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Javier Marías   ::   All Souls

With my gloved hands and agile fingers that barely brushed the spines they ran over more quickly than my own eyes, like a pianist playing a glissando, I too always found what I was looking for, to the point where I often had the feeling that it was the books themselves that looked for and found me.
... the person closest to him for some years, with whom he maintained what used to be called (especially in French) a loving friendship, in which there was neither progress nor withdrawal, neither exclusivity nor constancy.
But then there's always got to be a first day for their disappearances.
Knowing that some time one will have to give up everything, whatever that everything is, that's what's unbearable, for everyone, it's all we've ever known, all we've ever been used to. I can understand someone who regrets dying simply because they won't be able to read their favourite author's next book, or see a new film starring an actress they admire, or drink another glass of beer, or do today's crossword, or continue to follow a particular television series, or because they won't know who won this year's FA Cup.
Everything that happens to us, everything that we say or hear, everything we see with our own eyes or we articulate with our tongue, everything that enters through our ears, everything we are witness to (and for which we are therefore partly responsible) must find a recipient outside ourselves and we choose that recipient according to what happens or what we are told or even according to what we ourselves say. Each thing must be told to someone - though not necessarily always to the same person - and each thing will undergo a selection process, the way someone out shopping one afternoon might scrutinise, set aside and assess presents for the season to come. Everything must be told at least once although, as Rylands had determined, with all the weight of literary authority behind him, it must be told when the time is right or, which comes to the same thing, at the right moment, and sometimes, if you fail to recognise that right moment or deliberately let is pass, there will never again be another. That moment presents itself sometimes (usually) in an immediate unequivocal and urgent manner, but equally often, as is the case with the greatest secrets, it presents itself only dimly and only after decades have passed. But no secret can or should be kept from everybody for ever; once in its life, once in the lifetime of that secret, it is obliged to find at least one recipient.
That's why some people reappear in our lives.

Javier Marías   ::   Tomorrow In The Battle Think On Me

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... there are four or five people in everybody's life who must be informed immediately of what is happening to us, we can't bare them to go on believing what is no longer true, not for a minute, for them to believe that we are married when we have just been widowed or that we still have parents when we have suddenly become orphans, that we have company when that company has just left, or are in good health when we have suddenly fallen ill. That they should think us alive when we are dead.
So much else goes on behind our backs, our capacity for knowledge is so limited, we cannot see what lies beyond a wall or anything happening at a distance, someone only has to whisper or move slightly away from us and we can no longer hear what he or she is saying, and our life might depend on it, all it takes is for us not to read a book and therefore not know about the principal danger, we cannot be in more than one place at once, and even then we often have no idea who might be watching us or thinking about us, who is about to dial our number, who is about to write to us, who is about to want us or seek us out, who is about to condemn us or murder us and thus put an end to our few evil days, who is going to hurl us over on the reverse side of time, on to its dark back...
I left the graveside and whiled the time away reading a kind of riddle on a nearby tomb, dated 1914: "None that speak of me know me," it said in its ten brief lines (albeit of prose not poetry), "and when they do speak, they slander me; those who know me keep silent and in their silence do not defend me; thus, all speak ill of me until they meet me, but when they meet me they find rest, and they bring me salvation, for I never rest." It took several readings before I realized that it wasn't the dead person speaking (Léon Suárez Alday, 1890-1914, according to the inscription, a young man) but death itself, a strange death bemoaning its bad reputation and the lack of recognition given it by the insolent living, a death resentful of the slanderous remarks and desirous of salvation: weary, rather amicable and, ultimately, resigned.
Perhaps it was that false ingenuousness so common amongst old people, which allows them to say or do whatever they like without anyone reproaching them or taking any notice, they pretend to be a member of the "soon-to-be-dead" so as to appear unthreatening, as if they had no desires, no expectations, when the truth is that no one ever ceases to be immersed in life as long as they have a consciousness and a few memories to ponder, more than that, it is a person's memories that make every living being dangerous and full of desires and expectations, it's impossible not to relocate your memories in the future, that is, not merely to note them down in the credit column, in the past, but also in the debit column, in what is still to come, there are certain things that one simply cannot believe will not reoccur, you can never discount the possibility that what once was will be again, if you were absolutely certain that you had made love for the very last time, you would put an end to your consciousness and to your memories, and commit suicide: perhaps, for example, immediately after making love for that last time. The living also believe that what has never happened can still happen, they believe in the most dramatic and most unlikely reversals of fortune, the sort of thing that happens in history and in stories, they believe that a traitor or beggar or murderer can become king and the head of the emperor fall beneath the blade, that a great beauty can love a monster or that the man who killed her beloved and brought about her ruin can succeed in seducing her, they believe that lost battles can be won, that the dead never really leave but watch over us or appear to us as ghosts who can influence events, that the youngest of three sisters could, one day, be the eldest: perhaps, for example.
... that is how times passes, constantly subjected to these ineffectual and contradictory struggles of ours, we allow ourselves to be impatient and to wish that the things we long for, but which are postponed or delayed, would happen at once, even though everything seems as nothing and to have happened too fast once it does happen and is over, repeating each beloved act brings us a little nearer to its end, and the worst thing is that not repeating it brings us closer too, everything is travelling slowly towards its own dissolution in the midst of our vain accelerations and our fictitious delays and only the last time is the last time.
... stories do not belong only to those who were present or to those who invent them, once a story has been told, it's anyone's, it becomes common currency, it gets twisted and distorted, no story is told the same way twice or in quite the same words, not even if the same person tells the story twice, not even if there is only ever one storyteller...
... it is harder to rid oneself of ghosts that have been in your own rooms.
... all thought is an sickness, which is why no one ever thinks too much, at least most people do their best not to.
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books i've read..
2013 [12 read]
2012 [36 read]
2011 [5 read]
2010 [6 read]
2009 [5 read]
2008 [21 read]
2007 [31 read]
2006 [37 read]
2005 [37 read]
2004 [32 read]
2003 [18 read]
2002 [52 read]
2001 [43 read]
2000 [7 read]
1999 [25 read]
1998 [3 read]
unknown year [65 read]

read over the years