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This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading.

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inspo/self-deprecation

Mary Karr, Lauren Oyler, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Thomas Pynchon, Percival Everett, Lorrie Moore, Victor Serge, Jesse Ball, Renata Adler

particularly wry or poignant examples of self-awareness

It was a fine voyage, in first-class berths. A destroyer escorted our steamer, and now and then took long shots at floating mines. A dark gush would rise from the waves and the child hostages applauded. From mist and sea there emerged the massive outline of Elsinore’s gray stone castle, with its roofs of dull emerald. Weak Prince Hamlet, you faltered in that fog of crimes, but you put the question well. “To be or not to be,” for the men of our age, means free will or servitude, and they have only to choose. We are leaving the void, and entering the kingdom of the w ill. This, perhaps, is the imaginary frontier. A land awaits us where life is beginning anew, where conscious will, intelligence and an inexorable love of mankind are in action. Behind us, all Europe is ablaze, having choked almost to death in the fog of its own massacres. Barcelona’s flame smolders on. Germany is in the thick of revolution, Austro-Hungary is splitting into free nations. Italy is spread with red flags. .. this is only the beginning. We are being born into violence: not only you and I, who are fairly unimportant, but all those to whom, unknown to themselves, we belong, down to this tin-hatted Senegalese freezing under his fur on his dismal watch at the foot of the officers’ gangway. Outbursts of idealism like this, if truth be known, kept getting mixed up with our heated discussions on points of doctrine. [...]

—p.78 2. Live to Prevail: 1912-1919 (53) by Victor Serge 2 years, 12 months ago

The last time I performed in their theatre—the Jo Ro, opposite the factory—I played Abdullah, a street urchin in Tennessee Williams strange, static play, Camino Real. I was thirteen years old. As Abdullah, I was photographed by the Yorkshire Evening Press, and the accompanying caption came very near to praising my brief performance. I would read this caption over and over in the hope that unequivocal praise for my acting talent might somehow emerge from it.

—p.111 Chocolate Empires (97) by Andrew Martin 2 years, 11 months ago

[...] The students were apparently demanding many resignations because the president and his administrator were insensitive to the needs of students of color. It sounded like my college days twenty-five years earlier, when we were asking for essentially the same things. I was sadly as apolitical then as I was at this moment. I dealt with fossils. I crawled through caves and measured the bones of birds long dead. [...]

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—p.62 by Percival Everett 2 years, 11 months ago

But where people could relate to Alessandro’s novel, they couldn’t relate to mine. There’s a clunkiness to my writing that comes from a loneliness so extreme it never manages to warm up. I don’t suffer like a poet, I suffer like an office clerk. The second part of the novel offered no comforting hugs to anyone, nor did it provide any explanation of or knowledge about the impotent, Catholic anti-Semite at its center. The flamboyance of the style was an implicit promise to the publisher—and the foreign publishers—that their money would be earned back. But it was only style, and style is never enough.

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—p.113 American Dream (105) by Francesco Pacifico 2 years, 2 months ago

Before and during the festival, about fifty films are screened during the day for the press. I saw forty of them. I missed one because of a therapy appointment. (Even though I am a film critic, I hope to be able to have normal relationships someday.) I missed another because I had a hangover and couldn’t face the hour-long trip to Lincoln Center from my apartment in Brooklyn. Two I paid to see, and went on Sunday afternoons after buying tickets using the festival’s complicated and anxiety-inducing website, with its countdown clock.

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—p.184 On the New York Film Festival (183) by A S Hamrah 2 years, 8 months ago

Thursday, 17 December.

The cat is sitting by the door. Evidently it wants to go out. I sit by the door also, watching it. It is as if our hostilities (the hostilities of cat and mouse) have already begun. This is a feline that I purchased at a fair. A charismatic man was giving kittens away. You didn’t dare look at him because . . . oh but you looked at him and now he’s calling you over, he’s smiling, he’s touching your arm a bit. He remembers you from somewhere. He’s telling you about kittens and then you’re in the car on the way home and everyone is cooing stupidly and passing the thing around.

When my wife comes home I am still sitting there. The cat is still sitting there. Nothing has changed. At least two hours have passed. I think in some ways I have gained the cat’s respect, although of course the gain in that regard is counterbalanced by my wife’s dismay. What are you doing on the floor? I begin to tell her but think better of it.

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—p.87 Diary of a Country Mouse (85) by Jesse Ball 2 years, 4 months ago

I met Bon on the other side of passport control. We had at last stepped foot on la Gaule, as my father had taught me to call France in his parish school. It was fitting, then, that the airport was named after Charles de Gaulle, the greatest of great Frenchmen in recent memory. The hero who had liberated France from the Nazis while continuing to enslave us Vietnamese. Ah, contradiction! The perpetual body odor of humanity! No one was spared, not even the Americans or the Vietnamese, who bathed daily, or the French, who bathed less than daily. No matter our nationality, we all become accustomed to the aroma of our own contradictions.

What’s wrong? he said. Are you crying again?

I’m not crying, I sobbed. I’m just so overcome to be home at last.

—p.4 by Viet Thanh Nguyen 1 year ago

I was in no condition to talk about plans or think about them, and yet an hour later there I was thinking as I sat in an RER train car rumbling toward a northern suburb. While I stared out at the grim prison blocks of apartment buildings and tried to hold myself together, I wondered if it was true, if the Eiffel Tower was just a Gallic erection thrusting forth from the supine French body, shooting off bursts of clouds, seen and invisible at the same time.

Was it so obvious that it was not obvious?

Was the French empire simply exposing itself for all to see?

Was the Eiffel Tower any different from the Washington Monument, the white missile erupting from the American capital, foreshadowing all the nuclear missiles buried in silos across the American landscape?

[...]

My neighbor got up and moved to another seat.

—p.99 by Viet Thanh Nguyen 1 year ago

Barbers humiliate me by charging half-price.

Twenty years ago, the mirror exposed the first bare spots concealed under my mop of hair. Nowadays, I shudder with horror at the reflection of my luminous, bald pate in windows and glass storefronts.

Every hair that falls, every single strand, is a fallen comrade who before falling had a name, or at least a number.

—p.222 by Eduardo Galeano 1 year, 4 months ago

My skincare regimen is more extensive than I’m proud of. I’d recently learned it was important to let each product “fully” absorb before applying the next, and while I did not spend forty-five minutes each night sitting in the bathroom awaiting transcendence, the layering approach I couldn’t unlearn did give me plenty of time to consider my options. After a swipe of special water supposedly popular in France, I thought, I won’t do it. After I cleansed a second time, with cleanser, per the recommendation of Korea, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t. After I used a dropper designed to look scientific to apply serum to my nose to decrease redness and “purify,” I thought, Great social revolutions are impossible without feminine ferment. After a pat of stinging, very expensive foam, the effects of which I was not convinced, I thought, Ha, that’s funny. By the stroke of moisturizer I was dewy and resolved: I had nothing to lose but my chains.

—p.9 by Lauren Oyler 1 year ago