Anne Tyler's re-imagining of Taming of the Shrew doesn't retain much of the original, except for Kate's bracing sourness. Kate's last speech is a bit forced, but overall it's a sweet little tale.
  • At the bottom she paused to punch in the code: 1957, the date Witebsky first defined the criteria for autoimmune disorders.
  • Men often wore that look when they first saw her. It was due to a bunch of dead cells: her hair, which was blue-black and billowy and extended below her waist.
  • but Kate paid them no attention until she overheard what the boy behind her whispered to someone standing next to him. “She has. No. Plan,” he whispered. Which was true, in fact. And she lost the game shortly thereafter.
  • “You said…” And here Mrs. Darling read aloud from the sheet of paper. “You said, ‘Chances are she’ll stop soon enough, once her fingers grow so long that she pokes both her eyes out.’ ” Kate laughed. She hadn’t realized she’d been so witty.
  • She asked, “Were they doing that frolicking thing that goats do when they’re happy?” “Yes, a few of them were just barely beginning to fly,” Chloe said, and it had been such a matter-of-fact description, so concrete and unsurprised, that Kate had experienced a jolt of pure pleasure.
  • (The unsatisfying thing about practicing restraint was that nobody knew you were practicing it.)
  • “You put it in a cup of milk and it has a chance of being re-implanted?” “Gosh, no, I didn’t,” Adam said. “I just wadded it up in a Kleenex in case they wanted it for the tooth fairy.
  • “You are very independent woman and you have the hair that avoids beauty parlors and you resemble dancer.” “Let’s not go overboard,” Kate said. “Resemble flamingo dancer,” he said. “Oh,” she said. “Flamenco.” Stomping the floorboards. Made sense.
  • He asked her, “Why Americans always begin inch by inch with what they say?” “Pardon?” “They must begin every sentence with ‘Oh…’
  • “Your mother thought we should have weekends. Vacations, even!
  • display her diamond ring. Or it could have been cubic zirconia; nobody was quite sure. The great-aunt had clerked in a dime store.
  • “But why you would want to catch flies, hah? Answer me that, vinegar girl.”
  • He had the foreigner’s tendency toward bald, obvious compliments, dropping them with a thud at her feet like a cat presenting her with a dead mouse.
  • “I just don’t like crowds,” Kate told her. “I don’t like mingling. I don’t like feeling guilty I’m not moving on and talking with somebody new.
  • but if the price for that is my only sister getting totally tamed and tamped down and changed into some whole nother person
  • The thought didn’t disturb her. She had used this room up, she felt. She had used this life up.
  • The only thing she learned about him was the touching meagerness of his life. The meagerness and the…rectitude, was the word that came to her mind.
  • In the living room, sectional couches lumbered through the vast space like a herd of rhinos,
  • It’s like men and women are in two different countries! I’m not ‘backing down,’ as you call it; I’m letting him into my country. I’m giving him space in a place where we can both be ourselves.
Simon Winchester covered a lot of depressing episodes: the US's cavalier testing of nuclear weapons on Pacific islands, coral bleaching, climate change. Things I was happier to learn:
  • Stefan Zweig being called a "little known" writer
  • Sony's start with a highly portable transistor radio
  • thermal vents
  • the Chinese rushing into the power vacuum after the departure of the American Navy and Air Force from the Philippines, which was triggered by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991
  • demise of the R.M.S. Queen Elizabeth in the Hong Kong harbor and 董建华's indebtedness to the Mainland government thereafter

Edmund Crispin "dumps his book bags" in a very delightful way and make Oxford alluring. The plot moves so fast that the reader barely has time to notice all the improbabilities.

  • ‘Oxford,’ Cadogan went on rhapsodically, ‘city of dream-spires, cuckoo-echoing, bell-swarmed (to the point of distraction), charmed with larks, racked with rooks, and rounded with rivers. Have you ever thought how much of Hopkins’s genius consisted of putting things in the wrong order?
  • he was not so far gone in wisdom and disillusion as to be wholly immune to the sweet lures of change and novelty.
  • He felt, too, something of that oddly dispassionate lifting of the heart which he knew meant poetry, but he was aware that such emotions are shy beasts, and for the moment he turned a blind eye to them for fear of frightening them away.
  • first real glimpse of Oxford – in that ineffectual moonlight an underwater city, its towers and spires standing ghostly, like the memorials of lost Atlantis, fathoms deep.
  • ‘She travelled – travels – a lot, then?’ he asked in the tautologous fashion of modern conversation.
  • 'You say the most innocent encounter in a detective novel is unfair, and yet you’re always screaming out about having met someone abroad who lives in the next parish, and what a small world it is.'
  • Cadogan. ‘If there’s anything I hate, it’s the sort of book in which characters don’t go to the police when they’ve no earthly reason for not doing so.’
  • ‘Comic verse of the highest order, moreover.’ Fen suddenly abandoned his instructive manner and became aggrieved. ‘There are actually people who imagine that Lear was incapable of making the last lines of his limericks different from the first;
  • it is also true that the improbable has less weight in the City of Oxford than in any other habitable quarter of the globe.
  • he had interpreted it rightly; he was confident that a beautiful, blue-eyed shop-girl with a small spotted dog could not long elude them in a town the size of Oxford.
  • They reached the opposite pavement much as Orestes, hounded by the Furies, must have staggered into Iphigenia’s grove in Tauris.
  • ‘We’re all for love in the Force, but fair’s fair, you know. One of you at a time, and no stampeding. You’d better go and get some lunch,’ he added kindly. Evidently he suspected that this would constitute some sort of anaphrodisiac.
  • Death-watch beetles / cachinnation  / ‘like a recruit-officer, my dear Anthony, too Farquhar
  • ‘Let’s play “Unreadable Books”,’ he suggested. ‘All right. Ulysses.’ ‘Yes. Rabelais.’ ‘Yes. Tristram Shandy.’ ‘Yes. The Golden Bowl.’ ‘Yes. Rasselas.’ ‘No, I like that.’
  • Sally had that high nervous energy and air of first-rate physical breeding which is rare in any stratum of society,
  • 'Annihilating all that’s made To a green thought in a green shade.'
  • something richly comic in the thought of these criminal lunatics lugging toys and groceries about at dead of night.
  • that play makes at one point a remark to the effect that the native hue of resolution is too often sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, and that moreover enterprises of great pitch and moment with this regard their currents turn awry and lose the name of action.
  • Down the Woodstock Road towards them an elderly, abnormally thin man was pedalling, his thin white hair streaming in the wind and sheer desperation in his eyes. Immediately behind him, running for their lives, came Scylla and Charybdis; behind them, a milling, shouting rout of undergraduates, with Mr Adrian Barnaby (on a bicycle) well in the van; behind them, the junior proctor, the University Marshal, and two bullers, packed into a small Austin car and looking very elect, severe, and ineffectual; and last of all, faint but pursuing, lumbered the ungainly form of Mr Hoskins. It was a sight Cadogan was never to forget as long as he lived.
  • A punt is the safest variety of boat for a struggle; virtually nothing will capsize it.
  • Euthanasia, Cadogan thought: they all regard it as that, and not as wilful slaughter, not as the violent cutting-off of an irreplaceable compact of passion and desire and affection and will; not as a thrust into unimagined and illimitable darkness.
  • ‘Dust hath closed Helen’s eye … ’ The vast and terrifying significance of death closed round him for a moment like the petals of a dark flower.
  • there’s no such thing as a poetic type. Chaucer was a Government official, Sidney a soldier, Villon a thief, Marvell an M.P., Burns a ploughboy, Housman a don. You can be any sort of man and still be a poet. You can be as conceited as Wordsworth or as modest as Hardy; as rich as Byron or as poor as Francis Thompson; as religious as Cowper or as pagan as Carew. It doesn’t matter what you believe; Shelley believed every lunatic idea under the sun. Keats was certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart’s affections.
  • ‘I think the only thing poets have in common is a kind of imaginative generosity of heart towards their fellows – and even then one can’t be too sure, with people like Baudelaire and Pope and unpleasant little neurotics like Swinburne... ‘poetry isn’t the outcome of personality. I mean by that that it exists independently
  • ‘A Red Herring and the Missing Link, and a wicked exploiter of divine-genius-as-represented-by-me.
  • ‘With varying vanities from every part, They shift the moving toyshop of their heart…
No knocks against William Gibson, but there were good reasons I didn't get too far into the book nearly 20 years ago. Unfortunately, its prescience is less stunning to the more future me, and its misses more glaring. (No cellphones!) The world building is fantastic, but people's motives seem way to murky, and the romantic entanglements (Case/Linda Lee and Case/Molly) feel forced.
  • His ugliness was the stuff of legend. In an age of affordable beauty, there was something heraldic about his lack of it.
  • proficiency, jacked into a custom cyberspace deck that projected his disembodied consciousness into the consensual hallucination that was the matrix.
  • the elite stance involved a certain relaxed contempt for the flesh. The body was meat. Case fell into the prison of his own flesh.
  • Tokyo Bay was a black expanse where gulls wheeled above drifting shoals of white styrofoam. / under the poisoned silver sky.
  • Night City was like a deranged experiment in social Darwinism, designed by a bored researcher who kept one thumb permanently on the fast-forward button. Stop hustling and you sank without a trace, but move a little too swiftly and you’d break the fragile surface tension of the black market;
  • She threw a leg across him and he touched her face. Unexpected hardness of the implanted lenses. “Don’t,” she said, “fingerprints.”
  • Back in the shadows, someone made wet sounds and died.
  • her breasts, the sweep of a flank defined with the functional elegance of a war plane’s fuselage.
  • Sprawl, the mall crowds swaying like windblown grass, a field of flesh shot through with sudden eddies of need and gratification.
  • Like something tells him to go off to Chiba, pick up a pillhead who’s making one last wobble through the burnout belt, and trade a program for the operation that’ll fix him up.
  • but simstim itself struck him as a gratuitous multiplication of flesh input.
  • It was the style that mattered and the style was the same. The Moderns were mercenaries, practical jokers, nihilistic technofetishists.
  • wore a polycarbon suit with a recording feature that allowed him to replay backgrounds at will. Perched on the edge of Case’s worktable like some kind of state of the art gargoyle,
  • Armitage crossed stiffly to the table and took three fat bundles of New Yen from the pockets of his trenchcoat. “You want to count it?” he asked Yonderboy.
  • A thin black child with wooden beads and antique resistors woven tightly into her hair opened the Finn’s door
  • changing subtly, cooking itself down under the pressure of time, silent invisible flakes settling to form a mulch, a crystalline essence of discarded technology, flowering secretly in the Sprawl’s waste places.
  • A small man, Japanese, enormously polite, who bore all the marks of a vatgrown ninja assassin.
  • at a very quiet, very eccentric first-generation high-orbit family, run like a corporation. Big money, very shy of media. Lot of cloning. Orbital law’s a lot softer on genetic engineering, right?
  • “It’s a horse, man. You ever see a horse?” Case glanced at the embalmed animal and shook his head.
  • We’re out where the little waves are too broad, we can’t see the rock that hit the center.
  • On his way back to the lobby, his cigarettes forgotten, he had to walk the length of the ranked phones. Each rang in turn, but only once, as he passed.
  • Human DNA spreading out from gravity’s steep well like an oilslick.
  • Molly and a skinny Zionite called Aerol helped Case negotiate a freefall corridor into the core of a smaller torus.
  • the music that pulsed constantly through the cluster. It was called dub, a sensuous mosaic cooked from vast libraries of digitalized
  • “DIX,” CASE SAID, “I wanna have a look at an AI in Berne. Can you think of any reason not to?” “Not unless you got a morbid fear of death, no.”
  • “Don’t,” Deane said. “You’re right. About what this all is. What I am. But there are certain internal logics to be honored. If you use that, you’ll see a lot of brains and blood, and it would take me several hours—your subjective time—to effect another spokesperson.    Case lowered the gun. “This is the matrix. You’re Wintermute.” “Yes. This is all coming to you courtesy of the simstim unit wired into your deck, of course.
  • He knew that sunlight was pumped in with a Lado-Acheson system whose two-millimeter armature ran the length of the spindle, that they generated a rotating library of sky effects around it, that if the sky were turned off, he’d stare up past the armature of light to the curves of lakes, rooftops of casinos, other streets. . . . But it made no sense to his body.
  • that their tans were uneven, a stencil effect produced by selective melanin boosting, multiple shades overlapping in rectilinear patterns, outlining and highlighting musculature;
  • “Well, it feels like I am, kid, but I’m really just a bunch of ROM. It’s one of them, ah, philosophical questions, I guess. . . .” The ugly laughter sensation rattled down Case’s spine. “But I ain’t likely to write you no poem, if you follow me. Your AI, it just might. But it ain’t no way human.”
  • His bones, beneath the hazy envelope of flesh, were chromed and polished, the joints lubricated with a film of silicone. Sandstorms raged across the scoured floor of his skull, generating waves of high thin static that broke behind his eyes, spheres of purest crystal, expanding. . . .
  • We have sealed ourselves away behind our money, growing inward, generating a seamless universe of self.
  • He saw somebody lose this key twenty years ago, and he managed to get somebody else to leave it here. Then he killed him, the boy who’d brought it here. Kid was eight.” She closed her white fingers over the key.
  • “But how would you cry, if someone made you cry?” “I spit,” she said. “The ducts are routed back into my mouth.”
  • Power, in Case’s world, meant corporate power. The zaibatsus, the multinationals that shaped the course of human history, had transcended old barriers. Viewed as organisms, they had attained a kind of immortality.
  • organism. It was the root of street cool, too, the knowing posture that implied connection, invisible lines up to hidden levels of influence.
  • It’s not just a mask, it’s like he uses real profiles as valves, gears himself down to communicate with us. Called it a template. Model of personality.”
  • “Really, my artiste, you amaze me. The lengths you will go to in order to accomplish your own destruction. The redundancy of it! In Night City, you had it, in the palm of your hand! The speed to eat your sense away, drink to keep it all so fluid, Linda for a sweeter sorrow, and the street to hold the axe. How far you’ve come, to do it now, and what grotesque props. . . . Playgrounds hung in space, castles hermetically sealed, the rarest rots of old Europa, dead men sealed in little boxes, magic out of China. . . .”
  • “I met Neuromancer. He talked about your mother. I think he’s something like a giant ROM construct, for recording personality, only it’s full RAM. The constructs think they’re there, like it’s real, but it just goes on forever.”
  • Case’s consciousness divided like beads of mercury, arcing above an endless beach the color of the dark silver clouds.
  • revulsion. She’d seen through the sham immortality of cryogenics; unlike Ashpool and their other children—aside from 3Jane—she’d refused to stretch her time into a series of warm blinks strung along a chain of winter.
  • Wintermute was hive mind, decision maker, effecting change in the world outside. Neuromancer was personality. Neuromancer was immortality. Marie-France must have built something into Wintermute, the compulsion that had driven the thing to free itself, to unite with Neuromancer.
Among the unlucky characters, the poet friend who compiled a book of quotations on bread stands out.
  • Given the dramatic manner with which she had said indivisible, one might have imagined Nina was speaking of the impregnability of a fortress.
  • “She’s a firefly, Sasha. A pinwheel.”
  • Perhaps the Fates—who of all their children loved Reversal most—
  • Yes, a bottle of wine was the ultimate distillation of time and place; a poetic expression of individuality itself. Yet here it was, cast back into the sea of anonymity, that realm of averages and unknowns. ... But looking at the bottle in his hand, the Count was struck by the realization that, in fact, it was all behind him. Because the Bolsheviks, who were so intent upon recasting the future from a mold of their own making, would not rest until every last vestige of his Russia had been uprooted, shattered, or erased.
  • we Russians have set the bronze bookends on the mantelpiece of narrative.
  • “All these years, they must have been listening to us,” Abram added in a whisper. The Count and the handyman both looked toward the roof’s edge where the bees, having traveled over a hundred miles and applied themselves in willing industry, now wheeled above their hives as pinpoints of blackness, like the inverse of stars.
  • But when the Count opened the small wooden drawer of the grinder, the world and all it contained were transformed by that envy of the alchemists—the aroma of freshly ground coffee. In that instant, darkness was separated from light, the waters from the lands, and the heavens from the earth. The trees bore fruit and the woods rustled with the movement of birds and beasts
  • “but every table in the dining room is reserved for two seatings.” “Ah,” said Emile with the grim smile of the commander who prefers to be outnumbered.
  • wines with labels could once again be found in the Metropol’s cellar (after all, despite its considerable size, the neck of a dragon has been known to whip about like that of an asp).
  • I recalled that great affirmation, that proclamation, that promise: Always to shine, to shine everywhere, to the very depths of the last days . . .
  • That sense of loss is exactly what we must anticipate, prepare for, and cherish to the last of our days; for it is only our heartbreak that finally refutes all that is ephemeral in love.
  • Nina is so determined, I fear that the force of her convictions will interfere with the joys of her youth.”
  • join the Confederacy of the Humbled.... They remain committed to living among their peers, but they greet adulation with caution, ambition with sympathy, and condescension with an inward smile.
  • It is enough to know that Anna Urbanova was once again a star with a house on the Fontanka Canal and copper ovals nailed to her furniture; though now when she has guests, she greets them at the door.
  • while Andrey, who was standing before these planets, seemed to be simply plucking them from their orbits and releasing them a moment later to pursue their natural course.
  • But what is rarely related is the fact that Life is every bit as devious as Death. It too can wear a hooded coat.
  • So, not unlike that fellow in Genesis who said Let there be this, or Let there be that, and there was this or that, when Soso said Life has improved, comrades, life—in fact—improved!
  • “Not exactly on the Dark Continent . . .” “Then where?” “In various books . . .” “Oh,” said Sofia, bringing the topic to a close with the efficiency of the guillotine.
  • If you are ever in doubt, just remember that unlike adults, children want to be happy.
  • he was on a train bound for Siberia and the realm of second thoughts.
  • for we Russians? It is a pair of twins: Nikolai Ge’s Peter the Great Interrogating Alexei and Ilya Repin’s Ivan the Terrible and His Son.
  • the Americans will lead the rest of this century because we are the only nations who have learned to brush the past aside instead of bowing before it.
  • Because when Fate hands something down to posterity, it does so behind its back.”
  • But when Manchester became crowded with factories in the early 1800s, the soot from the smokestacks began to settle on every conceivable surface, including the bark of the trees; and the lightly speckled wings that had served to protect the majority of peppered moths suddenly exposed them remorselessly to their predators—even as the darker wings of the aberrations rendered them invisible. Thus, the pitch-black varieties that had represented less than 10 percent of the Manchester moth population in 1800, represented over 90 percent by the end of the century.
  • “The food at the Boyarsky is superior,” replied the Count, “and the service is excellent. But the gossip? It is truly unsurpassed.”
  • And the evening might have come to an end right then and there, but for Andrey’s instinctive inability to let an object fall to the floor. With the lightest of steps and his fingers outstretched, the onetime juggler caught the torte in midair.
  • “He was a loyal friend,” said the Count. “He was a man of devotions,” corrected Katerina.
  • In fact, I agree with you hares, hounds, and horses that
  • For just like the rousing of Humphrey Bogart’s indignation, the clock’s ticking revealed the Count to be a Man of Intent.
  • Montaigne’s maxim that the surest sign of wisdom is constant cheerfulness.
  • Well, since the day I was born, Sofia, there was only one time when Life needed me to be in a particular place at a particular time, and that was when your mother brought you to the lobby of the Metropol.
  • “What is an intention when compared to a plan?” he said, catching Osip by the sleeve. “If the sooner the better, then why not next week?”
Amor Towles wrote a very gentle fairy tale, complete with a rooftop bee hive.
  • History has shown charm to be the final ambition of the leisure class.
  • The sky was the very blue that the cupolas of St. Basil’s had been painted for. Their pinks, greens, and golds shimmered as if it were the sole purpose of a religion to cheer its Divinity.
  • “But it weighs a ton,” said one to the other. “A king fortifies himself with a castle,” observed the Count, “a gentleman with a desk.”
  • the Countess expressed a measure of sympathy: “There is nothing pleasant to be said about losing,” she began, “and the Obolensky boy is a pill. But, Sasha, my dear, why on earth would you give him the satisfaction?” It was in this spirit that he and his grandmother parted without tears on the docks in Peterhof.
  • From the earliest age, we must learn to say good-bye to friends and family... But experience is less likely to teach us how to bid our dearest possessions adieu.
  • This efficiency of design was music to the young mind. It attested to a precision of purpose and the promise of adventure.
  • Andrey, a little breathless, bowed to express both apologies and congratulations. “Nettle it was, Your Excellency. Your palate remains unsurpassed.”
  • His model for mastering his circumstances would be a different sort of captive altogether: an Anglican washed ashore. Like Robinson Crusoe stranded on the Isle of Despair, the Count would maintain his resolve by committing to the business of practicalities.
  • In Yaroslav’s hands, the scissors initially recalled the entrechat of the danseur in a ballet, his legs switching back and forth in midair. But as the barber progressed, his hands moved with increasing speed until they leapt and kicked like a Cossack doing the hopak!
  • Russians cut from every cloth could come to linger over coffee, happen upon friends, stumble into arguments, or drift into dalliances—
  • That is, they were fought in settings that one might have expected to see in the second act of an opera. In Russia, whatever the endeavor, if the setting is glorious and the tenor grandiose, it will have its adherents... by 1900 it had tiptoed down the stairs of reason, until they were being fought over the tilt of a hat,
  • In the time that Nina had been in the hotel, the walls had not grown inward, they had grown outward, expanding in scope and intricacy.
  • “Does a banquet really need an asparagus server?” “Does an orchestra need a bassoon?”
  • For pomp is a tenacious force. And a wily one too. How humbly it bows its head as the emperor is dragged down the steps and tossed in the street. But then, having quietly bided its time, while helping the newly appointed leader on with his jacket, it compliments his appearance and suggests the wearing of a medal or two.
  • But in all likelihood, a greater factor in the difference between the two rooms was their provenance. For if a room that exists under the governance, authority, and intent of others seems smaller than it is, then a room that exists in secret can, regardless of its dimensions, seem as vast as one cares to imagine.
  • his little parallels between the respect-payers, back-patters, and latecomers of the present and those of the past.
  • “All little girls outgrow their interest in princesses,” she said. “In fact, they outgrow their interest in princesses faster than little boys outgrow their interest in clambering about.”
  • For the times do, in fact, change. They change relentlessly. Inevitably. Inventively. And as they change, they set into bright relief not only outmoded honorifics and hunting horns, but silver summoners and mother-of-pearl opera glasses and all manner of carefully crafted things that have outlived their usefulness.
  • new poetry. One that is universal, Sasha. One that doesn’t hesitate and needn’t kowtow. One that has the human spirit as its subject and the future as its muse!”
  • Though for all the Count knew, the cannons that had been salvaged from Napoleon’s retreat to make the Ascension’s bells had been forged by the French from the bells at La Rochelle; which in turn had been forged from British blunderbusses seized in the Thirty Years’ War. From bells to cannons and back again, from now until the end of time. Such is the fate of iron ore.
  • “Sometimes,” Nina clarified, “everybody tells you something because they are everybody. But why should one listen to everybody? Did everybody write the Odyssey?
  • the Latvian stew and a bottle of the Mukuzani for himself. And just as he’d suspected, it was the perfect dish for the season. The onions thoroughly caramelized, the pork slowly braised, and the apricots briefly stewed,
  • Thus it must be with some trepidation that our Western reader meets any new character in a Russian novel—knowing that in the remote chance this character plays an important role in future chapters, he must now stop and commit the name to memory. As such, I think it only fair to inform you now that while Prince Nikolai Petrov has agreed to meet the Count on Saturday night for a drink...
  • He is merely given a Minus Six: the administrative sentence that allows him to roam Russia at will, as long as he never sets foot in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kiev, Kharkov, Yekaterinburg, and Tibilisi—that is, the country’s six largest cities.
  • For after all, if attentiveness should be measured in minutes and discipline measured in hours, then indomitability must be measured in years.
  • “As if he stands shoulder to shoulder with Mayakovsky. As if he stands shoulder to shoulder with a bottle of milk.”
  • By their very nature, human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory, that they deserve not only our consideration, but our reconsideration.
  • “It is and isn’t,” said the old man. “When the lilacs are in bloom, the bees’ll buzz to the Alexander Gardens and the honey’ll taste like the lilacs.
  • The pencil was moving so brightly it looked like an honor guard—parading across the page with its head held high then pivoting at the margin to make the quick march back.
  • 去海边的洛杉矶国际机场时,十线对开的十号高速公路上车迹稀疏,路两旁烟尘弥漫,好像在拍战争片,而且是好莱坞的大制作。
  • 三日    还是不加“第”吧。人世间的无聊,常常只因为煞有介事。庄周昨天若笑了的话,今天倒可以给他老人家来个措手不及。
  • 意大利歌剧中我还喜欢罗西尼的,他的东西像小孩子的生命,奢侈而明亮。又有世俗的吵闹快乐,好像过节,华丽,其实朴素饱满。    罗西尼还是意大利歌剧宣叙调的创造者,是他用器乐伴奏改变了莫札特歌剧中的“朗诵”。有意思的是,罗西尼对歌剧中的器乐的重视,却使他的《塞米拉米德》在威尼斯的上演不被接受。
  • 乘1号船沿大运河走了两次,两岸华丽的楼房像表情过多的女人。
  • 直到现在,我们还称一个人唱不准音为“左嗓子”。魏二也是,为什么要在“教坊”这些专业人士前头卖弄呢?又疑神疑鬼,心狭而气急,不欢而散。家生既先“笑视之”,已经存了嘲弄之心,“左转也”就难脱影射嫌疑。
  • 我在云南的时候,每到山上野茶树发新叶,就斩一截青竹,寻到嫩芽,采进竹筒里捣一捣,满了拿下山来。等里面干了,劈开竹筒,就会得到一长节,姑以名之“茶棍”。茶棍去了野茶的火气,沏出来,水色通透嫩黄,用嘴唇啜一啜,鲜苦翻甜,岂止醒脑,简直醒身,很多问题都可以想通。意大利人酷爱咖啡,最普遍的一种称espresso,用专用的小金属壶煎,得一小盅,加奶和糖,随各人习惯。我试过,不加奶和糖,为的是得其本味,饮后生津但不解渴,通夜不眠,体内生邪火,跃跃欲试,尿赤黄且有沫,大概伤到肾了。也许是没有饮惯的缘故。
  • 皇帝在皇家收藏的画上印收藏章,以清高宗(俗称乾隆皇帝)最为讨厌,看过就盖,好像政府单位的收发员。
  • 终于找到了,小兰指着隔了一幢楼高处的一个圆窗。我望着圆窗,想那老太太居高必看得见海,怎么还脾气大呢?
  • 沿威尼斯岛北面的海边走,小兰指着海上的木桩说它们是可以拔起来的,木桩本是平日标示水上航道的,古时候敌人打来时,威尼斯人就拔掉木桩,没有了木桩,敌人的船就会陷进水中浅处。古代的威尼斯并非只有富足与豪华。
  • 年初我在佛罗伦斯的乌菲兹博物馆看波蒂且利的《维娜斯之诞生》,近看用笔很简,但实在是饱满。整个博物馆里的东西都是饱满,有元气,正所谓的酒神精神。
  • 其实大卫是实实在在的阿拉伯美男,他是以色列王,鼻梁坚挺,嘴唇有变化,卷发。北方欧洲人是直发,斯堪地纳维亚人为典型。当地中海东南方的文明灿烂时,“北方蛮族”赶时髦,将头发烫卷为美,我们现在还可以从英国法官头上的假卷发体会到当年的趋时遗绪。古希腊得非洲人种与文明的传布,于是古希腊的俊男美女雕像,无一不是卷发,给中国画家们的学生时代添了不少麻烦。
  • 因为头骨的造型,意大利人的脸到老的时候,越来越清楚有力,中国人的脸越老越模糊,模糊得好的,会转成一种气氛。
  • 唐朝的李氏皇族,也不是汉人,而是西亚的血缘,毛发是卷曲的,所谓“虬髯”。..  玄宗宠爱的大诗人李白,亦出生在西亚的碎叶,即现在的原属于苏联的吉尔吉斯斯坦共和国的托克玛克。他的诗颇多酒神精神,我常觉得他的有些诗是弹“东不拉”伴奏的,相比之下,杜甫的诗明显是汉风。李贺的诗亦是要以“胡风”揣度,其意象的奇诡才更迷人。 ... 自古南方多胡商,福建泉州人就多阿拉伯人裔传。
  • 现在北京有个摇滚乐队叫“唐朝”,真让人神往,但听下来,还是朋友崔健的歌词类似唐诗的有元气、朴素、易于上口。
  • 中国人很久以前就认识到语言的限制,庄子说,“得鱼忘筌”,打到了鱼,鱼篓子就忘掉。中国还有一句“得意忘形”,也是同样的意思。
  • 杯里满了的时候,就倒不进水了。将束缚你接受“新”的“旧”倒掉,才可能接受“新”。这是日本禅,容易懂,古波斯与阿拉伯也有这样的智。
  • 中国人的“历史”意识,亦是一种否定时间的空间重叠。    说说就又昏昏然起来了。
  • 中国讲究烹调,最先是为敬天,也算是敬神吧,首要是味儿,好味道升到天上去,神才欢喜,才会降福保佑。
  • 忽然听到m先生说,从前威尼斯的街墙上都是壁画。这话令我一惊,威尼斯在我的心目中完全变了一个样子。
  • 用西方的“知识分子”来代替中国的“读书人”,会误解“中国知识分子”。中国如果有西方意义的知识分子,常常是由于个别人的性格的原因,就好像麦田里总会有一些不是麦子的植物。我对知识分子不很重视,因为对“知识分子”的定义都可以用在其他的“分子”身上,例如“独立见解”,任何一个心智健全的人都会有独立见解。
  • 煎豆腐则是切几片咸肉铺在锅底,再把豆腐切成片放在肉上,撒盐,淋一点辣椒酱,想想意大利人总要吃番茄酱,也淋上一点。煎出来还不错,可惜豆腐太硬了。
  • 芒克人很漂亮,有俄国人的血统,我躺在沙滩上看着美诗人兴奋地跑来跑去,想,如果我们能赚到钱的话,可能是老天爷一时糊涂了。
  • 苏童无疑是现在中国最好的作家之一,他的叙述中有一种语气,这种语气没有几十年以来的暴力,或者说,即使苏童描写暴力,也不是使用暴力语言来描写暴力。... 厨子身上总要有厨房的味道,苏童却像电影里的厨师,没有厨房的味道。    苏童的长篇小说《米》,写出了当代中国小说中最为缺乏的“宿命”,这个宿命与性格融会在一起,开始接续《红楼梦》的传统。当代中国的意识形态是排斥宿命的,同时认为艺术完全是工具,所以多年来文学里宿命消失了,从此任何悲剧故事都不具有悲剧意义,只是悲惨、诉苦和假阳刚,这一切的总和就是荒谬。
  • 中国还有一位女作家王安忆,也是异数,她从《小城之恋》、《岗上的世纪》到《米尼》,出现了迷人的宿命主题,使我读后心里觉得很饱满,也使我觉得中国文学重要的不是进化式的创新,而是要达到水平线。    这样的作家,还有一些,像刘震云、李锐、余华、刘恒、范小青、史铁生、莫言、贾平凹、朱晓平、马原、李晓等等等等...
  • 中国传统小说的精华,其实就是中国世俗精神。纯精神的东西,由诗承担了,小说则是随世俗一路下来。
  • 意大利古代的素描,迷人的是浅浅的线条与纸的关系,产生一种银质的素丽与微妙。中国古典绘画重视的笔墨也是这种素描关系,墨用得好,也是银质的。
  • 朋友木心在回答《中国时报》关于中国作家什么时候能得诺贝尔文学奖的时候一针见血:译文比原文好,瑞典人比中国人着急的时候。
  • 我的原因我自己明白,就是每天从半夜写到院子里的鸟叫了。你知道鸟在一天的什么时候开始叫吗?
  • 但所有这些地方,据我的观察,独独威尼斯具有豪华中的神秘,虽然它的豪华受到时间的腐蚀,唯其如此,才更神秘。...猫像影子般地滑过去,或者静止不动。运河边的船互相撞击,好像古人在吵架。
  • 师傅当然记得自己的诺言,叫徒弟把耳朵凑近自己的嘴,用最后的力气告诉他:
  • 刘亮彩,声音像画家笔下的枯笔,应该是我们现在说的沙嗓子。周仲莲在台上每次演梳头,台下观众脸色大变。蔡茂根演戏,帽子欲坠,观众都很担心,可帽子就是不掉。
  • 这种小船其实难做,它们的身体要很巧妙地歪曲一些,于是用一只桨正好把船划直。船舷上有一块奇妙的“丫”型木头,桨支在上面可以自由摆动。水手上岸时,随手将这块木头拔下带走,船就好像被锁上了,没有它,划起来船只会转圈子。
  • 所以,“季文子三思而后行。子闻之,曰:再,斯可矣。”确实,想两次足够了。
  • 助手们在用纸做雪花,效果不理想,我有这方面的经验,于是自告奋勇。让纸屑飘落的办法是先要抻松整张纸,然后再轻轻拉成小片,这样的纸屑可以透过一些空气,会像真的雪那样飘,而不是垂直落下。
  • 晚上刘索拉从伦敦来电话,她九月去参加美国爱荷华大学的国际写作计划。
  • 今天下雨,恐怕在街上还是遇不到朋友。人世就是这样,会静静地突然想到忽略了极熟的东西。
  • 四百年间的传教士不知道写给梵蒂冈教廷多少信,这些信里包含了多少中国古代、近代、当代的消息!我因为要写汤若望的电影剧本,读了不少这类东西,好像在重新发现中国。
  • 回到威尼斯,天色尚明,船在大运河里走,两岸是古老华丽布景般的楼宇,rialto桥上已经开灯了,黄色的灯。
I wasn't surprised to find that author Yuval Noah Harari is Israeli -- he fits my stereotype of Israelis who don't suffer fools or illusions gladly.
  • Myth making allows human (Sapiens) to cooperate beyond 150 member bands, whose social glue is gossip. "UN condemns Libya for human rights violations" -- each noun in this sentence is a myth.
  • The foragers are the original "Affluent Society.
  • Humans are an ecological disaster throughout history. Megafauna extinction in Australia and the Americas all linked to human expansion into these areas. (Marine megafauna extinction almost there.)
  • Agricultural revolution is a trap. More (unhappy) gene copies is a win for evolution. Population growth shut the trap, and humans can't go back to foraging.
  • From the very advent of agriculture, worries about the future became a major player int he theatre of the human mind.
  • Domestication cruelty: blinded pigs, camel calves with lips cut so that suckling becomes painful. <Faustian bargains everywhere>
  • Mass cooperation rarely egalitarian or equitable. (Concentration camps is a form of that.)
  • Objective/subjective/inter-subjective; imaginary order

  • History is a level 2 chaotic system, which responds to predictions about it.
  • Cultures are mental parasites developed accidentally.
  • The state and the market are the father and mother of the individual, who can't survive outside a family without them.
  • Contradictions are built into cultures, and cognitive dissonance is a feature, not a bug.
  • Money is the apogee of open-mindedness. Religion asks us to believe in something; money askes us to believe that other people believe in something.
  • “殿下,您是大徵的皇子,臣下是您的随扈将军,断没有抛下您自己逃命的道理。”少年自幼在军营生长,如此豪壮而殷勤的套话听得熟了,说来也顺畅。等到话出了口,心里才不禁一紧,如同平整的绸子从半腰里被挑了一丝出去似的,寸把宽的一道全抽缩起来。这孩子的伶俐解事是赔着小心的,像是时刻担忧着会触怒了谁,已到了低微可怜的地步。
  • 乘着昶王远放异国的时机,宋妃指使兵部,从当年投考禁军的新丁中拣出武试最后一名,玩笑似地擢了那十五岁少年汤乾自一个五千骑职位,配以五千新兵随昶王往注辇。
  • 它占地广大,街巷反倒出奇地紧仄;涂饰浓艳,建筑却参差欹斜。屋宇之间那些盘曲的空隙,晴天里是尘土飞扬的道路,雨季便成为密如蛛网的河汊,每座房子都自成一座小小的岛屿。稍微有点头脸的人家出行,皆是从自家的屋顶出发,几个仆工扛着阔大木板在前头开路,走到哪里,临时的桥梁便搭到哪里。更有排场的是坐在混血的寒风夸父力士肩上招摇过市,倘若力士的血统足够纯正,肩上甚或可以多坐两名舞姬的话,那主人定然是得罪不起的达官显贵了。再往下,肮脏的水面上,力士们粗壮如柱的大腿旁,那些小心翼翼穿梭着的尖头小舟,才是平民们日常乘坐的交通工具,人坐在上边,像两颗豆紧巴巴填在干瘪的豆荚里,还设法塞进各色菜蔬瓜果、布帛盆桶,甚至两三个幼儿,然而若是船再宽些,有些水道就过不去了。这里的住民高大、黝黑、神情懒散。透早时分,雨暂时歇了,女人们听见叫卖白莲花的声音,便纷纷推开窗户,像是无数紧闭的花苞里先后绽放出五光十色的蕊丝。 <> 卖花的孩子们坐在大木盆里,在街道间漂流来去,腿和脚丫都被霜雪般的花簪儿埋了起来,脸盘肮脏,笑起来牙齿倒是像洄鲸湾的贝壳一样耀眼。雨季里,毕钵罗就是这样在水上晃晃荡荡的一座城,而雷州的雨季又总是长得要命。.. 这座城里有极馥烈的香药,亦有极腐恶的沟渠,两者同样闻名于世,也同是东陆三流诗人惯用的譬喻。
  • 片刻,便有一点金屑,从对岸那一带暗金中脱离出来,横过稠重的赭色水面,渐渐向着这边来了。那是包铜的平底轻羽船,船头卷起,艉部伸出一支鹅颈,自上而下坠着七盏玲珑的风灯,远远望去正像一支巨大的赤金色羽毛漂浮水面。轻羽船的船腹装有河络的机括,航速不快,却极为稳重,只需五名船夫便可开动,可运载重甲兵士二十名。
  • 流水般的铃声霍然响起。    仿佛整整一桌子的琉璃碗盏被人扫到地上,凿雪碎玉,翻滚碰跳,跌破成千万张薄锐甜脆的冰糖片儿,又撞成了块,撞成晶莹的粉末,许久许久,直到那铃声终于停歇,每个人耳里还是恍然有着潺潺不绝的余韵,犹如一枚银铢在绝薄的青瓷瓶腔子内弹跳。
  • 如同天际传来模糊的远雷,二十来道铮铮的金石声自远处响起,迅疾地贴着地面,依次朝屏风前划了过来。那是注辇步卒惯用的长柄乌铁大刀,冲锋急行的时候为了不妨碍行动,都侧拖在地,夜间远望往往不见刀身,却有一线火星在地上跳跃,唤作“鬼拖”。鬼拖的刀势极为沉实,若非有一身惊人的蛮力,便无法举过头顶,然而若是借着奔跑的劲力,将拖地的刀刃骤然向侧上斜飞抡起,既快且重,将眼前的敌人如稻子般扫倒下去,即便是北陆的良马,一举亦可砍翻一匹。东陆军士使用的佩刀虽然有成年男子一臂长短,入手也颇有分量,与鬼拖相比,却不过算是孩子玩耍用的铁片刀罢了。
  • 既是叛臣作乱,为何王城卫士与英迦大君的亲卫竟夜鏖战于宴殿风台之下,为何大君的亲随夸父会暴起闯入王城内城,这些关窍枝节,自那之后也都是无从追考的了。适值夏末,尚有溽热之气,腐食的青翎猎枭昼夜翔集于王城之上,半月不散,因得名“盘枭之变”。钧梁王这一伤,延宕了三十余年,直到他崩殂的那一日,始终没有痊愈。英迦大君的摄政,亦就此持续了三十余年。
  • 那是徵朝麟泰二十七年的夏末,相隔瀚海的东陆上,八年仪王之乱不过刚刚拉开序幕一角。在这八年间,那数十万注定要被划入死籍的氓民与军士,此时仍忙着他们日复一日的生息歌哭,不知冥冥前路。
  • “震初,你说得对。”他一字一字地说,仿佛是怕自己弄不明白,要讲解给自己听似的,“盘枭之变的时候,是你领着我逃走;后来港口起了骚乱,是你将兵士派出去保护大徵来的商团,说日后他们会回报我们;是你叫心腹的那些人夜里出去为商团巡逻守卫,换取财货消息,积蓄经营……你一向是对的。如今褚奉仪起兵作乱,若是竟然得逞,东陆归了他,这些打鱼的注辇人为了能和东陆继续贸易,自然会毫不犹豫地把我交给褚奉仪处置。我若是要活下去,只有倚仗仲旭。如果仲旭败了,我只有死。”    季昶走到桌前,展开一卷新纸,在砚上润了润笔锋,又道:“把银钱取出来,明日到市集上收购粮草,还有咱们存下的那些兵刃……打听打听仲旭扎营在哪儿,雇几艘胆大的好船给他送去。”    言语虽这样流利,他的手却还在空中迟迟悬着。他从小就学会了如何向命运俯首称臣,如何将孩童稚小的骄傲与任性寸寸弯折,压迫在铸铁般牢不可破的笑脸之下。每一次他都想,这是最后一次了,然而每一次,总是失望的。
  • 他并非天生胆气豪勇,只是有数十人还听从着他的号令,而像他这样的人,既然做了别人的依靠,就再没有畏惧的权利了。这层道理是她多年以后才明白的。她不懂他们的言语,可她忘不了那些简短有力宛在耳畔的句子,在她往后无光的世界里,是手边惟一坚实的支撑。
  • 汤乾自愕然回首,秋千正荡到最高,一身白衣的女孩儿两手一松,整个人从秋千上跃了出来,宛如一道清亮耀目的泉水自灿烂群星中飞流直下,向他怀里落下来。
  • 所谓幛子戏,一切场景皆是幛子上扁平空洞的画,人们全都屏息等待着那些绮丽的帐幕一重一重揭开,最深处遮掩着的那个收场是真是假,他们倒不在乎。
  • 人人都说当年是他救了她,她也一直这样相信。    原来他说的是:殿下,不能留她性命。
  • 照理来说,世人被当面指斥背信弃义,多半要气急败坏,奇的是你一番话说完,我不仅颜面无损,还觉得你这孩子真是体恤懂事,我肚子里那些见不得人的心思,你都知道一个个绕过去。好人揣测坏人的心思是难的,只有坏人才这样明白坏人,我又知道了,殿下有谋,还是恶谋。
  • 林木密密层层簇拥,最低凹处豁然展开一面水波,是神祗凝视星夜的漆黑巨眼,莹澈而窅暗,广阔得令人心惊。万千细小银芒自水面蒸腾起来,如烟如絮,向着天宇浮游飞升,潋滟湖光底下汪着一池浓酽的墨,仿佛埋藏了深不可测的秘密。
  • 这时汤乾自才发觉,缬罗的花芯里原来满盛着清澄的夜露,缇兰将那沾着泪的指尖刚一浸下去,露水便成了熔化的银,白光愈盛,从火焰中穿透出来,火焰反倒慢慢暗弱下去,终于是熄灭了,只剩下琉璃盏似的花朵,盈盈托着一泓冷碧的水。
  • 这一刻光景,她曾反覆揣测描画,如一枚蚌吞下沙砾,琢磨成珠,苦痛中有深埋的期望与甘甜。设想过万种情境,惟独不当如此。
  • 就有愿意变回常人的盲歌者,就算他找着了缬罗花,又怎会有什么说谎者愿意随他前去?自古至今,这传说不曾有一次确凿的应验,简直渺茫得荒诞。可我是个注定要终生关在黑屋子里的人,哪怕只是一丝光,一线希望,也愿意将性命押在这上边。侥天之幸,竟让我赌赢了——只是我总以为这说谎者的泪,该是我自己眼里流下来的,没想到竟是你的。”
  • 汤乾自终于觉得一柄炽红的利刃飒一声穿透了他的胸臆,心脉中奔涌的鲜血全数滚沸起来,灼干了,涓滴不留,烧出一道贯穿肺腑的空洞。风吹过,里边的灰烬便簌然落尽,激起了疼痛。    他徒然开了口,却唤不出她的名字。她的名字,就是他心脉上穿刺的那柄赤红利刃,梗阻着血流,每一次搏动,都是沉重的钝痛。
  • 如远游的水手坐在桅杆上,追忆起少年时擦肩而过的恋人,当年刻骨铭心的眉眼已模糊了,可是每想起来仍说她是世上最美的女子。就是那样绝色的容颜。
  • 霹雳裂响,隆隆滚过屋脊。缇兰合上眼睛,仿佛看见万千世界倾屺崩毁,星辰焚烧成灰,随着无休无止的雨瀑冲刷而下,黑暗中卷挟着火花,落向永不见底的地渊。
  • 她的半生,不过是这样一只冰盏。父母、兄弟、挚友、恋人,所有她要挽留的人们,为着这样那样的缘由,都远离了她。每迈出一步,脚下都有无穷无尽的歧途,各往各的方向去了,到头来,每个人都是孤身前行。
  • 她梦见那年晴和的暮春天气,日光烘得人骨头发酥,她十四岁,乘着堆满洁白菡萏的大木盆,漂流在帕帕尔河上。梦里有人牵着她的手,温暖坚定,仿佛一世都不肯放开。    纵然此刻窗外莽原暮雪,关山如铁。
The first time I take the trouble to read both the English original and the Chinese transalation of the same novel. Spoiler: the original reads a lot better, and the supporting cast get better lines. Robert Van Gulik's work reminds me of Lindsey Davis, as crimes don't change much across centuries and continents.

(Most of the English only bits are omitted from the translation, for unknown reasons.)
  • My district faces the Korean peninsula across the sea, and our Korean vassals are rather restive at present. The Prefect kept me busy from morning till night.
  • Magistrate Teng said in a measured voice:/滕侃郑重其事地对潘有德说
  • ' In a way this exit is also a sight of our town ! It was built more than seventy years ago as a secret entrance, when there was an armed rebellion here. As you know, at that time the governor, the famous——'
    Judge Dee hastily cut him short by thanking him pro­fusely.
  • Since he is such a famous poet, I had im­agined him as a jovial fellow and a brilliant causeur. But he seems a bit of an old stick, and rather a martinet. He looked ill and worried.'
  • ' She may be good at poetry,' Chiao Tai observed, ' but I still think her husband had better add two or three nice young girls to his bedroom furniture, just to get inspiration from, so to speak.'
  • ' Nothing of the sort ! ' the manager said crossly. Pushing the book over to Chiao Tai he added importantly: 'My hostel has a high reputation, I can afford to pick my guests ! '
    ' A pity your mother couldn't pick you ! ' Chiao Tai said as he put their clothes bundle on the floor and took the brush. The judge had written ' Shen Mo, commission agent, 34, from Tai-yuan.'

  • ' I take it that the manager won't mind us fencing here,' Judge Dee said as he took up his stance. ' One peep out of him and I'll smash his head down into his fat belly ! ' Chiao Tai shouted belligerently. '
  • ' First, as to you with your beard and your smug face, you smell of the tribunal. Since you are a strong fellow, you must be a former headman of constables. You tortured an innocent prisoner to death, you filched money from the cashbox, or both. Anyway, you had to flee and you took to the road.
  • ' That insolent rascal was useful in so far as he reminded me of an important rule which a detector of crimes should always keep in mind. And that is that one should never let oneself be tempted to cling stubbornly to one theory.
  • In the hall the fat manager was busy adding up the bill of four merchants who were leaving. He had wound a white cloth round his sweating brow, and was industriously click­ing the beads of his abacus. But he wasn't too busy to say, as the judge passed the counter : ' Behind the Temple of the War God you'll find a terrain especially reserved for physical exercise, Mr Shen.'
  • The four guards sitting on the bench eyed them indifferently.
  • For the fundamental rule of justice was that everyone appearing be­fore the bench was considered guilty until he was able to prove his innocence.
  • the magistrate raised his head and spoke : ' You have all heard now the new text of the constitution of the Guild of Metal Workers, as submitted by the said guild and amended by this court. Is there any objection? '
  • the gavel, an oblong block of hardwood significantly known as the 'Wood that frightens the hall '.
  • 'Don't you know? That's the banker Leng Chien.
  • ' My colleague has put his finger on the sore spot ! '
  • ' Roost of all Gourmets within the Four Seas '. 四海美味居
  • 酒足饭饱后出了酒楼专拣那热闹的市廛看新鲜,狄公尤爱听那些售卖本地土产的坐贩们叫卖的声调。
    Now and then they halted in a gaily lit shopping street, looking at the local products which were praised by voci­ferous street vendors, or listening in to a particularly acri­monious bout of bargaining.
  • 乔泰没奈何,咧了咧嘴表示服从。
    Chiao Tai grinned. Tightening his belt he said :' Maybe we'll have a good fight there ! '
  • and on top a loose dark-green jacket that left her shapely bosom bare.
  • He announced in a sing-song voice :
    ' A pair of fours, four cross-eyed whores ! '
    The next, a broad-shouldered, completely bald man scooped up the dice.
    ' A pair of eights, two leaking crates, they walked the street, and still found mates ! The pool is for me ! '
  • 半脸的络腮胡子 / a ragged ringbeard and a short, bristling moustache.
  • ' This is our housekeeper. She is an ex-professional, but still as good as new, eh, Carnation ? Nowadays she only walks the street if she needs a new dress or so, amateur-like.
  •  狄公笑道:“这个不碍事,我有法子。”说着就在秀才坐的那块大石头周围不快不慢转了三圈,口中念念有词。
    ' That's bad ! ' the judge said. ' You said just now that their cries amused you. The ghosts will have heard that. But wait, I'll help you ! ' He walked three times round the boulder with measured pace, muttering some weird spells under his breath. ' You are safe ! ' he announced. ' I learned to make that magic circle from an old itinerant Taoist monk. No ghost can come inside.'
    He left, convinced that the youngster wouldn't meddle with the dead body while he was away.
  • They are all beautiful, but only one has caught his fancy.
  • Chiao Tai shifted on his tabouret. Why didn't the old duenna appear with the customary tea? Since the courtesan had clearly indicated that he was acceptable, according to the etiquette of the ' world of wind and willows ', he could now discuss the price with her duenna.
  • As the poet says : " The torrential rain crushes the autumn rose".'
  • 'Why his sudden love for us? ' Chiao Tai asked sourly.
    'Presumably because we are exactly the combination he needs for his blackmail scheme. He knows that I, who look fairly respectable, I trust, can gain admittance to the banker's private office, and am capable of conducting the negotiation, while he trusts you to add physical pressure, if that should prove necessary. Moreover, we are strangers here. He couldn't easily find a pair of crooks so eminently suited to his purpose, and I presume that that's why he went out of his way to contact us.
  • 狄公用蜡烛将笔头散开的乱毛烧掉,再放在嘴里好好地舔了一阵,终于把笔头弄尖了。
    as the proverb says, " Don't stay in another's house unless you know the host well."
  • If the fellow who did it isn't found plenty quick, this whole town'll be crawling with military police, secret police, special agents from the Prefecture, special investigators and their men, and all the other vermin that call themselves the law.
  • asked curiously: 'How would your men go about that? None of them will even know her by sight ! '
    'They'll know her baubles, won't they?' the Corporal asked impatiently. ' It's their job ! When you or me see an expensive skirt go by, either on foot or carried in a litter, we try to get a peep at her muzzle. But a beggar looks only at the trinkets she carries. He has been trained to do that, it's his rice-bowl !
  • The Corporal guffawed. He poked the judge in the ribs and said:
    'You think you're still a headman, eh? Arrest the people, put them on the rack, and they'll tell you everything ! What do you think the madame would do when you went there asking questions? Offer you a turn, on the house? '
    The judge bit his Up. Things were moving too fast, he was making bad mistakes.
  • “没有。狄老爷,我还从来未听说过这个名字。你这两天里对本城的了解比我在这儿几十年的还多,这可真令人惊叹!”  “多半是运气不错,都给撞上了。
  • 潘有德从衣袖中拿出一卷纸交给狄公,狄公展开仔细地从头至尾看了一遍,修改了一些句子,把发现柯兴元尸体的主要功劳归于潘有德,然后在证词上签字,盖了私章。说道:“今天审判分两堂进行,滕县令将审坤山,我本人审柯夫人,最后滕县令同我一起审冷虔。这儿是两张批子,均为三百五十两金子,约是冷虔偷挪柯兴元赃钱总数的七成,你将领取人的名字填上柯家的继承人,因为这笔钱依律应归他的子女所有。”
  • 排军将公函塞进腰带,把那包丝绸挟在粗壮的胳膊下面,惘然地望着狄公傻笑,黑堂堂的脸上闪出了喜悦和羞赧的光亮。半晌,才激动地叫道:“天哪!校尉,校尉!”他转个身,兴奋地冲了出去。
  • “女子的贞操是我们神圣的人伦纲常的基石,它关系到世风淳朴、人心敦厚。朝廷律令也明确规定奸夫淫妇双双都要处以死刑。
  • “那天深夜,我终于来了。你津津有味地讲过你这四漆屏的故事,你的信心又升起来了。可是使你失望的是我发现了一些缺点,并暗示你存在着第三者杀人的可能。我的意见对你来说是最不受欢迎的了,后来你意识到移动尸体的不智而我也许可能想出一个办法来帮你掩饰。因此你同意推迟去见刺史,同时放手让我去寻找真正的凶手。你认为我肯定是徒劳无功的,以为绝不可能会有第三者闯入这样的巧合。  “现在对你来说一切结果都是很好的。你没有亲手杀死你夫人,这对你可能还不满足。可是另一方面,你现在却是一个更受人同情和尊敬的诗人了。你的夫人,也可以称为诗友,被人残酷地杀害了,而你作为一个诗人,一个不幸的受害者,名声将会越来越大。四漆屏的传奇没人讲了,但你们这对终身伴侣的故事却人人称道,代代流传。你的诗不可能再有任何长进了,人们会说这完全是破坏你幸福的这一残酷打击所造成的。悲痛欲绝当然会挫折了诗思和灵感。人人都会同情你的遭遇,高度赞扬你的诗歌,你的诗名即使与那王、杨、卢、骆齐称也不为过的。”
__ 狄公道:“今夜筵席上我正欲见见过汉源士绅商宦的各项首领,俾使彼此无壅隔。官民但无壅隔,则百弊自除,百业盛兴,地方靖安,垂拱可图。”
__ 狄公一抹儿看去,果见刘飞波坐在长桌一边,自顾喝酒,旁若无人。也没听见韩咏南刚才一番言语。 “看这位刘先生虽是商人,端的一副官宦仪态。”狄公暗暗喝采。
很久没有看family saga这个类型了。盛放毕竟还是对张家女子没有太虐,但不虐不出好戏,小凤仙这条线就最薄弱一些。
  • 在路上他已经想得很清楚,即使他做了一件似乎可以提要求的事情,但也不能在这个时候提出来,怎么提,他已经有了主意。他懊恼的是他就这样被动地接受了小凤仙的一块钱,自己在口袋里摸索的窘样,看在小姑娘眼里,只怕是存心不找吧……想一回,再呆一阵,终于还是摔摔头,让喜悦和充满希望的心情浮了上来。
  • 要到若莲不紧不慢地说:“刘先生,你的情况我略知一二,但窃以为,你的计划有不够周密的地方,你拿到了明铛的请柬恐怕也追不回你失去的东西啊。”的时候,他才觉得头“嗡”就大了,不知道说点什么才好,几乎立刻就从椅子上站起来,又强撑着不动,想不露声色,又觉得真没那个必要——什么都瞒不过面前这个美夫人,
  • 据说宁平的父亲在张雪亭面前连提也不敢提带孩子走的话,只一切听她安排调遣。他最后离开上海的时候,被允许见孩子一面。在他整个后半生,他都被那一幕纠缠:那个孩子孤单地坐在一丛蔷薇前面,托着腮,有一张和他一模一样的脸。蔷薇花呀,粉色的蔷薇花,明明只有那么一丛,可后来出现在他记忆中的时候,总感觉是一天一地。那种锥心刺骨的感觉令他再也不敢看这种花。偏生蔷薇又是那么普通那么普通的品种,无论走到哪里都会碰到。碰到一次便烂醉一次,四十岁上就生了肝病。
  • 甚至,宁秀根本就是她支开,要她兄妹二人永远不能聚首。张燕飞从来不打算让张宁平好过,也从来不打算放过她自己。
  • 问题在于他竟然不知死活地爱上了她,还不幸是真的那种爱情,在某个燃烧的最高点,他几乎觉得为她去死都是毫不动容的。结果,就这样了。李老头在这条类似于贫民窟的街上卖馄饨已近十年,他吃得少穿得少,攒下每一分钱。每年的某个日子,他还会朝某个地址寄去一样东西,据说那是那个女人的生日。这个故事在这条长街上固然颇有传奇味道,但久了也就习惯了,唯一的社会效应是,整条街上的女人都对儿子耳提面命:绝对绝对不能招惹比自己年纪大的女人。
  • 年轻到哪怕是这样的关系,哪怕是李子明和张若莲这样性格的人,在一次次肌肤相亲之后,双眸对望,都曾有那么几个瞬间,一直望到对方的灵魂里去。 那个夏天以后,李子明就要出发,他和张若莲都清清楚楚地看得到他们的结局,所以,他们呆在一起的每一天里都充满了那一声又一声的蝉鸣。那种昆虫,拼了命地,唱出金属一般的亮丽音色,恍若燃烧。
  • 某一个瞬间,她多么希望干这事的人再多聪明那怕一分半分,至少再多那么一点点遮掩,让她哪怕有一丝自欺欺人的余地也好啊。可惜,那个人的智慧,不多不少,刚够这么残酷。
  • 若莲知道,她真的嫉妒了。不但嫉妒人家献上的真心,更嫉妒的是,张爱卿肆意享受的姿态——那种肆意,几乎是要真正的贵族家的,被宠坏的,没有伤过心没有受过一丝一毫的苦的小姐才表现得出的坦然。呶,这才是张爱卿天赋中最最难得的部分:明明是个幼年丧母的娼家女子,偏偏可以活得跟个八旗子弟也似。
  • “我觉得,她那样做,其实就是她想的。”若莲说,“小凤仙,你要记住,这个世上没有什么事是所谓的不得已。”
  • “呵呵……”若莲笑了,黑暗中小凤仙看不见她的笑,但可以想象她的样子,“做都做了,就算开始不愿意,后来一定要告诉自己是愿意的,慢慢,就成了真的。”
  • 燕飞,其实,燕飞并不仅仅是活该而已吧,可是,不能觉得她可怜。这个世界,可曾因为谁比较可怜而换了人间?
  • 然后,是漫长的,差不多七年光景。在最初的半年里,日子真有一点不好过呢。其实,现在回想,似乎也并没有什么大不了。只是有时候会觉得夜有些长,有时候会无端端走神,有时候,会——想。想。那是一种细细碎碎的想念,想到的时候会笑,然后,是无尽的寂寥。明明知道,他不会有信来,有时候仍然免不了有一点不切实际的盼望。在听到他所在的国家的名字的时候,会觉得亲切。在有人说到某条街或者某个馆子的时候,也会觉得有一点点雀跃——那是他住过的街那是他在上海时常下的馆子。甚至,在有客人姓李或者名字里有个子或者明都会觉得亲切。如此种种,说不出是好还是坏。那绝不仅仅是苦涩,也谈不上什么痛彻心肺之类,相反,大多数时候是快活的,仿佛,他还在。当然,也绝不能自虐地说这是什么好。毕竟绝望。
  • 只因为叮当现在所挣的每一毛钱都是她入画的,所以,为了要拔得头筹,竟不惜令自己当众出丑,这对于任何一个别的母亲,只怕下手之前都要犹豫一下吧。但是,入画多半不会呢。
  • 这些年下来,若莲早已学会,一件事,如果好得不象真的,那就一定不是真的。凡事从不敢用力太过,寄托太深。有时候甚至想,如果和李子明相对的日子数目是注定的,那情愿一个月见一次,甚至半年一年见一次也好,不要多,不要密,只求久一点。然,还是生离。
  • 就象小凤仙不敢惊动若莲一样,若莲也不敢惊动她,甚至不敢额外地多寄钱过去——生怕露出一星半点察觉的迹象,那边就只会寄来花好月圆的他乡风物志。  只有彼此硬起心肠,只有双双相信对方可以应付。
  • 她想起了那条胡同,想起了胡同里的那个家,想起了,她成长以后才意识到的,母亲对于命运连不甘也不敢的无法追问的乐天。
  • 多年在人和人的关系中浮浮沉沉,若莲自然清楚所有感情开始的时候,都一定会有那么些个瞬间是真的,只是人们并不是真了那一瞬就立刻死掉,所以,这真在时间里会慢慢地变质,也许好,也许坏,也许无疾而终。可是,当是时,只有这一个刹那也就够了。并且,当是时,这一点真不是男女之情,它是人生值得经历下去的一个理由——在亲眼目睹亲身经历着人可以坏到千倍万倍于禽兽的时刻,这一点真无异于火花甚至是太阳。就算是过后粉身碎骨,又怎样呢?
  • 这个时代有很多这样的名字,存在的时候标志着某种生活方式,为当事人带来巨大的精神快感。然,时间会把一切变得平淡。
  • 象张雪亭这种人,至死也不愿堕了腔调,至死也不肯落了下乘,至死也不肯被单纯的欲望控制。
  • 当初,在一个孩童的心里,把什么都无限放大了。然后,在回忆里删删减减,哪里还有原来的样子?
  • 回忆,是多么不可靠的东西啊。可是,如果没有回忆,每一天都是白纸一般,活下去又有什么意思?
  • 她亦不知道,这样的追索还是危险的,无人引领,作如此纯想,灵魂便被放到同样细若游丝的一条线上锻造,稍有不慎,便会滑到理智的反面。燕飞就这样,带着一个问题,带着心智的一点灵光,彻底地陷入了一个人的世界。
  • 啊,不,那时候共同经历这些事的,还有奶娘的小儿子,在他的记忆中,应该还有一件。这加起来的四件事,到底哪一件是真的呢?似乎应该是真正发生过的那一件是真的,其他的都是它的虚像或者投影。可是,那真正发生过的,早就湮没在时间的流光中,既不可还原亦不可追溯,根本就没有意义。对于自己,真有意义的,应该是记忆中的,自己的那一份感觉和体验。是了,所谓的真实都仅仅是相对的,与其追求真实,不如问询是否具有意义。而有意义的,是自己的思想和体验。记忆的可靠不可靠并不重要,重要的是它对自己的意义。同时,也只有自己才赋予它意义——人的意识一旦消散,它就不再存在。
  • 那个凌晨,刘勇拉着车,带着若莲从码头返回的时候,整个上海似乎静得只剩下他们两个。刘勇清晰地感觉到车上若莲的心事,生离,死别,心碎,却又欣慰。命运大手拨弄下,拼了命还要快活起来的倔强。如果可以,他希望能够在她的肩头放下一只手,什么也不说,只是让她知道他明白她。可是不能。他只能咬紧了牙,硬生生地将所有心疼所有敬意所有爱意所有——自己心中激荡的那种又酸又胀又有些甜蜜的心事压下去,默默地拉着车,在无人的长街上一路小跑。
  • 还有,数年之前的某个晚上,她好端端地睡着,忽然就惊醒,小腹痛得死去活来,浑身汗出如雨,家人当即把她送往医院,在医院中,她莫名其妙地大出血,差一点点就死掉。很奇怪,就是在那样的痛苦中,她竟然清醒地,用直觉意识到,或许,有除了身体以外的其他原因。  “是妹妹。”冯惟敏定了定神,微笑,“她是41年6月在您那里吧?”  “是的。”林巧稚温和地笑,“我记得很清楚,那一次可真够凶险。您的一对外甥差一点点就救不过来。”
  • 往事,呵,人到老来总是会发现有无数的往事挤占于生活当中,它们的体积那么巨大,力量那么强悍,几乎是无孔不入——随时随地都会来。
  • 呵,当年那些颠倒于十七岁的张明铛的马术和枪法的男人们怎么也不会想到她将其派了这种用场。他们更不会想到她如今顶着一个“夜叉王”的匪号。
  • 能这样近距离地看着母亲,真好。小凤仙在心里一万次地感谢若莲,谢谢她这些年来,在那样的时局下仍然好好地活着,活到让自己能有这样的机会,用眼角的余光偷偷凝望她的面颊,然后在心底切实不切实地勾画剩下岁月的相守光景。
  • 人生总有些时候需要傻一点,才会快活。因为“情义”两字最不能分析,细究下来,大半都同利益无关。雪铛和云铛给不了那个人以情,至少还可全以义。
  • 她凝神去听,似乎可以从声音分辨出这城市每一滴雨的不同落点——飞来窗户上的有玻璃的冷,滴在遮阳蓬上的声音有布料的朴,落在不锈钢窗台上的有金属的脆,落在稠密树冠上的有植物的清,落在地上的,则带了一丝水泥的凉。她就这样坐着,仿佛坐在了过往、现在和将来的无尽岁月中。
  • 最困难的年月里,黑市上一个南瓜的价格可以和一个教师的月薪等同。所以,有“南瓜教师”的说法。
  • 其实,如果真要就小军的心态深度追问,会发现,他对燕飞的解读也是出于他的需要——当对生身父母的温情幻想破灭以后,那种被抛弃的巨大孤独感令其迫切地需要一个出口。加上浪潮中的一切常常令懂得思考的他困惑迷茫,心中的茫茫空洞一定要一些别的什么来填补,否则,他的灵魂将失去重量。如果不能破茧成蝶,便只能闷死在蛹中,终生不见阳光。从精神上,他必须找到一个能让他去爱去信任去付出去破茧的支撑点。所以,几个不眠之夜后,他完成了由造反派小军向提菜刀的小军的蜕变。
  • 说真的,要是没有红星宾馆的经历,她对这种到亲戚或者说朋友酒店房间去洗澡的举动多少会有不解甚至是排斥,但有了那一周的经验,她非但觉得是合理的,而且觉得是必须的,甚至立刻想到:“呀,昨天忘了让叮当也洗个澡再走。”
  • 宁秀想,这终于好算是母亲得到的一线光了。当没有阳光照进生命的时候,她试图用微弱的力量去为旁人点一支烛。而这个旁人,在能够站起来之后,助她推开了一扇窗。令她的生命终点,终于沐浴在了阳光之下。
  • 那天有很温柔很温柔的风,他们说的话全都飘散在了风里。那些话语和笑声长出了蝴蝶的羽翼,飞去所有错过的别后光阴,将所有皱褶一一抚平。  “这就是告别了。”若莲想,“这样的告别真的很好。”她对李子明伸出手去:“约个来生。”李子明将手伸过去,喉头轻轻一哽,“约个来生。”
  • 是的,她在人生最后的光阴里开始自省,在病痛折磨中开始痛苦自省。将这一生以为想通其实没通的所有问题一个一个地拎出来,直面藏得最深的自己,提问:“是否真的怀疑,是否真的抱怨,是否真的委曲,是否又真的嫉妒?” 答案是:“不,不,不,不,不。”   我这一生,无有怀疑,无有抱怨,无有委曲,无有嫉妒。过往时光均是好时光,因为不曾迷失。那些坚持和忍耐不是向现实屈服的不甘,而是真正的我最想要的。  若莲,最终打赢了这最艰险的一仗,在没有上帝或者别的神的帮助下,如同初生婴儿一般通透地走向了死亡。无忧无怖,无挂无碍。
  • 她并不知道,她的队伍护送过的人里,也有叮当亲手送出的。他们是国境线内最后一站,
  • “对。”宁秀点头,“靠山山倒,靠水水跑。得从一开始就牢记这个。”
  • “所以,我们这个张家,我们的母亲首先是被要求斩情绝爱,不但是男女之情禁止,而且连母女之情都是不被提倡的——因为这个部分被拿来换了钱。拿钱换了独立生活和将来发展的一线可能。代价很大。”
No wonder Michael Chabon won SF awards for this novel. The alternate universe where the "Frozen Chosen" live is instantly believable and grabbing. And who can be more hard-boiled than the non-chess playing Landsman and his Bina? I lost the plot a bit in the latter half of the book.
  • He picks up the shot glass that he is currently dating, a souvenir of the World’s Fair of 1977.
  • Landsman drinks to medicate himself, tuning the tubes and crystals of his moods with a crude hammer of hundred-proof plum brandy. But the truth is that Landsman has only two moods: working and dead... He has the memory of a convict, the balls of a fireman, and the eyesight of a housebreaker. When there is crime to fight, Landsman tears around Sitka like a man with his pant leg caught on a rocket... The problem comes in the hours when he isn’t working, when his thoughts start blowing out the open window of his brain like pages from a blotter. Sometimes it takes a heavy paperweight to pin them down.
  • But this Lasker. He was like one of those sticks you snap, it lights up. You know? For a few hours. And you can hear broken glass rattling inside of it... Shedding the last of their fading glow on each other and listening to the sweet chiming of broken glass inside.
  • Night is an orange smear over Sitka, a compound of fog and the light of sodium-vapor streetlamps. It has the translucence of onions cooked in chicken fat.
  • In the end Landsman switches on the flash and notches it between his teeth. He hikes up his pants legs and gets down on his knees. Just to spite himself, because spiting himself, spiting others, spiting the world is the pastime and only patrimony of Landsman and his people.
  • a wretched place ruled by men united only in their resolve to keep out all but a worn fistful of small-change Jews.
  • “And don’t give them a hard time, even if they look like they could use one.”
  • grandmaster, and a character famous for having said “The blunders are all there on the board, waiting to be made.”
  • the hard-bitten, half-decrepit town of Sitka, capital of the old Russian Alaska colony. In drafty, tin-roofed huts and barracks, they underwent six months of intensive acclimatization by a crack team of fifteen billion mosquitoes working under contract with the U.S. Interior Department... the raucous frontier energy of downtown Sitka, the work crews of young Jewesses in their blue head scarves, singing Negro spirituals with Yiddish lyrics that paraphrased Lincoln and Marx.
  • “Your father played chess,” Hertz Shemets once said, “like a man with a toothache, a hemorrhoid, and gas.” He sighed, he moaned. He tugged in fits at the patchy remnant of his brown hair, or chased it with his fingers back and forth across his pate like a pastry chef scattering flour on a marble slab. The blunders of his opponents were each a separate cramp in the abdomen. His own moves, however daring, however startling and original and strong, struck him like successive pieces of terrible news,
  • By now they were all staunch Alaskan Jews, which meant they were utopians, which meant they saw imperfection everywhere they looked.
  • Ester-Malke worries he might envy her and Berko their successful program of breeding and their two fine sons. Landsman does, at times, with bitterness. But when she brings it up, he generally bothers to deny it.
  • the bedroom that had once served Meyer and Naomi’s father as Klein bottle for the infinite loop of his insomnia.
  • But to look at, he’s pure Tlingit. Tartar eyes, dense black hair, broad face built for joy but trained in the craft of sorrow.
  • Once more he feels a sharp nostalgia for the fair, for the heroic Jewish engineering of the Safety Pin (officially the Promise of Sanctuary Tower,
  • Bina accepts a compliment as if it’s a can of soda that she suspects him of having shaken... hope that his feelings about her, not that he still has any, of course, might turn to the universal gray of discipline.
  • She is getting old, and he is getting old, right on schedule, and yet as time ruins them, they are not, strangely enough, married to each other.
  • repeat the rash threats of yore does not, I assure you, exist, Detective Shemets,” the reporter says in his swift and preposterous Yiddish. “Evergreen and ripe with the sap of their original violence they remain.”.. Once again he lashes himself to the tiller of his Flying Dutchman version of the mother tongue.
  • “It takes a sour woman to make a good pickle,”
  • He rationalizes this with the thought that from the point of view of, say, God, all human confidence is an illusion and every intention a joke... So every year, it turned out, Uncle Hertz diverted up to half his operating budget to corrupt the people who had authorized it. He bought senators, baited congressional honeypots, and above all romanced rich American Jews whose influence he saw as critical to his plan.
  • The men are still caught up in their game, the way a pair of mountains gets caught up in a whiteout.
  • “When you play him, even though he wins every time, you feel you play better against him than with the assholes in this club,”
  • Now he looks shrunken, depleted, the king in the story reduced by the curse of eternal life to a cricket in the ashes of the hearth. Only the vaulting nose remains as testament to the former grandeur of his face.
  • But then a man not in control of his emotions would never get very far with the Réti Opening.
  • For an instant he handles the bones, horn, and leather of the old man’s hand.
  • Girls hobbled by long skirts go along braided arm in arm, raucous chains of Verbover girls vehement and clannish as schools of philosophers.
  • That’s how it goes for Berko Shemets in the District of Sitka when he breaks out the hammer and goes Indian. Fifty years of movie scalpings and whistling arrows and burning Conestogas have their effect on people’s minds. And then sheer incongruity does the rest.
  • “When it comes to marriage I like to let other people make the mistakes,” Landsman says. “My ex-wife, for example.”
  • call it an eruv. But somebody has to lay down those lines, survey the territory, maintain the strings and the poles, and guard the integrity of the make-believe walls and doors against weather, vandalism, bears, and the telephone company.
  • “No matter how powerful,” (Landsman riffs)... “every yid in the District is tethered by the leash of 1948. His kingdom is bound in its nutshell. His sky is a painted dome, his horizon an electrified fence. He has the flight and knows the freedom only of a balloon on a string.”
  • “Jesus Fucking Christ,” she says with that flawless hardpan accent of hers. It is an expression that always strikes Landsman as curious, or at least as something that he would pay money to see.”
  • But there was always a shortfall, wasn't there? Between the match that the Holy One, blessed be He, envisioned and the reality of the situation under the chuppah. Between commandment and observance, heaven and earth, husband and wife, Zion and Jew. They called that shortfall 'the world.' Only when Messiah came would the breach be closed, all separations, distinctions, and distances collapsed. Until then, thanks be unto His Name, sparks, bright sparks, might leap across the gap, as between electric poles. And we must be grateful for their momentary light.
  • The exaltation of understanding; then understanding's bottomless regret.
  • “Miracles prove nothing except to those whose faith is bought very cheap, sir.”
  • A Messiah who actually arrives is no good to anybody. A hope fulfilled is already half a disappointment.
  • It would require the brain strength of the eighteen greatest sages in history to reason through the arguments against and in favor of classifying the rebbe’s massive bottom as either a creature of the deep, a man-made structure, or an unavoidable act of God.
  • Tough break, to favor simple explanations in a world full of Jews.
  • As a foundation for partnership, mutual pity is not to be despised.
  • (Snow like broken pieces of daylight... silver plate tarnishing fast.)

"Lab Girl"

Jul. 25th, 2017 06:10 pm
I wish I could recall more from my high school biology classes.
  • A willow tree loads these used branches with reserves, fattens and strengthens them and then dehydrates their base such that they snap off cleanly and fall into the river. Carried away on the water, one out of millions of these sticks will wash up onto a bank and replant itself, and before long that very same tree is now growing elsewhere.
  • Can you imagine throwing away all of your possessions once a year because you are secure in your expectation that you will be able to replace them in a matter of weeks? These brave trees lay all of their earthly treasures on the soil, where moth and rust doth immediately corrupt. They know better than all the saints and martyrs put together exactly how to store next year’s treasure in Heaven, where the heart shall be also.
  • A very small minority of these fungi—just five thousand species—have strategically entered into a deep and enduring truce with plants. They cast their stringy webbing around and through the roots of trees, sharing the burden of drawing water into the trunk. They also mine the soil for rare metals, such as manganese, copper, and phosphorous, and then present them to the tree as precious gifts of the magi.
  • By suspending each leaf separately, the tree has stacked its surface area into a sort of ladder for light to fall down. Looking up, you notice that the leaves at the top of any tree are smaller, on average, than the leaves at the bottom. This allows sunlight to be caught near the base whenever the wind blows and parts the upper branches. Look again and you’ll notice that leaves low in the canopy are of a darker green; they contain more of the pigment that helps each leaf absorb sunshine, allowing them to harvest the weaker rays that penetrate shade. When building foliage, a tree must budget for each leaf individually and allocate for each position relative to the other leaves. A good business plan will allow our tree to triumph as the largest and longest-living being on your street. But it ain’t easy, and it ain’t cheap.
  • molecule, and within the bowl of its spoon-shaped structure sits one single precious magnesium atom. The amount of magnesium needed for enough chlorophyll to fuel thirty-five pounds of leaves is equivalent to the amount of magnesium found in fourteen One A Day vitamins, and it must ultimately dissolve out of bedrock, which is a geologically slow process. Magnesium, phosphorous, iron, and the many other micronutrients that our tree needs can be gained only from the extremely dilute solution that flows in between the tiny mineral grains within the soil. In order to accumulate all of the soil nutrients that thirty-five pounds of leaves require, our tree must first absorb and then evaporate at least eight thousand gallons of water from the soil.
  • Researchers generally love their calling to excess, and delight in nothing better than teaching others to love it also; as with all creatures driven by love, we can’t help but breed.
  • Vines cannot take over a healthy forest; they require a disturbance in order to take hold. Some gash has to create open soil, a hollow trunk, a sunny patch that a vine can come into. People can disturb like nothing else: we plow, pave, burn, chop, and dig. The edges and cracks of our cities support only one kind of plant: a weed, something that grows fast and reproduces aggressively.
  • Biologists don’t much study the desert, since plants represent three things to human society: food, medicine, and wood. You’ll never get any of those things from the desert. Thus a desert botanist is a rare scientist indeed and eventually becomes inured to the misery of her subjects.
  • During those strange days of its reawakening the plant lives off of pure concentrated sugar, an intense sustained infusion of sweetness, a year’s worth of sucrose coursing through its veins in just one day. This little plant has done the impossible: it has transcended the wilted brown of death.
  • FULL-BLOWN MANIA LETS YOU SEE the other side of death. Its onset is profoundly visceral and unexpected, no matter how many times you’ve been through it. It is your body that first senses the urgency of a new world about to bloom. Your vertebrae seem to detach from one another and you elongate as if toward the sun’s light.
  • One by one you disembowel the tapes, pulling out reels of shiny brown floss. A curly mess is all that remains from the sprawling ecstasy of those anguished high holidays.
  • I’ll keep describing how the world spins when mania is as strong and ever-present as gravity.
  • THE LITTLE TOWN OF SITKA is probably the most inviting place in Alaska.
  • Most VOC compounds don’t contain nitrogen, thus they are relatively cheap for the plant to produce and are therefore expendable.
  • Love and learning are similar in that they can never be wasted.
  • Three billion years of evolution have produced only one life form that can reverse this process and make our planet significantly less green. Urbanization is decolonizing the surfaces that plants painstakingly colonized four hundred million years ago... The amount of urban area in the United States is expected to double during the next forty years,
  • This frees us to make it as ugly, silly, unwieldy, and inefficient as we want to—we just need to improvise something that works for us. This is how scientific research instruments are built. The creative process born from these necessities gives rise to delightfully quirky creations, unique as their creators. Like all art, they are a product of their period and an attempt to address the issues of their age. Also like art, they appear outmoded and antiquated when viewed from within the future that they helped create.
  • The spaces between the cells are now filled with an ultra-pure distillate of cell water, so pure that there are no stray atoms upon which an ice crystal could nucleate and grow.
  • These trees do not grow during winter; they merely stand and ride planet Earth to the other side of the sun,
  • The discovery of trees that could live in the dark is akin to a discovery of humans that could live underwater.
  • These two organisms—the wasp and the fig—have enjoyed this arrangement for almost ninety million years, evolving together through the extinction of the dinosaurs and across multiple ice ages. Theirs is like any epic love story, in that part of the appeal lies in its impossibility... Such specificity is extremely rare in the plant world, so rare as to be hardly worth mentioning, except as a feel-good example of symbiosis between ecological soul mates.
  • Every living being on the Earth’s surface has been conscripted into a never-ending war over a total amount of water that equals less than one-thousandth of one percent of the planet’s total.
  • There is, however, one reliable act of parental generosity between the maple and its offspring. Each night beneath the ground, the most precious resource of all—water—moves up from the strong and out toward the weak, such that the sapling might live to fight another day.
  • Thus the initial planting of seedlings at the start of a forestry study represents a weary victory won by a stoic researcher with a strong sense of fatalism. This unique intellectual agony shapes the character of the tree experimentalist and selects for those with a religious devotion to science, patient with overtones of masochism.
  • “Why is everything so bloody-bleeding over here?” I launched into a discourse on the gradual contraction of medieval oaths invoking the Virgin Mother Mary’s menstrual blood and the seepage of Christ’s wounds,
  • palm trees are not really trees: they are something different. Inside their trunks you won’t find hard wood growing outward, new tissue added ring by ring. Instead you’ll find a jumble of spongy tissue, scattered instead of arranged. This lack of conventional structure is what gives the palm its flexibility
  • I am comforted by my suspicion that all my private maternal ecstasy is really nothing more than what every mother feels for her son.
  • Eventually it will require more nutrients to maintain the branches and roots that do not grow quite far out enough to capture those nutrients. Once it exceeds the limitations of its environment, it loses all. And this is why you must trim a tree periodically in order to preserve it. Because—as Marge Piercy first said—both life and love are like butter and do not keep: they both have to be made fresh every day.
  • wanted to make him know that he had friends in this world tied to him by something stronger than blood, ties that could never fade or dissolve. That he would never be hungry or cold or motherless while I still drew breath. That he didn’t need two hands, or a street address, or clean lungs, or social grace, or a happy disposition to be precious and irreplaceable. That no matter what our future held, my first task would always be to kick a hole in the world and make a space for him where he could safely be his eccentric self.
  • SOIL IS A FUNNY THING, in that it isn’t really anything in and of itself but is instead the product of two different worlds coming together. Soil is the naturally produced graffiti that results from tensions between the biological and geological realms.
  • Being paid to wonder seems like a heavy responsibility at times.
  • People don't know to make a leaf, but they know how to destroy one.

"Lab Girl"

Jul. 24th, 2017 05:58 pm
Last time I was so bowled over by a clear-eyed obsessive's account of her life was 'H is for Hawk'. Hope Jahren makes me look at trees differently now.
  • The average ocean plant is one cell that lives for about twenty days. The average land plant is a two-ton tree that lives for more than one hundred years. The mass ratio of plants to animals in the ocean is close to four, while the ratio on land is closer to a thousand.
  • Did you see something green? If you did, you saw one of the few things left in the world that people cannot make. What you saw was invented more than four hundred million years ago near the equator. Perhaps you were lucky enough to see a tree. That tree was designed about three hundred million years ago. The mining of the atmosphere, the cell-laying, the wax-spackling, plumbing, and pigmentation took a few months at most, giving rise to nothing more or less perfect than a leaf.
  • THERE IS NOTHING in the world more perfect than a slide rule. Its burnished aluminum feels cool against your lips, and if you hold it level to the light you can see God’s most perfect right angle in each of its corners.
  • In the cupboard by the door there was pH testing tape, which was like a magic trick only better because instead of just showing a mystery it also solved one: you could see the difference in color and thus pH between a drop of spit and a drop of water or root beer or urine in the bathroom but not blood because you can’t see through it (so don’t try).
  • He taught me that there is no shame in breaking something, only in not being able to fix it.

  • garden: efficiency and productivity. She favored sturdy, independent vegetables like Swiss chard and rhubarb, the ones that could be relied upon to yield in abundance and seemed only to thrive in response to frequent harvesting..; instead she preferred the radishes and carrots that could tend to their own needs quietly underground.
  • My mother believed that there was a right way and a wrong way to do everything, and that doing it wrong meant doing it over, preferably a few times.
  • She knew how to stitch a different tension into each of the buttons on a shirt, based on how often it would be called into use. She knew the best way to pick elderberries on a Monday such that their stems wouldn’t clog the old tin colander on Wednesday,
  • Being mother and daughter has always felt like an experiment that we just can’t get right... As much as I desperately wanted to be like my father, I knew that I was meant to be an extension of my indestructible mother: a do-over to make real the life that she deserved and should have had.
  • that my true potential had more to do with my willingness to struggle than with my past and present circumstances.
  • My laboratory is like a church because it is where I figure out what I believe. The machines drone a gathering hymn as I enter.
  • My laboratory is a place where I write. I have become proficient at producing a rare species of prose capable of distilling ten years of work by five people into six published pages, written in a language that very few people can read and that no one ever speaks. This writing relates the details of my work with the precision of a laser scalpel, but its streamlined beauty is a type of artifice, a size-zero mannequin designed to showcase the glory of a dress that would be much less perfect on any real person. My papers do not display the footnotes that they have earned,
  • A definitive dataset, made with integrity and interpreted honestly, is the most innocent thing in the world, but whenever we produce one, Bill and I feel like Bonnie and Clyde celebrating yet another clean getaway. “In your face, universe!”
  • No writer in the world agonizes over words the way a scientist does. Terminology is everything: we identify something by its established name, describe it using the universally agreed-upon terms, study it in a completely individual way, and then write about it using a code that takes years to master. When documenting our work, we “hypothesize” but never “guess”; we “conclude,” not just “decide.” We view the word “significant” to be so vague that it is useless but know that the addition of “highly” can signify half a million dollars of funding.
  • Science has taught me that everything is more complicated than we first assume, and that being able to derive happiness from discovery is a recipe for a beautiful life. It has also convinced me that carefully writing everything down is the only real defense we have against forgetting something important that once was and is no more, including the spruce tree that should have outlived me but did not.
  • I must have cracked thousands of seeds over the years, and yet the next day’s green never fails to amaze me. Something so hard can be so easy if you just have a little help. In the right place, under the right conditions, you can finally stretch out into what you’re supposed to be.
  • they discovered that their seedling had been waiting for them within a peat bog in China for no less than two thousand years. This tiny seed had stubbornly kept up the hope of its own future while entire human civilizations rose and fell.
  • Each beginning is the end of a waiting. We are each given exactly one chance to be. Each of us is both impossible and inevitable. Every replete tree was first a seed that waited.
  • Working in the hospital teaches you that there are only two kinds of people in the world: the sick and the not sick. If you are not sick, shut up and help. Twenty-five years later, I still cannot reject this as an inaccurate worldview.
  • my confidence ripened into boredom.
  • it came to me that as hospital workers, we were being paid to trail along behind Death as he escorted frail, wasted bodies over difficult miles, dragging their loved ones along with him. My job was to meet the traveling party at its designated way stations and faithfully provide fresh supplies for the journey.
  • “(Jean) Genet worked as a prostitute and robbed his clients, and then used the time in jail to write books,”
  • “Where is Armenia? I don’t even know,” I asked. “Most of it isn’t anywhere,” he answered. “That’s kind of the problem.”
  • Folded within the embryo are the cotyledons: two tiny ready-made leaflets, inflatable for temporary use. They are as small and insufficient as the spare tire that is not intended to take you any farther than the nearest gas station.
  • The leaves of the world comprise countless billion elaborations of a single, simple machine designed for one job only—a job upon which hinges humankind. Leaves make sugar. Plants are the only things in the universe that can make sugar out of nonliving inorganic matter... Veins bring water from the soil to the leaf, where it is torn apart using light. The energy produced from this tearing apart of water is what glues sugars together after they are fixed from the air.
  • cactus. It was this new idea that allowed a new kind of plant to grow preposterously large and live long in a dry place where it was also the only green thing around to eat for miles—an absurdly inconceivable success. One new idea allowed the plant to see a new world and draw sweetness out of a whole new sky.
  • Each grain of salt in a saltshaker is a perfect cube when viewed up close. Grind one grain into a fine powder and you have shattered it into millions of tiny, perfect cubes.
  • source. I looked forward to my analyses with the same happy anticipation one brings to a baseball game: anything might happen, but it will probably take a long time.
  • I was the only person in an infinite exploding universe who knew that this powder was made of opal. In a wide, wide world, full of unimaginable numbers of people, I was—in addition to being small and insufficient—special. I was not only a quirky bundle of genes, but I was also unique existentially, because of the tiny detail that I knew about Creation, because of what I had seen and then understood.
  • Nothing in the world exposes human helplessness and folly quite like a tree that will not bloom.
  • It is easy to become besotted with a willow. The Rapunzel of the plant world,
"A Whole New Ball Game" / D. T. Max
__ "They can make a movie faster than we can make a toy," Berberian jokes. <> Like the Sphero, the BB-8 had whimsical touches.

"Feel Me" / Adam Gopnik
  • There were so many things to vary! But finally one pattern emerged: a sinusoidal envelope, modulating at one hertz, that fits within the biological range of rhythm and change. Tighten the wave, and tingle becomes touch. It may be coincidence, but that wave, the one that communicates touch, is just around the rhythm of a heartbeat, a sort of essential bodily beat.”
  • For itch we have very dedicated behavior. It’s really cool. We inject a chemical into a face. If it’s painful, the animals use a front paw to gently rub it. If you inject an itchy substance, they use a hind leg to scratch. Almost always animals use their hind paw to scratch. So we can tell if they are itchy or painful.”
  • Even more, the experiments suggest an odd asymmetry between the two systems. You can trade pain for itch, Dong points out: that’s why mice and men both scratch. But it won’t work the other way around... A signature of itch is that it’s specific to the skin. Your bones can ache, but they can’t itch.
  • Kuchenbecker says. “It’s like recording a certain natural sound, like a waterfall, and then being able to generate a synthetic sound that sounds the same but goes on forever and never repeats, so it’s not just a looped recording. The trick is that we constantly change the properties of the waveform to match the exploration conditions, like adjusting how fast the waterfall seems to be flowing. And it creates a fluid, moving, three-dimensional illusion of texture.” Choose your texture, drag the tool across nothing, and you feel touch plus time, which is all that texture is.
  • Pressure is tone, and texture melody, but touch presses itself on us most urgently at the extremities, in the experience of pain and of sexual pleasure.
  • A key to being embodied in this way is tactile experience—what we touch, whom we touch, how many we touch, and why we find them touching. Grasping, hugging, striking, playing, caressing, reaching, scratching backs, and rubbing rears: these are not primitive forms of communication. They are the fabric of being conscious. The work of the world is done by handling it. We live by feel.
Alexandra Kleeman: When you seek out - or seek to avoid - your own reflection, the modern city becomes a hall of mirrors... Your own face runs rampant through the world and, like a word repeated too many times, begins to lose its reference.

"Play Ground" / Alexandra Lange
__ "Ecology in Holland is in grids," Geuze said. "Every frog in Holland is in a line, because all the water is linear."
__ "Olmsted manipulated the perspective in a way that Americans have the illusion of the wilderness," Geuze said. "Park history is related to illusions, and is not far from the realm of poetry and painting.
__ Every inch of an artificial hill costs tens of thousands of dollars.

Louis Menand: The irony.. is that sports is essentially anesthetized labor. It is the spectacle of men and women exerting all their mental and physical powers to produce... nothing.

"One Man's Trash" / David Owen
"In Nelson I see an outsider curatorial genius,"

"The New Harpoon" / Tom Kizzia
an open graveyard, with skeletal remains arrayed for miles atop funerary racks of bleached whalebones - essential building materials in a land without trees.

"Knives Out" / Ian Parker
__ what counts as fun in middle age- loyalties divided between abandon and an early night. His expressions of enthusiasm often take the form of wariness swept away
__ Experienced for the first time, this covert cosseting feels slightly melancholy, like an episode of Cold War fiction involving futile charades and a likely defenestration.
__ expensive, stage-managed tasting menus with scant choice: Amanda Cohen.. told me that this style of eating can remind her of the fact that powerful people have been known to enjoy recreational powerlessness in bondage clubs.

Burkhard Bilger: (In "Der Struwwelpeter," the most famous German children's book of that era, a character's thumbs are chopped off because he won't stop sucking them.) One of Bode's respondents remembered her mother scolding her after a bombing raid: "Why can't you be happy for once? Just be glad you're alive."

"Patina" / Ian Frazier
__ Even in places nobody can see, the sculpture isn't blank, it's richly detailed - the strands of hair on the top of her head, the bun, the soles of her sandals... Patina is a crystalline structure; it's not opaque like paint. You're looking into it.
__ When you have Statue of Liberty green on the brain, you see it all around you, especially on infrastructure. Being aware of the color somehow makes the city's bindings and conduits and linkages stand out as if they'd been injected with radioactive dye.

"Wild Man" / Nick Paumgarten
  • He was first.. a climber, a renowned pioneer of rock and ice routes around the world... Then a blacksmith: he designed, and made by hand, a host of ingenious new climbing tools.. Next, itinerant thrill-seaker.. Finally, eco-warrior.
  • Their first catalogue, in 1972, opened iwth a clean-climbing manifesto, a rockhead's version of leave-no-trace. A gambit for better gear had begun to extend into an argument for a better world.
  • The Do Boys.. included.. Tom Brokaw.
  • "Whatever you touch first in the freezer you eat. It's mostly game. I touched a goose. Watch your teeth." There was no buckshot in mine.
  • The (fishing) line is made of horsetail hair - from a stallion, since mares pee on their own tails.
"Eat, Memory" / Jane Kramer
__ The truth is that I remember nothing about those oysters or, in fact, about the rest of the meal, perhaps because later that night I conceived a beautiful daughter, somewhat hurriedly, in the middle of a hotel fire that we then managed to flee with two book manuscripts intact. How could a meal compete with that?
Bertrand de Jouvenel: "There is a tyranny in the womb of every utopia."

Peter Schjeldahl: Fragonard could do, with terrific panache, anything he liked, providing that other people - and he knew just who they were - liked it, too.

"Presumptive" / Thomas Mallon
  • In (Hilary's) case, fifteen years of jury-rigged self-fulfillment cannot make up for the previous twenty-five of self-suppression and worse... She is always still with all the other compromised, renovated, and discarded Hillaries.
  • E.M.Forster memorably said that "the test of a round character is whether it is capable of surprising in a convincing way."
  • When the oyster spread the first real layer of nacre on the grain of sand, and the great bivalve that is the Donald puckered and whispered, "Someday, I swear to God, I'm going to do it"?
Part police procederal, part romance, part writing lesson, with a side of academic skullduggery. All what Richard Russo does best, to bring us up to date with his beloved "Nobody's Fool" characters.
  • after accidentally discharging his weapon, the judge had fixed him with his trademark baleful stare for what had felt like an eternity before turning his attention to Ollie North, the chief back then. “You know my thoughts on arming morons,” he told Ollie. “You arm one, you have to arm them all. Otherwise it’s not even good sport.
  • In fact Flatt had exhibited little affection of any kind, except for an abstract concept he called “small-town justice,” which he claimed to dispense. How that differed from other kinds of justice Raymer never had the temerity to ask, but he suspected it meant “likely to be reversed in a higher court.”
  • What leads you to believe they’ll be interested in any of this? (Well, if they weren’t, why had she assigned this subject to begin with? Did she imagine he was interested?)
  • But her most mysterious and baffling questions always had to do with the speaker. That side of Raymer’s triangle was always so tiny, and the other two so elongated, that the resulting geometric shape resembled a boat ramp. On each of his essays she wrote Who are you? as if Douglas Raymer weren’t printed clearly at the top of the first page... Raymer had tried his best to comprehend the old lady’s triangle, though it remained as deeply mysterious to him as the Holy Trinity’s Father, Son and Holy Ghost. At least that was billed as a profound mystery that you were meant to contemplate, even while knowing that it was beyond human comprehension—a great comfort to Raymer, since it was certainly beyond his.
  • A uniform, he then discovered, was the next best thing to an identity,
  • Raymer repeated what Charice had told him about how these remotes work, implying that his interest was official, that he himself was concerned because “your remote could open my garage door and let you into my house.” “Except I wasn’t pointing mine at your house. You were pointing yours at mine.” “I was speaking hypothetically,” Raymer told him. “I wasn’t,” the man said.
  • The cruel arithmetic of their friendship was such that while Sully was Rub’s only friend, Rub was one of Sully’s many... Indeed, every time someone in his friend’s inner circle died or moved away, it was as if Sully himself was proportionately diminished, so there was never a net gain.
  • That rare lawyer who was less interested in law than justice, Wirf took even joking references to the latter seriously and could always be counted on for both perspective and sound judgment... “When I’m gone,” he’d told Sully more than once, “you’re going to discover how hard it is to find another one-legged lawyer who’s always in a good mood,” and this had proven true.
  • Poor people concluded that the deck was stacked against them, rich ones that a reshuffle would ruin both them and civilization.
  • What appealed to him, as near as he could tell, was its necessity. That was the thing about the work he and Rub used to do: nasty as it was, it all needed to be done. And once completed, it provided satisfaction, and even pleasure, in inverse proportion to the hardship endured.
  • “Into the grave,” Charice repeated, apparently willing to concede the truth of what he was telling her but still unable to wrap her mind around what had happened. “Like…on top of the casket?
  • “One minute you were standing there and the next it was—timber! You went into that hole like it was dug to your exact specifications. You were just gone. You know like when you try to stuff a cat in a bag? How there’s always a leg sticking out?
  • Carl rotated the schematic, considering it from a different angle, and offered it to the mayor. “Show me on this where there’s a power line.” “Why would I show you on that when I can take you to the actual cable your guys just jacked the shit out of.
  • “Well,” Gus sighed, “several things have to happen. First, some imbecile has to sever the collar ties that secure the walls to the roof.” “Why would anybody do that?” “They were working on the penthouse units, is my understanding. They meant to retie them later.” “Still,” Jerome said, “the floor joists—” “Those were compromised a couple weeks ago in order to construct the interior stairwells... “Boom,” said Gus, puffing out his cheeks. “Maybe that’s the lesson. You can skate on the first idiocy, and maybe even the second, but the third brings down the wrath of God.” He regarded Raymer then as if he might be the physical embodiment of the principle he’d just articulated.
  • (In war, as in the courtroom, never ask a question you don’t already know the answer to.)
  • “Chief?” she said. “I ever tell you about the tattoo on my ass?” “No, Charice. That I would’ve remembered.” “Butterfly. Tiny little thing. If you don’t let me out from behind this switchboard, it’s gonna be a pterodactyl by the time I’m forty.
  • Fear is a poor fuel, thin and easily burned through, even when there’s a lot of it.
  • What bearing did mere facts have when it came to how you saw yourself? If Sully never thought of himself as seventy, even on days like today when he felt eighty, why shouldn’t a lonely married woman who read romance novels every night think of herself as a girl?
  • At first he might credit Rub as his source, but as he grew more confident, he’d relate the story as if he himself had been the sole eyewitness. With Sully’s best efforts, Rub sometimes wished he’d been there to enjoy the events his friend was describing, until he remembered he actually had been.
  • Their days would be full of long hours, plenty of time for Rub to tell Sully whatever he wanted, and Sully, chastened, would be devoted to getting him back on his feet. Well…foot. Okay, Rub wasn’t crazy about the idea of losing a leg, but if that was the price of friendship, what choice did he have but to pay it? Sully’s pal Wirf had gotten along fine on one leg, and if he could be happy on just the one, then Rub supposed he could, too.
  • At some point, though, certain facts, as hard and uncomfortable as the severed nub of tree limb he was sitting on, began to intrude on his pleasant dismemberment fantasy... And even if he somehow avoided this fate and recovered, he’d be chasing Sully all over Bath on one leg instead of two.
  • Rotten wood, even when painted over, has the soft, porous feel of a badly told lie,
  • The kettle’s dome, which might’ve killed him, landed with a dull thud behind him, then rolled down into the ravine. Even the rain of ashes and the last of the burning embers wouldn’t have been terribly problematic if he hadn’t been looking up. But of course he was.
  • It was as if mundane and mechanistic things were suddenly revealed to have been specifically designed with an eye toward maximum cruelty and guaranteed suffering. Bad enough that our relationships with the living should always be undermined by fear and venality and narcissism and a hundred other things, but it seemed especially awful that we couldn’t be faithful even to the dead. We put them in the ground with expressions of love and admiration and eternal devotion, promising never to forget, though then we did, or tried to.
  • “Also the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition and the Vietnam War,” Carl continued. “Not one of those clusterfucks could truly commence until somebody said, What the hell. We’ve come this far.”
  • Because it was something the way things kept grinding with no apparent reason or need, indifferent to life and death and all else, too.
  • That said, the mechanical world probably wasn’t so different from its living inhabitants, most of whom, Sully included, went about their lives, most days, taking it all for granted. His own happiness, such as it was, had always seemed rooted in his willingness to let each second, minute, hour and day predict the next, today no different from yesterday except in its particulars, which didn’t amount to much.
  • “People generally do notice things,” Kurt continued, “especially when you direct their attention, but they act on very little. Then they wonder why their lives are so full of regret.”
  • judging from the photo, he might as easily have been climbing up, a home-invading burglar. His bruised, swollen face looked like some sort of visual prediction of the damage done by a fall that hadn’t yet occurred. The caption read: What’s up, Chief?
  • “I don’t, Roy. And I’ve tried diets. They don’t work. I bet Janey doesn’t even have to diet.” “I’m not gonna tell you again about not sayin’ her name.” “But that’s what I mean, Roy. She gets to be her and be all lucky and I don’t even get to say her name. And I’m the one bein’ nice to you.
  • When it came to role-playing, Gert, as everyone knew, was without equal. All his life he’d been a sucker for similar conundrums. He leaned one elbow onto the bar to get comfortable. “My car got crushed yesterday, so for me running’s a problem... Gert’s eyes glazed over and crossed slightly as he dove deeper into his role as violent moron. “I’m scared and they gave me painkillers at the hospital, so I’m not thinking straight. I fall back on what I know."
  • Then Dougie reached out with Raymer’s hand, picked up the snake, returned it to the box and secured the lid. Smith was rubbing his eyebrow, which was already ballooning impressively, and looked at Raymer with something like embarrassment. “Fuck,” he said. “I knew better than that."
  • “I know. You said already you’re in love with me.” “You keep leaving out the maybe,” he told her.
  • It was a shame, in fact, that there was only one belligerent asshole in the car, because it would’ve felt good to coldcock a few more. The static in his ears was almost as loud as the honking had been, but as he went back to his car he found himself happily humming a tune from a couple decades earlier and recalled the lyric: I’d rather be a hammer than a nail.
Our ethnic bluestocking's progress through New York's more rarified social spheres is a bit too make-believe,  ("On the morning of Friday, July first, I had a low-paying job at a waning publisher and a dwindling circle of semi-acquaintances. On Friday, July eighth, I had one foot in the door of Condé Nast and the other in the door of the Knickerbocker Club—the professional and social circles that would define the next thirty years of my life.") and it's followed by some romantic plot twists that were a shade lurid. Still, it had its moment with the paper plane flying episode. ("Dear Sir, If you would be so kind, please play us / your interpretation of "It's De-Lovely". / For is it not de-lightful to-nightful? / Your Moonstruck Neighbors")
  • But for me, dinner at a fine restaurant was the ultimate luxury. It was the very height of civilization. For what was civilization but the intellect's ascendancy out of the doldrums of necessity (shelter, sustenance and survival) into the ether of the finely superfluous (poetry, handbags and haute cuisine)?
  • Yes, they’re formulaic. But that’s one of the reasons they are so satisfying. With every character, every room, every murder weapon feeling at once newly crafted and familiar as rote ( the role of the postimperialist uncle from India here being played by the spinster form South Wales, and the mismatched bookends standing in for the jar of fox poison on the upper shelf of the gardener’s shed). Mrs. Christie doles out her little surprises at the carefully calibrated pace of a nanny dispensing sweets to the children in her care.
  • but when a person loses the ability to take pleasure in the mundane - in the cigarette on the stoop or the gingersnap in the bath - she has probably put herself in unnecessary danger. What my father was trying to tell me, as he neared the conclusion of his own course, was that this risk should not be treated lightly: One must be prepared to fight for one's simple pleasures and to defend them against elegance and erudition and all manner of glamorous enticements.
  • I knew too well the nature of life's distractions and enticements--how the piecemeal progress of our hopes and ambitions commands our undivided attention, reshaping the ethereal into the tangible, and commitments into compromises.
  • "Most people have more needs than wants. That's why they live the lives they do. But the world is run by those whose wants outstrip their needs".
  • Be careful when choosing what you're proud of--because the world has every intention of using it against you.
  • Anyone can buy a car or a night on the town. Most of us shell our days like peanuts. One in a thousand can look at the world with amazement. I don't mean gawking at the Chrysler Building. I'm talking about the wing of a dragonfly. The tale of the shoeshine. Walking through an unsullied hour with an unsullied heart.
  • How little imagination and courage we show in our hatreds. If we earn fifty cents an hour, we admire the rich and pity the poor, and we reserve the full force of our venom for those who make a penny more or a penny less. That's why there isn't a revolution every ten years.
  • From the end of the pier he could see the city skyline in its entirety - the whole staggered assembly of townhouses and warehouses and skyscrapers stretching from Washington Heights to the Battery. Nearly every light in every window in every building seemed to be shimmering and tenuous - as if powered by the animal spirits within - by the arguments and endeavours, the whims and elisions. But here and there, scattered across the mosaic, were also the isolated windows that seemed to burn a little brighter and more constant - the windows lit by those few who acted with poise and purpose.
    He scuffed out his cigarette and decided to dwell out in the cold a little while longer.
    For however inhospitable the wind, from this vantage point Manhattan was simply so improbable, so wonderful, so obviously full of promise - that you wanted to approach it for the rest of your life without ever quite arriving.
  • I cracked two eggs in a bowl and whisked them with grated cheese and herbs. I poured them into a pan of heated oil and covered them with a lid. Something about heating the oil and putting on the lid makes the eggs puff upon contact. And they brown without burning.
  • I have no doubt that they were the right choices for me. And at the same time, I know that right choices by definition are the means by which life crystallizes loss.
  • (like phosphorescence supporting a night swimmer)
What builds or tears down our allegiance to a given novel? I have mixed feelings about Amor Towles's debut novel. The one-liners, the repartees, and cameos of a bygone New York are certainly winsome:
  • an old fashioned Irish house (GOOD ALE, RAW ONIONS, NO LADIES)
  • This city where all things beautiful are welcomed and measured if, if not immediately adopted, then at least tried on for size.
  • If New York was a many-cogged machine, then lack of judgement was the grease that kept the gears turning for the rest of us.
  • world-weariness, as if a string of successes have towed along an ugly truth or two.
  • Bred with just the right amount of fresh air, roughhousing, and ignorance, these primitive blondes set out from the cornfields looking like starlight with limbs.
  • “I think we all have some parcel of the past which is falling into disrepair or being sold off piece by piece. It’s just that for most of us, it isn’t an orchard; it’s the way we’ve thought about something or someone."
  • (Ukrainian vaudeville bar), where they could keep a watchful eye on one another. In such proximity, time slowly strengthened their sentiments, while diluting their resolve.
  • The one thing for certain at Belmont was that on Wednesday at 5:00 A.M., there was no place for the common man. This was like the circles of Dante's Inferno - populated with men of varied sins, but also with the shrewdness and devotion of the damned... Hands grip cups where the absence of steam said the cup was filled with liquor.
  • St. Patrick’s on Fifth Avenue and Fiftieth Street is a pretty powerful example of early nineteenth-century American Gothic... The stained-glass windows were made by craftsmen from Chartres. Tiffany designed two of the altars and a Medici designed the third. And the Pieta in the southeast corner is twice the size of Michelangelo’s. In fact, the whole place is so well made that as the Good Lord sees about His daily business, He can pass right over St. Patrick’s confident that those inside will take pretty good care of themselves.
  • As a quick aside, let me observe that in moments of high emotion....if the next thing you're going to say makes you feel better, then it's probably the wrong thing to say. This is one of the finer maxims that I've discovered in life. And you can have it, since it's been of no use to me.
  • But there are tens of thousands of butterflies: men and women like Eve with two dramatically different colorings—one which serves to attract and the other which serves to camouflage—and which can be switched at the instant with a flit of the wings.
  • Because when some incident sheds a favorable light on an old and absent friend, that's about as good a gift as chance intends to offer.
  • If we only fell in love with people who were perfect for us, then there wouldn't be so much to fuss about love in the first place.
  • - You're rather well read for a working-class girl.
    - Really? I've found that all my well-read friends are from the working classes.
    - Oh my. Why do you think that is? The purity of the poverty?
    - No. It's just that reading is the cheapest form of entertainment.
    - Sex is the cheapest form of entertainment.
    - Not in this house.
  • I suppose we don't rely on comparison enough to tell us whom it is that we are talking to. We give people the liberty of fashioning themselves in the moment - a span of time that is so much more manageable, stageable, controllable than is a lifetime.
  • He always looked his best, I thought to myself, when circumstances called for him to be a boy and a man at the same time.
  • Slurring is the cursive of speech...
  • That's the problem with living in New York. You've got no New York to run away to.
  • Really. Is there anything nice to be said about other people's vacations?
  • Old times, as my father used to say: If you're not careful, they'll gut you like a fish.
  • New Eglanders respect all aspects of money but its use.
  • Hiker and a talker. This is a reason of self-discovery.
  • elbow to elbow, ethos to ethos / a rifle you can wear to your wedding.
萧如瑟的文笔也是异端,把这么狗血的剧情都hold 住了。 还是太虐,有HE的番外暂时没力气看。

  • 那柔曼飘舞的,并不是珊瑚,而是女子湛青的长发。那女子卧在珊瑚中,懒懒抬手,以指尖自海水中搅出丝缕缠绕的澄碧冷蓝。女子将澄碧经线一线一线横展于面前,以冷蓝为纬,纤指穿梭,把那些颜色纺作一幅几近无形的轻绡,姿态宛妙,犹如采撷无数梦幻空花。
  • 男子静默了片刻。“做我的儿子,除了安逸,什么都有。做我的女儿,却是除安逸之外什么都没有。”   “那我要做你的儿子。”男子胸前干燥柔软的衣料,有着微淡的香气。海市将头埋得更深,觉得身上的筋肉一点点松懈下来,声音逐渐模糊,沉沉睡去。
  • 浓碧的水流穿过指间与发间,万千银砂般闪亮细碎的气泡摇曳着汩汩上浮。
  • 这方海市身穿大典朝服,少年身姿英挺,肤色蜜金,眉宇秀丽仿如女子,又听说是个得势太监的养子,直看得张承谦心灰。官少爷见得不少,没有一个出息,已不抱什么指望,只求他不要死在边关教他们难做,也就很好了。这一路来,倒觉出这少年心性坚忍,什么苦都吃得,像借了旁人的躯壳还魂似的,毫不爱惜自己,
  • 那年头的时势,好似壮阔无情的怒涛巨流,史官笔下不动声色溅起一星细浪,便是几千几万条人命。
  • 回到营中的时候,已看不见一个奔跑的迦满孩子了。那天晚上,营内的迦满人久久不见同胞进关,既而发觉大军上山,哗乱起来,终于全体断送了性命。可是,即便不哗乱,他们亦没有活路。
  • 顶不住了。他听见空气中有个声音在耳语,轻微而宏大的声音,无所不在,如一阵瘴风在混战的人群中穿行。那是人们的心声,脱离了肉体与意识,汇集成命运的低语。男人们持刀的手已失去知觉,臂膊麻木,虎口裂至见骨,他们只是不停地砍,砍,砍。
  • 造化小儿,你如此弄人。可是为什么——青年抹了抹面颊上沾染的血迹,直直昂首望向云破天开的星空深处。冷诮的眼神,不像是要寻求答案,倒像是在挑衅——为什么我非得听命于你不可呢?
  • 二十五年人生,前十七年是水波上神光离合的浮华倒影,后八年却是狰狞杂错的刀痕,一刀一刀地,将他那一颗人心尽数斩碎。重返紫宸殿时,眼角已刻上纹路,二十五岁的鬓角,也居然霜华斑驳。
  • 夏季衣物本来不尚刺绣,多取印花织染之术,惟恐绣纹厚重,使穿者溽热不适,衣物重垂。若针脚稀薄,袖裾固然飘逸,却又失了刺绣本身一番浮凸玲珑的好处。这衣裳绣工却不寻常,针脚细密,绝无堆叠板结,绣工巧如天孙,更因使新缫的原色桑蚕丝挑绣,光泽润滑,自然有了浮凸之感,触手却依然如清风流泻,不滞不涩。好一个柘榴姑娘,看这衣裳手工,即便是在禁中织造坊内也是一等一的,想见其人,该是何等灵秀剔透。
  • “心里若是有了什么人,便找个空隙销了军籍,改回女儿模样,回霁风馆住上一年半载,义父去替你说合。”他微笑地说。他亦知道自己忍心,看着眼前那一张天然清艳的面孔神色逐渐哀戚,他只是微笑着说下去,如少年征战时候,在沙场上将刀送入敌人胸膛,深一寸,更深一寸,手下分明觉出骨肉劈裂,一拔刀,血雾便要喷溅出来似的。他却只是微笑着说下去。“即便是王公子弟,也手到擒来。”
  • 那塞外平川冬夏无尽更迭,一年到尾皆是飞沙走石的日子,只有夏季短短三四个月里牧草疯长,迫得草原上的人们只能纵马奔驰,跑在豺狼的前头,跑在日子的前头,跑在暴雪严霜的前头,跑在死的前头,跑得停不下来。天赐予草原之民的,就只有那样严苛的生涯,可是在这样的日子中草原之民依然保有他们的游戏歌咏之心。他们坦然地活着,将生命视作愿赌服输的一局骑射摔角,迟缓者死,犹疑者死,衰弱者死,技艺不如人者死,毫无怨怼。
  • 那茶碗早已为濯缨握碎,只是被手掌生生箍住一刻之久,施力极巧,是以薄脆碎片之间如刀锋互切,却密合得滴水未漏。那筋络分明修长美丽的手渐渐展开,茶碗亦随之分裂为六七片,清茶薄瓷,在月色下闪耀着剔透的光,纷纷落入霜平湖中。
  • 重烟楼台十里。无数青金琉璃瓦的檐顶在月光下起伏连绵成一片静默的碧海,浪尖上偶然一颗金砂闪烁,是吞脊兽眼中点的金睛。
  • 夏日花事盛极,已到了强弩之末的时分。风骏过处,青天下扬起一路落花。濯缨一鞭递一鞭地抽着,只想着早一刻回到宫中也是好的——柘榴,柘榴。<...> 此别经年,今生亦未必可期。她的脾性是端正剔透不劳人挂心的那一种,他知道,无需他叮咛多添衣、加餐饭、少思虑,仔细珍重种种种种,柘榴亦能将她自己安排妥当,然而总是要听她亲口答应了他,才算是就此别过,便要等待,也总有这一句叮咛的念想。
  • 小院内静寂欲死,乱红飞渡,任性零乱得像是也知道它们从此便无人收管似的。    自正午至日暮。天色层层染染,一笔笔添重靛蓝,著上艳橙,又晕散了绯紫,终于黑透了。
  • 宫内用的是特制落地灯笼,隔十五步便安放一个。灯笼约一人半高,长鼓形,均是整张白牛皮蒙制,不使针线缝合,用以煅压收口的黄金亦打造成空花宝相纹,内里安有河络工匠造出的精钢灯盏,燃鲸脂蜡与剑麻芯,少烟少热,明亮耐久。这上百座灯,使得金城宫中从此没有了影子,一切行止无从遁形。
  • “翼垂图南,这召风之术都说是绝迹世间,原来传人却在蛮族。”帝旭似是感叹,又似是欣喜。“鉴明,活着倒还有些意思。”
  • 那伊瓦内惶急扭头,却已不及。一道流丽的金翠光芒急划而来,自他大张的嘴内穿入上颚,直透脑髓,瞳孔立时散开。血与涎水混杂着淌下嘴角,满口里是精工镶嵌的柘榴石与橄榄石璎珞。
  • 因多年不见阳光的缘故,方诸少年时麦色的肌肤褪成了苍青的白。那袒露着的肩膊上,密密杂错着殷紫的浅白的大大小小伤痕——形如铜钱贯穿肩背的是箭伤,纵横浮凸的是刀伤,黑紫永难消褪的,是火伤与冻伤。
  • 濯缨于海市是兄长朋党,可豪饮论剑齐驱并驾,亲如一胞同出。方诸却是她的师,她的父,她的友,是她混沌世界里开天辟地的电与光。她原知道她与他是不能的,亦没有奢望过什么。不问前尘,不顾后路,杀人如麻只为得他一句称许,结果,却换得了这样一个下场。
  • 草原的黄昏分外炽烈艳丽。天际垒起万状云堡,金乌未沉,冰轮已然东升,日月星辰皆明媚硕大,与关内所见的天穹竟似是全然两样。夏草芃茂,高与马背相齐,夕阳下,眼见得那离离之草如赤金的波涛,自广袤远方一浪浪涌动而来。
  • “想不到……这老狐狸。”年轻男子收起了一贯的嬉笑表情。“我们费尽心思拣选的两只上好苍隼,反而成了他局中的踏脚石。现在可好,这方濯缨投身关外,因身负刺杀徵朝皇帝的死罪,鹄库庶民非但不疑心于他,更当他是个忍辱负重十五年的少年英杰。方诸这一手算盘,呵,打得实在精细。”
  • 御驾出城冬狩之日,永安、永乐两大道与承稷门照例不许庶民通行,路旁馔饮买卖商肆一概歇业。五十里积雪大道两侧张设着一丈高的连绵锦幛,为防车辇打滑,路面更洒有匀细海沙,宽广平直澄黄洁净,有如足金铺陈。永安大道上五色衣冠仪仗自成鲜明方阵,相衔而行,一时旌旗冠盖遮天蔽日。
  • 她早该知道,幸福不会来得如此轻易。他是何等绝情无义的男人,怎能奢望他独对她一人真心以待。他那样轻易便舍弃了濯缨,又怎么不能舍弃了她?    然而奇怪的是,她不愤怒,亦不悲伤了。许多年来,他的瞳孔内仿佛始终有面镜子,隔绝内心,只是将外界投映的一切冷冷反射回去。可是那一瞬间,镜面劈开一道裂痕,她深刻清晰地望进了他的眼底,浓烈沉潜的窅黑在那双秀长的眼里沸腾翻搅着,却被死死按捺住,不能夺眶而出。
  • “好一着置之死地而后生。”昶王轻哂,“若那姑娘落在我的手里,怕是真能对方诸有所挟制——也就难怪他宁可将这样一个美人拱手送给皇帝。”静了片刻,又道:“那方濯缨也是个棘手角色,如今大雪封关,亦不知左菩敦王那边情势如何。”
  • 五彩丝绦绾成同心结,左右系起两只满盛醇酿的错金云纹双瓠酒爵。两对金镶头牙箸亦是如此,齐齐整整系了丝绦,连在一处。    百子石榴团花、紫苏余甘子、碧糯佳藕、缕金香药、瑶柱虾脍、鸳鸯炸肚、双百合炊鹌子,满桌吉祥彩头的菜肴未下一箸,眼看着一点点散失了热气,原样冷透。
  • 他幽冷的眼逼近了海市,“六百七十多年来,清海公几乎没有一个得享天年。战死、病死、溺死、毒死、雷殛而死、无故暴毙,死状千奇百怪,满门孤儿寡母,为什么?——因为,方氏一家本不是战将,他们是秘术世家,是我褚氏的柏奚。”
  • “小公子您也知道,这两年为着黄金一事,周边诸国多有不满。除了迦满与鹄库正在交战,无暇顾及之外,其余的都已多半暗地里有了动作。”硝子低声道。从硝子那些言语中,海市仿佛能听见那个人的声音正冷冷重叠于后——嗓音醇净平缓,唇边的旧刀痕一定正微微扬起,成为一抹笑意。“南方各国皆视鲛人为航海通商之守护神祗,我国中若有鲛人守护,多少能有慑服之效。仪王之乱平靖尚不足二十年,眼下正值民间金铢筹算混乱,只要有数月的外征内乱,国体崩毁百姓涂炭之大势即难以挽回。难道小公子要犯下这六千万人命的罪愆么?”    “你错了。”海市昂然地扬起头,冷冷睨视着硝子,仿佛是在对硝子身后的那个幻影说道,“何必自欺欺人?将六千万人拖下深渊,那只能是皇帝的罪愆。”
  • 帝旭的眼里,逐渐浮现一贯的魔魅神情,“如果把天下的刀剑都铸为犁铧、兵书都化为粪肥,会不会从此便太平些?——那不行。人天生便知道争执仇杀,不过是因为杀的人多了,才讲究起技法与效率,终于有了兵书与刀剑。怎么办?”
  • 那十年,他从孩童成长为青年,像从沙漠中脱困的焦渴旅人需要很多很多的水,他需要很多很多的权势,否则夜间便不能安眠。
  • 紫宸殿的重檐庑殿顶上风势浩大,并肩站立其上的二人衣袂飘舞,直欲飞去。街衢纵横如棋盘,屋宇如豆,广袤帝都尽收眼底,直到视线为黯岚山脉所遮挡。
  • 黑白棋子错落于翡翠棋枰,势力消长,侵吞倾轧,永远困囿于经纬纵横之间,是命运巨手下朝生暮死的蜉蝣。半枰残棋间,数十年人生隐约峥嵘。
  • 那自由奔驰于草原的蛮族少年,是从他双臂中放出的鹰隼,亦将会是君临瀚州的王者。而海市——念及于此,另一道劈裂的疼痛撕开了他的胸膛。那英姿飒爽的少女将回到尘土飞扬的人间,结婚生子,在平凡日子的间隙中,偶尔怀想起他,又或许会将他全部忘却。终其一生,她不会知道他是如何珍爱她。如射手珍爱自己的眼睛,如珠蚌珍爱双壳中唯一的明珠——他亦从来不需要她知道。他愿将自己躺平成路,送她去到平安宁静的所在。
  • 可是,至少她做了能为他做的最后一件事。然后她将阖闭双眼,放弃所有坚执与挣扎,永远沉眠于深海之下——她已经疲倦至极。他是她胸中一道长年不能愈合的伤,非死亡不能治愈
  • 那年七月,鹄库王夺罕征服了居兹,七千里瀚北终归统一,各部咸呼夺罕为“渤拉哈汗”,鹄库语意为“乌鬃王”。兴建王都,名庞歌染尼,意即“红花柘榴之城”。其后裔统治传承近五百年,史称庞歌染尼王朝,王徽为千叶红花柘榴。    那是景衡九年夏天,帝都正是柘榴如火的时节,焚风萧萧穿城而过,于青天之下扬起一地残红。
  • 丙子年五月初二,本仙君踩着一朵祥云降至尚川府上空,徐风乍起,路人仰头观望,皆缩颈疾奔,摊贩手忙脚乱,本仙君模糊听得一声叫喊:“天阴有雨,赶紧收摊回家!”    世人愚钝,本仙君不与他们一般见识。
  • 轻飘飘做了几千年神仙,再世为人,足踏实地头顶方圆,四肢熟悉的沉重,五味在胸尘音入耳,竟十分塌实的亲切。
  • 劈里啪啦一阵,哭声引来丫鬟,丫鬟去喊家丁,家丁去喊总管和奶妈子,奶妈子扶出夫人。两个忠心耿耿的家丁壮汉抖擞出武松上山的气概从我身边挟起两位小少爷,我向他两人亲切微笑,壮汉面露惊恐之色,一路狼烟狂奔回廊下。一颗颗人头,闪在八丈二尺远的地方,看鬼魂一样看本仙君。    有眼不识真仙,本仙君也不同他们一般见识。
  • 法师起身,“王爷,小公子仙君临世,当然与常人不同,古人曾道,卧虎如石。星君数年潜气钝行,世人碌碌者,却不可知。”    东郡王爷对儿子是老虎星下凡一说很是满意,小儿子之所以傻,乃是老虎星一二十年都在睡觉,这种混话他也信了。
  • 天枢转世,果然还是和在天庭一样爱不动声色,端清高架子。心里闹着,脸上撑着,直把自己撑成个病秧子。
  • 方才又玩得过了……    喊人、传大夫、上药、开方子、煎药、人仰马翻。    本仙君蹲在天枢床头,十分忧郁。我觉得玉帝派我下界,不是让我折腾天枢,实是让天枢折腾我。
  • 晋宁的眼晶亮亮地一闪,挺起小胸脯道:“小叔叔你放心,我一定不会和别人说。我明白了,男人和女人是亲嘴,小叔叔和叔叔都是男人,就叫渡气。”
  • 青衫公子站起身,本仙君惊且喜,恍若东风拂过,三千桃树,花开烂漫。   他在三千树桃花的灼灼风华中向我轻轻一笑。    “在下赵衡,见过思明公子。”       第九章    本仙君如一棵被霜打雪压的老树,忽见东风,不由自主花满枝头。    浅近些说,本仙君心花怒放了。
  • 本仙君没和他客气。这几日白天折腾,晚上还要惦记天枢在旁边,翻身的时候别压着,睡着的时候别梗着颈子,打鼾把他惊着。牵三挂四,不得塌实。本仙君翻身上床,在内侧打了个呵欠,昏昏欲睡。
  • 衡文道:“命格星君写册子一向爱偷懒省事,辞不达意还罔生歧义。只盼他这次写得清楚点,别节外生枝。”
  • 我对他的样貌还没看熟,又呆了一呆,也笑着接道:“当真当真,我到天庭第一次喝这么痛快。”
  • 所谓下棋之趣味,就是要与那对面同下的人为着一子两子的得失,三分两分的局面你争我夺。你喜我怒,你洋洋得意我森森冷笑,彼时抓耳挠腮它时冷汗潸潸踌躇难下,图得就是这个乐子。
  • 天枢的双目如近看的秋水,南明的两眼是远看的秃山。这厢盛着说不尽的凄楚哀伤思慕欣喜与绵绵情意,那厢装着沉甸甸的思念与光秃秃的情。
  • 我将落到地上的诗本捡起来放到桌上,没话找话地道:“没想到你看这个。我还以为你好看王摩诘与孟襄阳。”虽然本仙君在天庭时,每逢有行令联句献诗之类需弄文墨事,都要靠衡文帮我过关,但其实我做凡人的时候也念过诗的,也能和人谈谈。    慕若言道:“王诗与孟诗虽以淡泊悠远著,其实一位是富贵生闲一位是闲想着富贵。倒不如高适图名利便公然的图了,却痛快。”    我道:“也是,此公虽然言大行怯,诗写得铿锵,战场上无能。但这世上行同于言的又有几个?大多如高公尔。”
  • 我陪笑道:“你莫躁,欠你的情回了天庭慢慢还,今天晚上我捅南明给你看解闷,可好么?”    衡文道:“你今儿一天都在琢磨着一刀扎在南明身上什么位置罢。”
  • 我如此待天枢,他竟替我拦下刀子,一喜。    我如此待他,他竟说我不是坏人,不是我未唱够火候,就是他脑子过了火候,一忧。    至于那一愁……    背后衡文道:“你的刀在墙角的大花瓶里立着。”    本仙君立刻道:“阁下夜半入房,未能及时相迎,失礼。白日家丁活计粗重腌杂,委屈了单将军,实在不好意思。但不知单将军半夜将我的人从床上拐下来,欲做些甚。”    我含笑负手,踱到花瓶旁,拎出无鞘的长刀。
  • 本仙君立在殿上,从容惮定,我站理儿“玉帝英明,宋珧此下凡界,事事都按交代做,事事都与交代不同,吃的苦受的罪也没当什么,就不提了。玉帝明鉴万事,是非对错,定能公断。”
  • 天庭的四天门,南天门通如今界,西天门通过往界,东天门通未来界,北天门通随常界。    本仙君打算从西天门转回李思明还在床上诊治的时候,日游神刚将我真身提出,李思明刚咽气,本仙君在这个瞬间再附进去,衡文把那颗扎烂的心还回原样,万事大吉。
  • 身上无处不痒,我伸手在脖子后挠了挠,搓出个颇可观的灰疙瘩。弹了,再搓,再弹,颇有意趣。
  • 我捋须微笑,先向掌柜的微笑,再向慕若言微笑。待张口时,才察觉豆腐干还没咽,于是从容咽下,又微笑,先对掌柜的道:“举手之劳,何必客气。”再蔼声问床上的慕若言,“公子觉得身子好些了么?”
  • 我与狐狸在山腰落地,参参树影深深长草,我问狐狸此山的名字,狐狸冷声道:“宣清山。”宣离的宣,衡文清君的清,本仙君一阵肉紧,道:“你未起这个名字之前,这座山叫什么。”    狐狸悻悻道:“枯藤山。”闷头走了几步,道:“你怎么知道名字是我改的?”
  • 本仙君这个老壳子蹲在一旁,看着青春年少的衡文和青春年少的天枢手拉手站着,颇有种东华帝君在我眼前跳水袖舞滋味。
  • 衡文似懂非懂地眨眼。天枢欲止又言道:“我和衡文下午与他们下棋,他们下不过,就拍桌子说再和我们下棋就给我们做儿子做孙子。在凡间,给人做儿子是不是一件很丢脸的事情。那你为什么……”
  • 我此时像是块闷在锅里的锅贴,又被油煎又被气闷,熬得十分难受。我只能道:“你喜欢这间房,我便和你换一换,从今天中午起你就在这间房中住,我去你的房里睡罢。”
  • 衡文无奈道:“命格这次是一番好意救你,你反而该谢他。你在天庭这些年,众仙与你都有些交情,不忍心见你就这么着灰飞烟灭了。因此命格才向玉帝说,虽然据说仙契线死结不是灰飞烟灭再不能解,但你这个神仙算是意外飞升,这些年没见你和天枢生情,说不定还有别的解决的法子。又因为月老说,毁他人姻缘十分造孽,会自断姻缘做为报应。于是命格就想了这么一出,天枢他向玉帝说愿意一试。南明对青童和芝兰太过狠辣,正有一笔债要还。于是,便有了你下界一场。”
  • 命格星君道:“玉帝本以为,你只是乱了天枢星君和南明帝君天命的变数。没想到你还是衡文清君与那只狐狸之间的引线。”    欠的债,就必定要还。我和天枢栓在仙契线上。命格星君说,他是杜宛铭时,那一世欠了我的债。于是他在天庭护着我吃尽苦头,。狐狸对衡文一片痴心,拼了自己的性命与千年的修为。衡文欠了狐狸,而今我又欠着天枢。    原来一概的缘份,不过是一场要还的债。
  • 我道:“那你记得今天跟我说的话。衡文他喝茶喜欢喝淡茶,写字时常把笔搁在笔洗里忘了收,喝酒不醉不算完,不能由着他喝。睡觉倒是没什么毛病,但记着他起床一定要喝雀舌沏的头遍茶。一看公文就忘了时辰,要时常拖他出来各处散心,他案前有个叫陆景的,时时刻刻都能拿出一堆公文让他看,勿须理会此仙。要是东华帝君碧华灵君太白星君他们找他吃酒时,留神小心着,他有些丢三落四的毛病,离席起身后看看他桌子上有没有忘记拿的扇子之类的。他不怎么吃甜东西,果仁只吃盐培的不吃蜜渍的。枕头要矮,褥子要软,茶水注意温热合宜。”
  • 我这段话比方才天枢的遗言我觉得更动情些,狐狸的眼圈儿都隐约有些红了。
Oh and also Sully's one-legged attorney friend.
  • To Rub’s mind, Sully’s one human flaw was that he didn’t seem to want much more than he had, which seemed unaccountable. If you were standing outside in the cold and wet, it was only natural to wish you were inside where it was warm and dry, so Rub wished it, and not just selfishly for himself, but for Sully too. That was friendship. Maybe Peter was Sully’s son, but Rub was pretty sure Peter had no such strong feelings for Sully.
  • The problem seemed to be that the animal’s good side, which responded as it always had, was impatient with the defective side, which refused to function at high speed, causing the dog to circle itself, like a boat with only one oar in the water, until finally the animal collapsed and had to start over again. Only when the dog was sufficiently exhausted for the functioning side of his body to go slowly enough to meet the requirements of the stroke-damaged side could he stand. By then he was ready for another nap.
  • But all this had been before Thanksgiving, before Peter showed up needing things and bringing his own needy little boy with him, before Janey had come looking for him when she needed a place to hide, before he learned of Ralph and Vera’s troubles and that Wirf was sick. Maybe there were strings. Maybe you caused things even when you tried hard not to. If that was the case, he probably should find a new place to live.
  • Miss Beryl studied the child too, thinking, as she often had when she surveyed her eighth-grade classes, that maybe people did wear chains of their own forging, but often those chains were half complete before they’d added their own first heavy link. Maybe completing other people’s work was the business of life.
  • li>“Probably not. I’d make them enter the tape into evidence, and my guess is a tape showing you at work would do us as much good as them. They’d be going to a lot of trouble for nothing. See, we got one of the original Ten Commandments on our side.” “Only one?” “Thou Canst Not Get Blood from a Turnip.”
  • For Rub there were a great many mysteries, but none was more perplexing than the way his best friend would team up with any human being on earth against himself. It was almost enough to make Rub doubt that they were best friends... Rub was contemplating all of this, including the unfairness of his own reflection being inside the car while he was kept out,
  • Rub’s wishes didn’t travel well. They came out best when he didn’t have to raise his voice, when he was in a ditch, for instance, and Sully was there in the same ditch a few feet away and ready to receive them. He didn’t like to expel wishes forcefully but rather to release them gently, allow them to locate Sully of their own impetus, on their own struggling wings. Like recently hatched birds, Rub’s wishes were too new to the world and too clumsy to sustain extended flight. They liked the nest.
  • The next morning, the bright morning sun streaming in the bedroom window, Sully saw that his father was right. Swiping a slender, gold-plated letter opener from a dead priest was something a person could do. But you couldn’t steal the whole world.
  • Across the street a pickup truck was driving on the sidewalk, two of its wheels on the concrete, the other two on her neighbors’ terraces. A few short paces in front of the truck, a short, almost dwarflike man, looking maniacally determined, bent forward into the teeth of the wind which had been making the ancient elms moan all afternoon.
  • But he made the mistake of getting out again and grinning triumphantly at Sully, who, when he saw this, saw too that he was not through with his stupid streak. I’m about to fuck up, he thought clearly, and his next thought was, but I don’t have to. This was followed closely by a third thought, the last of this familiar sequence, which was, but I’m going to anyway. And, as always, this third thought was oddly liberating, though Sully knew from experience that the sensation, however pleasurable, would be short-lived.
  • But at such moments of liberation, the clear knowledge that he was about to do himself in coexisted with the exhilarating, if entirely false, sense that he was about to reshape, through the force of his own will, his reality.
  • Rub’s wishes, when you totaled them up, meant simply that he’d have preferred a different sort of world, one where he got his share—of money, pussy, food, warmth, ease. Sully’s job, as he perceived it, was to defend the world they were stuck with, a task made infinitely easier by Rub’s presence.
  • “I need a few paying customers to offset my pro bono work.” “Meaning me?” “No,” Wirf said. “You’re my pro bonehead work. You I do strictly for laughs.” Sully ignored this
  • in human nature that sought to ignore or absolve obvious guilt on the one hand even as it sought to establish connections and therefore responsibility in the most unrelated things.
  • though he doubted making people feel good was much of a talent. More tellingly, he understood that the mechanism behind making people feel good was providing them with an object lesson that things could be worse.
  • He felt again, without fear, the play in the wheel, that he was neither in nor out of control. So this, he reflected, was what it felt like to be Sully.
  • It wasn’t even as powerful as the affection mixed with aggravation that he felt toward Carl Roebuck. Strangely, it was closer to his feeling for Carl’s wife, Toby, a feeling he couldn’t articulate that resided in the pit of his stomach and made him feel foolish, warning him away—perhaps for the same reason, the deep-down knowledge that these were things he couldn’t have, that would not be granted him, a beautiful young woman he had no right to expect, a son he didn’t deserve.
  • An imperfect human heart, perfectly shattered, was her conclusion. A condition so common as to be virtually universal, rendering issues of right and wrong almost incidental.
  • Will had talked of nothing but the leg, and Ralph knew that touching it, bringing the limb to the crippled lawyer, was the bravest thing his grandson had ever done and that the boy was full of pride.
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