pedophile, a murderer, a child whose sense of identity has convoluted, a couple experiencing alienation, a disgruntled husband and many more. The stories are unsettling, but the beautifully vivid and emphatic prose keeps the reader’s curiosity elevated.

Solid Geometry

  • Your sentimental Buddhism, this junk-shop mysticism, joss-stick therapy, magazine astrology … none of it is yours, you’ve worked none of it out for yourself. You fell into it, you fell into a swamp of respectable intuitions. You haven’t the originality or passion to intuit anything yourself beyond your own unhappiness
  • I brought my hands together and there was nothing between them, but even when I opened them again and saw nothing I could not be sure the paper flower had completely gone. An impression remained, an after-image not on the retina but on the mind itself
  • ‘Dimensionality is a function of consciousness,’ I thought

Last Day of Summer

  • She carries out an old table, and when it’s out everyone realizes that it was always in the way.
  • Our hooting and cackling gets louder and louder because the still air doesn’t carry it across the water and the noise of it stays with us in the boat

Butterflies

  • My chin and my neck are the same thing, and it breeds distrust

First Love, Last Rites

  • It was new to me, all this, and I worried, I tried to talk to Sissel about it for reassurance. She had nothing to say, she did not make abstractions or discuss situations, she lived inside them
  • she never made general remarks about people because she never made general remarks. Sometimes when we heard Adrian on his way up the stairs she glanced across at me and seemed to betray herself by a slight pursing of her beautiful lips.
  • Then Sissel found a job and it made me see we were different from no one, they all had rooms, houses, jobs, careers, that’s what they all did, they had cleaner rooms, better jobs, we were anywhere’s striving couple

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami 

★★★★☆ (4/5)

A quirky little story, with dense symbolism (if one is looking for it). Narrates the tale of a curious young boy who is sucked into the “evil” world of adults, who keep on demanding more from him. His innocent eagerness to traverse the unknown lands hidden in books is soon coerced out of him as the adult world insists on cramming information from books as opposed to reading for pleasure and quenching personal thirst for knowledge.

  • She looked as if she were reading the right-hand page with her right eye, and the left-hand page with her left.

  • Indeed, inside the door was as dark as if a hole had been pierced in the cosmos.

  • “So that’s why he wants me to spend a month cramming information in there, to suck it up afterward?”

  • The sheep man has his world. I have mine. And you have yours, too. Am I right? “That you are.” So just because I don’t exist in the sheep man’s world, it doesn’t mean that I don’t exist at all.

  • The sheep man had disappeared without a word to me. Just as the morning dew