Recently I read The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck. My wife loved it, I’ll give it a resounding “eh.” But Steinbeck did have a way with words, so while I didn’t love the book, I still really enjoyed his use of language. The quotes are of course better with the context of what is happening around them, but some are still nice even while isolated. And, I should add, the book is good, there is no doubt about that.
The banker’s voice became frosty. “I don’t understand.” His inflection said he did understand and found it stupid, and his tone twisted a bitterness in Ethan, and the bitterness spawned a lie.
It was the shocking discovery that makes a man wonder: If I’ve missed this, what else have I failed to see?
What a frightening thing is the human, a mass of gauges and dials and registers, and we can read only a few and those perhaps not accurately.
It has been my experience to put aside a decision for future pondering. Then one day, fencing a piece of time to face the problem, I have found it already completed, solved, and the verdict taken. This must happen to everyone, but I have no way of knowing that. It’s as though, in the dark and desolate caves of the mind, a faceless jury had met and decided.
This, dear reader, is a picture of a good day.
Recently I read A Fine Balance (a recommendation from the fiance and many a ‘going to India’ reading list). The book is very good! I would definitely recommend it. A few quotes from the book won’t mean as much out of context, but I think a number of them are pretty even by themselves.
A lifetime had to be crafted, just like anything else, she thought, it had to be moulded and beaten and burnished in order to get the most out of it.
Their first day with Dina Dilal was over. Borne along by the homeward-bound flock, exhausted from ten hours of sewing, they shared the sanctity of the hour with the crowd, this time of transition from weariness to hope. Soon it would be night; they would borrow Rajaram’s stove, cook something, eat. They would weave their plans and dream the future into favourable patterns, till it was time to take the train tomorrow morning.
“You see, you cannot draw lines and compartments, and refuse to budge beyond them. Sometimes you have to use your failures as stepping-stones to success. You have to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair.” He paused, considering what he had just said. “Yes,” he repeated. “In the end, it’s all a question of balance.”
“In those days,” continued Ishvar, “it seemed to me that that was all one could expect in life. A harsh road strewn with sharp stones and, if you were lucky, a little grain.”
“Later I discovered there were different types of roads. And a different way of walking on each.”
I don’t know what your politics are, but it’s a safe bet these days that you, dear random reader, are a little disenchanted with politicians. Sometimes my mom and I have conversations about people from my generation vs hers, and also people from my grandparents generation as well. After all, my grandparent’s generation, the “greatest generation,” are the standard bearers.
Reading Tour of Duty, which is a collection of war correspondent stories from John Dos Passos during World War II, led me to delight in this line. Because, after all, misery loves company.
You’re a citizen, brother, before you’re a naval officer,” drawled the destroyer skipper. He was from Georgia and spoke in a deep drowsy voice. “As a citizen it’s your bounden duty to take a proper interest in public affairs instead of sittin’ here an’ bellyachin’ about strikes an’ the bunch of stupids we’ve got in Congress. We’re gettin’ the government we deserve because none of us won’t do nothin’ about it.
There you have it, even the greatest generation had it’s problems. What am I going to do about it? Well, step one is to describe politicians I don’t like as a bunch of stupids. From there, well, we’ll see what happens.
Unrelated: This is the first book I’m reading by Dos Passos (or do you just say Passos?) and I like his style. The way he describes some things is very beautiful. And they are thoughts I would never have. He stands in line and takes in the clouds, the trees, the atmosphere of the room, the architecture of the buildings within sight, the clothing of the people around him … I would be trying to guess how much time I have left in the line.
Unrelated two: A ‘deep drowsy voice.’ What a beautiful way of saying ‘this slow-talking dude.’