It was only there, in the village in India, on that first night, adrift on the raft of murmuring voices, and my eyes filled with stars; only then, when another man’s father reached out to comfort me, and placed a poor farmer’s rough and calloused hand on my shoulder; only there and then did I see and feel the torment of what I’d done, and what I’d become - the pain and the fear and the waste; the stupid, unforgivable waste of it all. My heart broke on its shame and sorrow. I suddenly knew how much crying there was in me, and how little love. I knew, at last, how lonely I was.
But I couldn’t respond. My culture had taught me all the wrong things well. So I lay completely still and gave no reaction at all. But the soul has no culture. The soul has no nations. The soul has no colour or accent or way of life. The soul is forever. The soul is one. And when the heart has its moment of truth and sorrow, the soul can’t be stilled. (p.124)
It was curious how often everything was back to front, the inverse of what they told you; Fats was starting to think that if you flipped every bit of received wisdom on its head you would have the truth. He wanted to journey through dark labyrinths and wrestle with the strangeness that lurked within; he wanted to crack open piety and expose hypocrisy; he wanted to break taboos and squeeze wisdom from their bloody hearts; he wanted to achieve a state of amoral grace, and be baptized backwards into ignorance and simplicity. (p.76)
Momentarily stricken, Ruth gazed out of her kitchen window over the crisp whiteness of her frost-crusted lawn, at the abbey across the valley, stark and skeletal against the pale pink and gray sky, and the panoramic view that was the glory of Hilltop House. Pagford, which by night was no more than a cluster of twinkling lights in a dark hollow far below, was emerging into chilly sunlight.
Reading back over this, I feel that in some respects I’ve done Bunny an injustice. People really did like him. No one had known him all that well but it was a strange feature of his personality that the less one actually knew him, the more one felt one did. Viewed from a distance, his character projected an impression of solidity and wholeness which was in fact as insubstantial as a hologram; up close he was all motes and light, you could pass your hand right through him. If you stepped back far enough, however, the illusion would click in again and there he would be, bigger than life, squinting at you from behind his little glasses and raking back a dank lock of hair with one hand.
The majority of our classmates, however, we’re thrown into an uproar by the information - accurate or not, I still don’t know - that the Drug Enforcement Agency had brought in agents and was conducting an undercover investigation. Theophile Gautier, writing about the effect of Vigny’s Chatterton on the youth of Paris, said that in the nineteenth-century night one could practically hear the crack of the solitary pistols; here, now, in Hampden, the night was alive with the flushing of toilets. Pillheads, cokeheads staggered around glassy-eyed, dazed at their sudden losses. Someone flushed so much pot down one of the toilets in the sculpture studio they had to get somebody in from the Water Department to dig up the septic tank. (p.339)
Henry, of course, had done marvelously. He didn’t say so, but then he didn’t have to. He, in some senses, was the author of this drama and he had waited in the wings a long while for this moment, when he could step onto the stage and assume the role he’d written for himself: cool, but friendly; hesitant; reticent with details; bright, but not as bright as he really was. (p. 331)
Certainly something had happened to me during the night. Or after months of tension I had arrived at the edge of some precipice and now I was falling, as in a dream, slowly, even as I continued to hold the thermometer in my hand, even as I stood with the soles of my slippers on the floor, even as I felt myself solidly contained by the expectant looks of my children. It was the fault of the torture that my husband had inflicted. But enough, I had to tear the pain from memory, I had to sandpaper away the scratches that were damaging my brain.
Note to self for book review - this is one depressing book. Vulgar. Yet somehow it’s beautifully written as well. Halfway through the book.
"I know where I stand now," he said, looking with friendly eyes from one of the police-detectives to the other. "I’m sorry I got up on my hind legs, but you birds coming in and trying to put the work on me made me nervous. Having Miles knocked off bothered me, and then you birds cracking foxy. That’s all right now, though, now that I know what you’re up to."
Sam Spade (P.21)