an age of confidence

THE GLORIOUS HISTORY of man is filled with legends of dogs and memories of dogs: despicable dogs, respectable dogs, fearful dogs, pitiful dogs. When Granddad and Father wavered at one of life’s crossroads, hundreds of dogs under the leadership of the three from our family – Blackie, Green, and Red – clawed out pale paths in the earth near the sorghum field south of our village, where the massacre of our people had occurred. By that time, our dogs were nearly fifteen years old, a time of youth for humans, but an advanced age for dogs, an age of confidence.

Mo Yan, Red Sorghum

Summer arrived

Granddad took the pistols and a basketful of cartridges down to the river, where he spent the entire spring picking off fish. When there were no more large ones, he went after little ones. If he had an audience, he shot wildly, hitting nothing; but if he was alone, each round smashed a fish’s head. Summer arrived, and the sorghum grew.

Mo Yan, Red Sorghum

nerve by nerve

“Thus, neither of us is alive when the reader opens this book. But while the blood still throbs through my writing hand, you are still as much part of blessed matter as I am, and I can still talk to you from here to Alaska. Be true to your Dick. Do not let other fellows touch you. Do not talk to strangers. I hope you will love your baby. I hope it will be a boy. That husband of yours, I hope, will always treat you well, because otherwise my specter shall come at him, like black smoke, like a demented giant, and pull him apart nerve by nerve.”

— Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

literature in the mass

“Well, when a literature subsists almost exclusively on Life and Lives, it means it is dying. And I don’t think much of Freudian novels or novels about the quiet countryside. You may argue that it is not literature in the mass that matters, but the two or three real writers who stand aloof, unnoticed by their grave, pompous contemporaries. All the same it is rather trying sometimes. It makes me wild to see the books that are being taken seriously.”

— Vladimir Nabokov, Laughter in the Dark

Each man for himself

“Why kid ourselves, people have nothing to say to one another, they all talk about their own troubles and nothing else. Each man for himself, the earth for us all. They try to unload their unhappiness on someone else when making love, they do their damnedest, but it doesn’t work, they keep it all, and then they start all over again, trying to find a place for it.”

— Louis Ferdinand Céline, Journey to the End of the Night

the alarming pseudonym of Belshazzar

“I made the acquaintance of Pomone through a medical student. The student cultivated him as a means of making a bit of extra money out of his cock, because, you see, the lucky bastard was gifted with a monumental penis. He and his amazing equipment would be hired to bring animation into little intimate gatherings in the suburbs. The ladies made a great fuss over him. especially those who wouldn’t have believed that anyone could have “such a big one.” Overwhelmed young girls would dream and rave. In the police records our student figured under the alarming pseudonym of Belshazzar!”

— Louis Ferdinand Céline, Journey to the End of the Night