Favorite Book Quotes Tag

Rules:
1. Mention the creator of the tag (Celine @Celinelingg).
2. Mention the blogger who tagged you.
3. List down 5 of your favourite book quotes along with the reasons.
4. Spread the love and tag some people to participate and connect! (There’s no limit in number, so have some fun and just tag!).

I was tagged by the lovely Aurora for this.  I’ve actually done a couple of posts about my favorite quotes before – HERE and HERE – but those posts are from over a year ago, so for this tag I decided to focus on quotes from books I read in 2018.  None of these books are going to surprise you if you’ve been around here for a while, but let’s do this anyway!
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1. Medea by Christa Wolf, translated from the German by John Cullen

“It’s possible they sense my unbelief, my lack of faith in anything. It’s possible they can’t bear that. When I ran over the field where the frenzied women had strewn your dismembered limbs, when I ran over that field, wailing in the deepening darkness, and gathered you up, poor, broken brother, piece by piece, bone by bone, that’s when I stopped believing. How could we be meant to come back to this earth in a new form. Why should a dead man’s limbs, scattered over a field, make that field fertile. Why should the gods, who demand from us continual proofs of gratitude and submission, let us die in order to send us back to earth again. Your death opened my eyes wide, Apsyrtus. For the first time I found solace in the fact that I don’t have to live forever. And then I was able to let go of that belief born out of fear; to be more exact, it repelled me.”

Anything I can say about this passage sounds silly and trite in comparison to Wolf and Cullen’s searing prose, but this is just one of those paragraphs that I had to stop and reread and then reread again.  The imagery she evokes of her dead brother’s decimated body is striking (‘Why should a dead man’s limbs, scattered over a field, make that field fertile,’ that’s so good), and the theme of questioning faith is something that never fails to engage me.

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2. Tin Man by Sarah Winman

And I wonder what the sound of a heart breaking might be. And I think it might be quiet, unperceptively so, and not dramatic at all. Like the sound of an exhausted swallow falling gently to earth.

This is one of those quotes that I don’t think sounds spectacular out of context (not that it sounds bad, necessarily, I’m just not one for grand statements about love and heartbreak), but paired with another line that comes later in the book, this absolutely broke me.

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3. Sight by Jessie Greengrass

“I want only what I think we all must want: to come off as better than I ought, more generous, more sure–kinder than I know myself to be; but I want also to be known, to be counted and to be excused. I can’t have both.”

This line gets right to the heart of something that I think so many women struggle with, or at least I do, certainly.  The tension between person and persona, between the true self and projected self, is something I find fascinating and while I didn’t love Sight from start to finish, this is one element of that novel that really resonated with me.

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4. The Idiot by Elif Batuman

“Even though I had a deep conviction that I was good at writing, and that in some way I already was a writer, this conviction was completely independent of my having ever written anything, or being able to imagine ever writing anything, that I thought anyone would like to read.”

I’ve mentioned this line a couple of times on my blog and I’m not sure what else to say about it other than that it makes me feel seen (which in this case feels more accusatory than validating if I’m being completely honest).  I felt such a strong connection to this character, and to her relationship with writing in particular, how she felt she perceived the world as a writer did, how she knew she had some kind of innate talent for writing, but mostly kept that inside her.  I bet if I ever write a book in my lifetime it will be something like The Idiot and I apologize in advance to everyone who will be thoroughly bored by it.

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5. In Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne

So here it all is, this London. A place that you can love, make rhymes out of pyres and a romance of the colours, talk gladly of the changes and the flux and the rise and the fall without feeling its storm rain on your skin and its bone-scarring winds, a city that won’t love you back unless you become insoluble to the fury, the madness of bound and unbound peoples and the immovables of the place.

The rhythm of Gunaratne’s prose in this novel is almost visceral to read, it’s the kind of writing you want to read out loud over and over to make sure you’re fully grasping the nuance of it.  I just think his imagery is wonderful (‘rhymes out of pyres,’ how brilliant) and this passage captures the frenetic energy of this novel so well.

And, bonus, from one of my first 2019 reads:

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6. Mother Winter by Sophia Shalmiyev

When you’re fished out, you will go to your proper place in a museum to be admired by me only. I will polish your bronze name plaque, and I will be writing the small paragraph, printed on heavy card stock in a tastefully solemn font, about you as a priceless relic, a found shard, degraded, a puzzling piece of history. A head lost, bust found somewhere, a battered woman with blank eyes, erected by those who had infinite worship in their hearts.

This is from an ARC so I’m going to have to check this against the finished copy, but still, I found this passage (regarding a dream where Shalmiyev imagines her mother as a statue submerged underwater) so arresting, and such a vivid description of something that plagues Shalmiyev throughout her memoir – the unresolved love she has for her absent mother that her other family shames her for.

Tagging: Hannah | Callum | Hadeer | Patrick | Emily | anyone who wants to do this

book review: Mother Winter by Sophia Shalmiyev

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MOTHER WINTER by Sophia Shalmiyev
★★★★☆
Simon & Schuster, February 12, 2019

 

Of the three memoirs I read this month, Mother Winter was far and away the one that hit me the hardest, which may surprise you as I’ve talked before about my disinterest in ‘motherhood books’ (only as a matter of personal taste). But I suppose Mother Winter is less of a mother book than it is a daughter book, centered on the irreconcilable grief that Sophia Shalmiyev incurred by growing up motherless. This is a sharp, focused, achingly tender and highly literary memoir that reads like a constant gut-punch.

Growing up in Leningrad in the 1980s, Shalmiyev had very little contact with her alcoholic mother, who she was forced to leave behind altogether when her father decided to emigrate in 1989. Shalmiyev spends the rest of her childhood and then adolescence and then adulthood unable to contact her mother, without any means of finding out if she’s even alive or dead. Her experimental memoir (which will undoubtedly appeal to fans of Maggie Nelson) fuses her unique experience of loss with themes of exile, grief, sexuality, displacement, and feminism; she often looks to iconic feminist women as stand-in maternal figures, as she relentlessly interrogates the lacuna that comes to define her.

Shalmiyev’s prose is vivid and searing. In this passage she’s talking about a dream she has where her mother is a statue at the bottom of the sea, and the imagery and emotional honesty on display here is rather emblematic of the rest of the book:

“When you’re fished out, you will go to your proper place in a museum to be admired by me only. I will polish your bronze name plaque, and I will be writing the small paragraph, printed on heavy card stock in a tastefully solemn font, about you as a priceless relic, a found shard, degraded, a puzzling piece of history. A head lost, bust found somewhere, a battered woman with blank eyes, erected by those who had infinite worship in their hearts.”

My one criticism is the overly abrupt ending, which leaves the reader with question after unanswered question. I obviously have to ask myself if that was indeed the point, which is certainly a possibility, but this is one of those books that seems so mired in the past that there isn’t much consideration for the future, and I’m left wondering what Shalmiyev intends to do after the final pages of this book. But, perhaps she does not owe us that explanation, or perhaps we will have to wait until she writes another book. Which I certainly hope she will.

Thank you to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for the advanced copy provided in exchange for an honest review. I will check the quote against a finished copy upon publication.