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

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