grammargirl: (To-read pile)
Some of you may remember that a few months ago, at the beginning of my last set of classes, I asked for recommendations regarding favorite children's books. This semester I'm taking what is basically the sequel to that class, taught by the same professor, which means that I have to do another annotated bibliography--only this time I have to read fifteen books instead of ten (3-5 by the same author), and they have to fall into the Young Adult category (think age 12-17, or grade 6-12). So: make with the recommendations, please.

Fly, my monkeys!
grammargirl: (Baby reads the classics)
This may be the best sentence I have ever read:

But surely to tell these tall tales and others like them would be to speed the myth, the wicked lie, that the past is always tense and the future, perfect.
--Zadie Smith, White Teeth

That comma just kills me.
grammargirl: (Default)
Somewhere in the locked away letters, Ash had referred to the plot or fate which seemed to hold or drive the dead lovers. Roland thought, partly with precise postmodernist pleasure, and partly with a real element of superstitious dread, that he and Maud were being driven by a plot or fate that seemed, at least possibly, to be not their plot or fate but those of others. And it is probable that there is an element of superstitious dread in any self-referring, self-reflexive, inturned postmodernist mirror-game or plot-coil that recognizes that it has got out of hand, that connections proliferate apparently at random, that is to say, with equal verisimilitude, apparently in response to some ferocious ordering principle, not controlled by conscious intention, which would, of course, being a good postmodernist intention, require the aleatory or the multivalent or the 'free', but structuring, but controlling, but driving, to some--to what?--end. Coherence and closure are deep human desires that are presently unfashionable. But they are always both frightening and enchantingly desirable. 'Falling in love', characteristically, combs the appearances of the world, and of the particular lover's history, out of a random tangle and into a coherent plot. Roland was troubled by the idea that the opposite might be true. Finding themselves in a plot, they might suppose it appropriate to behave as though it were that sort of plot. And that would be to compromise some kind of integrity they had set out with.
--A.S. Byatt, Possession
grammargirl: (Default)
It's so much easier to not do something than to do something. Even the smallest task, like filling out a Scholastic Books order form or putting away the butter, requires time, focus, and follow-through. It's astounding, actually, that anything gets done at all, by anyone.

But then, let's say you finally are prepared and determined to do that thing, whatever it is, but you wake up and find that your basement has flooded and you must spend your day making phone calls to the contractor, plumber, and carpet people. Or not that but something else--perhaps you must stand before a committee for approval, a committee that neither grasps your intent nor appreciates your ingenuity, and anyway, they are in a bit of a hurry to break for lunch.

Yet. Still. Somehow. I am encouraged to see that despite the colossal effort, despite the odds against one, despite the mere constraints of time and schedules and sore throats, houses do get built. pottery gets glazed, e-mails get sent, trees get planted, shoes get reheeled, manifestos get Xeroxed, films get shot, highways get repaved, cakes get frosted, stories get told.

--Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, Amy Krouse Rosenthal

I lie in bed, still trembling. You can wet the rim of a glass and run your fingers around the rim and it will make a sound. This is what I feel like: this sound of glass. I feel like the word shatter. I want to be with someone.

--The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
grammargirl: (Default)
Oh hey, so this is what a real memoir looks like:

I'm reading Duras and Bowles and Beckett--dark, absurd, strangely comforting. I've been working in the shelter for a couple years, I want to see how close to the edge I can come without falling. Two weeks later I find myself in an alley in a town called Mogador, buying opium from Mohammed and his friend. Just a little. The alley dead-ends at a wall. Mohammed unfolds a knife to shave off a gram (what kind of opium needs a knife to cut it?), then he turns this knife (goddammit, why is there always a knife?) toward me, touches my chest with the blade, asks softly if I'm sure I don't have any more money on me, just a little.

I've already been punched by police in Lisbon for taking a photograph of the wrong people. In a few days the police in Mogador will pick me up for speaking with a veiled woman. I'll have to spend a day in jail while they decide my fate, the hashish and the opium back in my hotel room, in the drawer with my passport. By the time I make my way to the border of Mauritania, to the edge of the Sahara, I see no end to being lost. You can spend your entire life simply falling in that direction. It isn't a station you reach but just the general state of going down. Once you make it back, if you make it back, you will stand in front of your long-lost friends but in some essential way they will no longer know you.

--Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, Nick Flynn


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April 2009

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