Week Twenty-Eight of Books Isn’t It Pretty To Think So?
★★★★★
"When I quit my job, I’ll rent a room here and play music or write poetry and drink wine and learn new things and hang out with interesting people and wake up and do it all again and live forever."
"I thought about how light is always more beautiful when it has to fight to be noticed, like a sunlight fighting through the clouds after a rainstorm."
"I remember when I first checked into the hotel room, long before Tatiana, I bought two big bags of white T-shirts and, at one point, wore a new one each day, so that the dirty pile, amassing in the corner of my room, would remind me of the passing time and all the work I’d neglected to do. I hoped, by some form of self-torture, it would inspire me to come alive, but, sadly, it was just a dirty pile that grew clockwise with the long-drawn-out days and the semi-sleepless nights."
“I think it was mostly truth I was after. I know now that truth is a troubling thing. You can’t snort your way to it. You can’t drink your way to it. You can’t fuck your way to it. You can’t cheat your way to it. You can’t love your way to it. You can only let it envelop you and try to make sense of it all.”
"…but I soon became overwhelmed by all the books I hadn’t yet read, as their authors hassled me while I ambled along the alphabetical aisles: Margaret Atwood shook her head in disappointment, William Burroughs threw his hands up in disbelief, Willa Cather leered, Michael Chabon screamed, Michel Houellebecq shouted, James Joyce scoffed, D. H. Lawrence glared, Marcel Proust cried out, “Mais que dites vous?” Philip Roth angrily shook his fists, and Edith Wharton scoffed, “Really?” There were so many books still to read, so many to add to my ever-growing queue.”
“But let’s forget about love for a second. How about just a real fucking connection? I don’t like the idea of a world where people just worry about taking care of themselves. Sometimes I think I hate people - I really do - but I’m not ready to give up on them yet. I mean, there has to be something, right?”
“I feel like I’m just passing through life. But then there’s this voice in my head telling me to do something, to create something, to make something, and I want to listen to it, but I don’t know how. I want to be able to say something, but I have nothing to say. I want something extraordinary, but I’m ordinary in every way-I just read books about other people and browse the lives of my Facebook friends all day.”
"The most discouraging element of what I felt was my inability to understand it. Usually when I was filled with an unpleasant feeling, I could make it go away, or at least tame it, by watching a light-hearted film or reading a good book or listening to a feel-good album. But this feeling was different. I knew none of those distractions could rid me of it. But I knew nothing else. I couldn’t even describe it. Is this depression? Maybe once you ask someone to describe depression, he can’t find the words. Maybe I’m part of the official club now. I imagine myself in a room full of people where someone in the crowd, also suffering from depression, immediately noticed me—as if he detected the scent of his own kind—walked over, and looked into my eyes. He knew that I had The Feeling inside me because he, too, had The Feeling inside him. He didn’t ask me to talk about it, because he understood that our type of suffering was ineffable. He only nodded at me, and I nodded back; and then, during our moment of silence, we both shared a sad smile of recognition, knowing that we only had each other in a room filled with people who would never understand us, because they didn’t have The Feeling inside them.”
"Just remember, cabrón, the best shit is cheap … made by the bare, brown hands of people like my sister and me, like my mother and my grandmother. We don’t use no fucking cookbooks. Our hands already know how much spices to add. Nacido con las manos en la masa. We are born with that shit, homie.”
"When I looked back to the page of my book and saw, in place of the words I’d just read, a blank space. I’d have to be careful not to read any more words in that state of mind, because then I’d be the one responsible for losing them—the infamous monster hated for destroying all the beautiful words in all the great books of literature.”
“Perhaps you’ve suffered some recent losses and you’re incapable of processing your angst. But… let me tell you what I also know. You’ll be faced with some decisions in the very near future. The choices you make in these specific cases have the capacity to result in extremely divergent life trajectories, much more so than any choices you’ve ever made before. I still see an energy in your eyes, feel a warmth in your blood, but it’s very important for you to understand that, when faced with these decisions, you should not seek darkness. You’re very naive and fragile, because you act as if you don’t believe in anything, as if you don’t care to believe in anything, but, really, all you want is to believe in something with all of your heart. This is a problematic combination. I should tell you that the only way to fit in well with people is to truly love people. And the only way to truly love people is to continue to immerse yourself in social environments where, contrary to what you hope for, you’ll find that people are never what you want them to be. It is at this point of acceptance, if you’re still willing, that you’ll be able to start loving people. And let me enlighten you about something - you must know, for your benefit, that it doesn’t really matter in the end if a person says she wants to climb a tree and doesn’t mean she wants to climb a tree. That’s all I can tell you today.”
“Having kids is a very selfish thing to do, man. I mean, I can’t really think of a more selfish thing to do. You didn’t ask to be brought into this world. Your parents just did it so they could stare at little versions of themselves all day. And then they wonder why we do the things we do, like we shouldn’t have a choice or something. But they had a choice. They chose to bring us into this fucking world. And why? Because they hit a point in their own lives when everything became boring and meaningless, and they needed something to make it all more interesting. It’s a fucked-up way of validating their own lives. It’s all bullshit,man.”
"It’s like those teachers back in the day who started you off with a perfect A in class. Everyone was so happy. Everyone felt smart. Anything was possible. But what happened? We kept fucking up every day, and our grades kept dropping until they ended up as the grades we were always going to get, maybe even worse. But then, a new semester or quarter or whatever begins, and everyone has a perfect grade again, and everyone is happy and alive and so smart. People need that feeling to get by, you know?”
"You’re always staring at things like they’re supposed to tell you something. Once you realize that this is just a table and that’s just a tree and those are just people, everything starts to make sense, and then you don’t have to give a shit anymore. Then you can start having fun. It’s that simple.”
"We are stupefied by every sound we see and every color we hear."
"I believe that life can be just gorgeous if you’re willing to give yourself to someone, and that you’d be a fool to hold yourself back from experiencing something like that."
"You know,” I said to Henry, “every time I see a child playing, I have the same feeling—this warm, nostalgic sensation for the days when summers were magical and time itself seemed infinite. You remember that? I mean, as kids we could unlock a world of imagination simply by climbing a tree. We could fantasize about everything, imagine ourselves growing up and doing anything, because the possibilities were endless, you know? We were still young enough not to be laden with thoughts of doubt and meaninglessness. It just made more sense.”
"Hey! Am I really to be implicated when music simply sounds better on vinyl?” he said, smiling back. “Or for loving a time when—it’s possible that you’ll remember—one could answer a phone and be truly surprised by the voice at the other end? I’m just more fond of my generation, that’s all.”
"Gutenberg—that damn bastard, right?—with his printing press, destroying every man’s need to rely on his memory. And in my time, all the math guys ran around screaming about the calculator ruining all of our math skills. It all makes for something wonderful to write about, but to write it well and write the time well, you must learn to love your subjects to their core, even if you hate them, because, as a writer in the present, they’re your only beautiful muses in this world. I’m quite convinced that very few, if any, can do it alone. Jake, you must understand something … you must understand that momentary rage is good, but that abiding hate is ruinous. Don’t hide from people in hate when you can rage silently in their presence. Rage means you’re alive. Rage brings you closer to the truth. Misanthropes have nothing to write about, because they’re already dead, and writing is for the living.” 
"… I got the impression of a man who truly believed that the beauty in life was hiding in all the great words of men and women throughout the ages, waiting to be shared."
"A writer shouldn’t break the rules out of ignorance—only when he knows them so well that he craves something more and wants to run free, so he needs to write his own rules to grow. But he must earn that opportunity.”
"Breathe in the words of all the great writers who lived before you."
“Jake, we’re enjoying our time before getting cancer. We have our passions and our relationships and our work and our pastimes—and then we move on. It’s that simple, really. So just try to enjoy your time. That’s all you can do,” Henry said, always one to bring light to my darkness.”
"[Do you know what ennui is, Jake?] It’s the pretty French word for boredom. Life is too goddamn short to spend one minute of it bored. OK, that’s it. I’m done.”
"Jake, you’re waiting for people to be extraordinary—in fact, you’re expecting them to be extraordinary. And when they aren’t, you feel betrayed and disappointed. You can’t wait for people to make mistakes. If you want people to become extraordinary, you have to help them get there. If you’re just looking for bullshit, that’s all you’ll ever see. Don’t seek meaning in the empyrean; learn to seek meaning in the earthly,” he said.”
"You know, my life used to be shit until I realized how much worse it continued to get. Then I knew the current moment I was living in was the best moment of my life. Then I started to enjoy myself.”
“Beauty is not always as perfect as we imagine it to be but it can be damn close if we learn to accept the scary parts or the ugly parts.”
I’ve been meaning to read this for a while because I’ve always admired Nick’s writing on his tumblr, and this book was just wow. I refused to read the little excerpts that he released because I wanted to just read it together so I had no idea what the book was about, and I can’t explain to you how much I loved it. It was just really beautiful. I haven’t read a book like this for a while. I guess I’ve done some heavy reading so I haven’t been able to just read a book mindlessly, and this book actually made me feel like I was taking the journey with him, and that was just great. I guess I like many want to take a journey by myself one day randomly, but since I clearly can’t do that at my age this was as close as I’ll ever be that to the adventure. I really connected to Jake Reed, and I don’t know some of the thoughts he had are exactly what I feel 24/7 so it was nice to have a character that I just felt really close to you know? I also loved how he structured the novel. I don’t know if I’m imagining this, but the syntax feels like it was structured in a way where it was similar to what he was experiencing. Like the middle part of the book, the sentences felt very fast and rushed, and at the end the structure was sweet, and in the beginning it felt very dazy.That might just be, but I don’t know I really liked the way it was structured. One thing that did frustrate me was that every one he got really close to had to die or had something dramatic to, and I get the point of why he had to do that, but I was just super frustrated. When Henry died, I was almost in tears. I don’t cry in books or movies usually so just the fact that it almost had me in tears is something. I read only one review that it was bad, and I want to say that guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s some sort of elitist or something because he referenced it to his college or something, and I was literally pissed as hell that somebody could say something about this book. It was just really incredible. I loved all the plot twists and how everything seemed to connect at the end. Really beautiful, and I really hope Nick writes another book. Seriously such a good book.
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