Mighty Life List
May 31 2011

Before She Met Me by Julian Barnes

The best parts of Before She Met Me by Julian Barnes:

“As soon as Jack introduced the girl, something flickered in his brain and automatically expunged her name. That was what happened at parties. A few years earlier, as an experiment, Graham had tried repeating the person’s name as they shook hands. ‘Hullo, Rachel,’ he’d say, and ‘Hullo, Lionel,’ and ‘Good evening, Marion.’ But the men seemed to think you homosexual for it, and eyed you warily; while the women asked politely if you were Bostonian, or, perhaps, a Positive Thinker. Graham had abandoned the technique and gone back to feeling ashamed of his brain.”

“She no longer expected each dinner to disclose a perfect partner — or even an adequate one.”

“He’d turned into a man like other men: lovingly surprised at his own emotions, while diminishing those of his partner.”

“He was incompetent at arguing with Barbara; she always operated on such fearlessly non-academic principles.”

“He felt a complacent lack of curiosity about why he had ever loved her in the first place.”

“But even so, she had said “Fuck’. It had been a nice evening; they’d had a good dinner together, got on well, hadn’t run short of things to say; but even so, a couple of drops of water and it brought out a ‘Fuck.’ What on earth would she say if something serious happened? If she broke a leg or the Russians landed?”

“One of the first things he’d said to her that made her laugh was, “I’m afraid I’ve got an academic’s body.”

Vocab list:

adamantine – having an adamant quality
ruckle – a wrinkle or crease
gammy – sore or lame
cheroot – cigar with both ends open and untapered
intransigence – unwillingness to change one’s viewpoint
parturate – give birth
senescent -Growing old; aging
tassle – euphemism for a boy’s genitals
homo ludens – man the player, the element of play in society
muleteer – person who drives mules
atavistic – Relating to or characterized by reversion to something ancient or ancestral

British terms/slang, (with aid from Nick and Sarah):

wet – usually ‘wet’ means like soft, or a wuss. Weak-willed. As in, “don’t be wet.”
Junior Scouts – like Cub Scouts
Scrubber – basically means… unattractive… someone who tries to look good, but looks awful. And probably a bit loose.” (I said, “White trash?” and Nick said, “Yeah.”)

Apr 24 2011

Model Home

The best parts of Model Home, by Eric Puchner:

“They had lost this feeling, the way you might lose a favorite gift you were no longer attached to. It had not seemed an important loss at the time: Dustin was born, and if anything a deeper,more devout-seeming love took its place. Once, while they were bathing Dustin together in the sink of their apartment, washing his scabbed-up bellybutton and tiny, heartbreaking penis, Camille had turned to Warren with a look of such stunning affection that he had actually lost his breath. I will never be happier than I am now, Warren had thought. Seventeen years later, he realized how sadly prescient that was.”

“[The guy in the top hat] sprayed some PAM into a plastic bag and then stuffed it up to his face. He blinked his eyes wide when he was finished, like something hatching from an egg.”

“The place gave Lyle a sludgy, unreal feeling, as though she were watching soap operas on a beautiful day.”

“He looked like one of those football players whose popularity hinged on their willingness to eat strange things.”

“The fact that you could know someone almost intimately and then a year later not know him at all seemed to be at the heart of everything sad and fucked up in the world.”

Jun 17 2010

Rumpus Book Club: Unreleased Books to Your Door

I just came across a genius last-minute Father’s Day Gift. My friend Stephen runs The Rumpus, an online culture and lit magazine with a genius book club concept. Here’s how it works:

“Every month you get a book in the mail that hasn’t been released yet. You’re invited to a moderated online discussion with the author at the end of the month… You can also write a review of the book and we’ll run the best written review(s) on the website.

It’s neat because we’re going to have a discussion about new books, rather than waiting to be told what books are approved for cultural consumption.”

Such a cool concept, and you can subscribe by the month or the year. Yes to books.

Jul 16 2009

Five Favorite Books

I’m a little late posting this Momversation about finding time to read. Shortly after Hank was born, I realized that reading is my meditation. I get mean if I don’t get book time.

If you’d like to see more books I recommend, have a look at my Eight Books that Changed Things for Me post. The comments on that post are great too. If you haven’t yet, list your favorites here. I’m always looking for good reads.