Quotes from Books I Read in 2006
Submitted by Oddmonster on Sun, 01/01/2006 - 04:16
- The Dead Days - Marcus Sedgwick:
A little after midnight.
Boy had caught up with Valerian at the top of the next alley--a particularly nasty little gutter of a lane called Blind Man's Stick, where the roof tiles of the buildings on either side were close enough to touch in places. Here and there it was possible to catch a glimpse of the night sky between them, but Boy was not interested in the stars. Not yet.
- The Sittaford Mystery - Agatha Christie:
Here, packed in unceremoniously, were two pairs of skis, a pair of sculls mounted, ten or twelve hippopotamus tusks, rods and lines and various fishing tackle including a book of flies, a bag of golf clubs, a tennis racket, an elephant's foot stuffed and mounted, and a tiger skin. It was clear that, when Captain Trevelyan had let Sittaford House furnished, he had removed his most precious possessions, distrustful of female influence.
- From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler - E L Konigsberg:
Claudia knew that she could never pull off the old-fashioned kind of running away. That is, running away in the heat of anger with a knapsack on her back. She didn't like discomfort; even picnics were untidy and inconvenient: all those insects and the sun melting the icing on the cupcakes. Therefore, she decided that her leaving home would not be just running from somewhere but would be running to somewhere. To a large place, a comfortable place, an indoor place, and preferably a beautiful place. And that's why she decided upon the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
- Sleeping with the Fishes - Mary Jane Davidson:
It seemed Moon Bimm (nee Moon Westerberg) had been putzing around on Chapin Beach, Cape Cod, with a bunch of her idiot hippie friends, high on pot and le Gallo Jug, lonesome and wondering what it all meant, got separated from her pot-smoking, Gallo-swigging pals (which Fred would have thought a relief, but Moon didn't agree), and ran into a suave, green-eyed fellow and was so fucking drunk she didn't notice he was half fish.
'But if he was a merman, how did you--whoa. Whoa. Forget it. I can't believe, in light of recent hideous events, that I even asked you that. Don not answer. Do not answer. We are at DEFCON 3 and rising. We--'
- O'Artful Death - Sarah Steward Taylor:
She propped the invitation up on the windowsill and sorted through the rest of the mail, then poured herself a gin and tonic. It was the cocktail hour. Outside the kitchen window, the sun was dropping on the horizon. The light was cold. This was the time of day she missed Gilda the most, she decided. It was when Gilda had liked to take a break from painting and they would sit in the kitchen, talking or reading the paper, listening to the late afternoon news. It was the time of day when it was hardest to be alone.
- Large Target - Lynne Murray:
'What?' The admiral was suddenly red-faced with rage.
'You heard me. When are you marrying Lani?'
'I don't have any immediate plans.'
'Okay then. I hate like hell for this young lady to have to die as well as you.'
'Wait, Fred!' The admiral was pleading now. 'After Sally cheated on me, I swore I'd never get married again. A woman like Lani, she'd never stay with an old man like me.'
'So? If she cheats, divorce her. But give her a chance. Put her in some night-school classes. Treat her like you respect her. If you can't do that, you don't deserve to live.' He turned to me. 'You must be a woman's libber. What do you think?'
I took a deep breath and coughed again. That sure did smell like smoke in the air. 'I don't know why any woman would want to marry this old goat, but if she wants to, why not? She's going to have to learn a few skills beyond taking off her jacket in mixed comapny. Other than that she seems like a nice kid.'
'We can get free,' the admiral said. 'I escaped from here once.'
'Okay,' Fred turned on his heel and headed for the exit. 'You might get out in time,' he said over his shoulder. 'Did I mention that this place is crammed to the rafters with guns and ammo and that crazy bastard in the chair set the building on fire?'
'Set a date, asshole!' I screamed at the admiral.
- Edgar & Ellen: Tourist Trap - Charles Ogden:
Over many years, Nod's Limbs grew and neighborhoods sprouted up far beyond the center of the town, but the area around the cemetary and junkyard remained deserted.
Well, almost deserted.
One narrow house rose impossibly high, towering over the junkyard and cemetary. Iron spikes jutted up from the roof of this pillar of gray stone, and the building itself seemed to suck all color from its surroundings. Two half-moon windows kept careful watch for the rare passerby, and just above, a round window in the cupola winked in and out of the heavy mist like a third eye. Cracked and broken gray shutters banged against their twisted frames at the slightest gust of wind, and carved about the dark entryway was the word schadenfreude, which means "pleasure derived from the misery of others." A fitting motto for the only two people who lived in the tall mansion: the young twins named Edgar and Ellen.
- Syrup - Maxx Barry:
He tips a wink in my direction. 'Perception is reality.'
I struggle mightily against the urge to lean across the table and smack him. Saying Perception is reality to a marketer as if you're handing out clever advice is grossly insulting. It's like saying to an accountant: Now make sure those numbers add up; or to a new mother: You know, you have to feed them or they die. Never, never do it.
- Hogfather - Terry Pratchett:
Like many barmen, Igor kept a club under the bar to deal with those little upsets that occurred around closing time, although in fact Biers never closed and no one could ever remember not seeing Igor behind the bar. Nevertheless, things sometimes got ouf of hand. Or paw. Or talon.
Igor's weapon of choice was little different. It was tipped with silver (for werewolves), hung with garlic (for vampires) and wrapped around with a strip of blanket (for bogeymen). For everyone else the fact that it was two feet of solid bog-oak usually sufficed.
- The City of Ravens - Richard Baker:
Jack led Anders across the rooftop to a small stone slab in one corner. 'Below us, as you well know, is the warehouse of House Kuldath. The five brothers Kuldath hail from some distant land far to the east. Their principal trade lies in carpets of exquisite workmanship, rumored to be hand-woven by sixteen enslaved princesses forced to labor at the brothers' command in order to prevent House Kuldath from collecting on a debt owed by their destitute father.'
Anders frowned. 'Carpets. That's bad. They're quite heavy, and in this rain, they'll get heavier still. That will be a lot of work.'
'No,no, forget the carpets. We're here--'
'Ah, so it's the princesses, then. They're even heavier than carpets, but unlikely to become heavier with a soaking. Manageable, I suppose.'"
- Tangled Webs (Volume 2 of Starlight and Shadows) - Elaine Cunningham:
Despite his size and his short, bandy legs, the captain set an incredibly fast pace. Behind him was Liriel, running full out, her slender limbs pumping and her white hair streaming back. Behind her roiled a swarm of knife-wielding kobolds.
'Step lively, my lads!' roared the captain as he swatted a bemused mongrelman out of his way.
His crew took this development stoically, going about their business with an ease and speed that bespoke frequent practice. Ibn cut the ropes securing the ship to the dock and then seized the rudder; the other men took their places at the oars. To Fyodor's surprise, the Elmaid shot away from the dock, well beyond the reach of the captain and his drow companion.
Before Fyodor could react to this apparent desertion, the captain skidded to a half. As Liriel ran past, the enormous man seized the back of her swordbelt with one hand, jerking her to an abrupt stop. With his free hand he gathered up a handful of her tangled hair and chain mail vest. Lifting the drow easily off her feet, the captain hauled her back for the toss. As Fyodor watched, slack-mouthed, the man heaved Liriel up and toward the ship.
The captain's strength, combined with Liriel's dark-elven powers of levitation, sent the drow into impromptu flight. Hands outstretched before her, she hurtled toward the Elfmaid like a dark arrow, her eyes wide with wild delight.
- Idoru - William Gibson:
'And it's always light, here...' Tears came, streaking Maryalice's makeup. 'Everywhere. Couldn't sleep for all the light, like a fog over the city...Get in the bathroom.' Maryalice taking a step forward, Eddie and the Russian taking one back.
Chia reached over and picked up the stungun, she wasn't sure why. It had a pair of blunt chrome fangs on one end, a red, ridged stud on one edge. She was surprised at how little it weighed. She remembered the ones the boys at her school had made from those disposable flash-cameras.
'And it always finds me, that light,' Maryalice said. 'Always. No matter what I drink, what I take on top of that, It finds me and it wakes me up. It's like powder, blows in under the door. Nothing to do about it. Gets in your eyes.'
- Second-Hand Dog: How to Turn Yours Into a First-Rate Pet - Carol Lea Benjamin:
Now you are set up for a happy ending. Dmitri whips through the training course. An anonymous party mails us his papers. We brush his coat, get him into shape and run with him straight to Madison Square Garden for Westminster, right? Wrong! Now we have a dog who sits and stays, and eats couches. Now we have a happy beginning. Patience, readers. Things always take four times as long as you guess.
- Wonders of the Sea - Meredith Haven:
What we now call myth represented, at one time, the best explanation available for the nature of the world that surrounds us. Much of what we now call science may, in some future eon, be regarded as myth and fantasy by those whose understanding goes far beyond our own.
- Rogue River Journal: A Winter Alone - John Daniel:
Wrens and squirrels, as I've observed them, lead lives of nothing but one distraction merging into another, a continual twitchy vigilance accompanied by profuse vocalizations. I notice them, I realize, usually when they feel threatened, usually by me. I'm not privy to their presumably more relaxed moments with family or friends, or as they pursue their hobbies.
- The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch - Joseph Delaney:
Warned about the village girls. Get up to all sorts of tricks. Especially need to take care with any who wear pointy shoes. They're not to be trusted.
- The Big If - Mark Costello:
Tashmo thought the best way to watch a child grow was to see the kid something like once a month. That way you really noticed the progress. He didn't share this insight with his wife.
- The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn - John Bellairs:
As Anthony followed it with his eye, he happened to glance at the carvings over the fireplace. He had noticed them before because they were so strange-looking.
There was a wide, square panel covered with three-dimensional carved objects that stood far out from the wall. There were oranges and lemons and sheaves of grain and bunches of grapes and clambering monkeys and, here and there, odd little faces peeping out through the carved shrubbery. At the top of the panel was a pointed cornice; on the point was a half-moon just like the stone half-moon and banner over the [library] front door. On the banner was the same motto: BELIEVE ONLY HALF OF WHAT YOU READ.
- The Figure in the Shadows - John Bellairs:
Lewis worked at the library till closing time, which was nine. Then he packed up his books again and got ready to leave. Nine was a little late for him to be walking the streets of New Zebedee alone, but he wasn't worried. Nothing bad ever happened in New Zebedee. And besides, he had his amulet with him.
- The House With a Clock in Its Walls - John Bellairs:
He had thought a couple times of hiding in the secret passageway, but he was afraid of getting caught. A passage that is entered through a china cupboard full of rattling dishes is not as secret as one might wish. And if some secret spring lock snapped shut on him, he would need to scream his way out, and then there would have to be explanations.
- Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth - Simon R Green:
'Hold everything,' said Julien. 'You actually tried this before?'
'Once, when I was a lot younger', I said defensively. 'When I was really desperate for information about who and what my missing mother was. I thought, if anybody would know...'
'What happened?' said Dead Boy.
'Well,' I said, 'you know that really big crater, where the Hotel Splendide used to be?'
'That was you?' said Julien. 'It's still radioactive!'
'I really don't want to talk about it,' I said, with great dignity.
- Paths Not Taken - Simon R. Green:
[Old Father Time] waved an elegant hand dismissively. 'There are always storms and flurries in the chronoflow, and strangeness and charms run wild in the lower regions. And don't even get me started on quantum foam and superpositions. Sometimes I think the dinosaurs died out just to spite me.'
- Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom - Cory Doctorow:
But then she came back through the lock, strange and wordless and her eyes full of the stars she'd seen and her metalic skin cool with the breath of empty space, and she led me a merry game of tag through the station...
- Murder Under a Mystic Moon - Yasmine Galenorn:
On one of our first nights in the house, I'd caught her attempting to climb out of her window. Rather than fence her in, I hired a contractor to reinforce the flat section of the roof right outside her room. He'd built a solid guard rail so that on warm nights she could crawl out of her window, telescope in hand, and stargaze the evening away. After a few months, the neighbors had gotten used to seeing my daughter perched on the roof.
- After Dark - Jayne Castle:
Her pet dust-bunny, Fuzz, drifted towards her across the floor. If she had not been anticipating his greeting, she would not have seen him until he appeared at her feet. None of his six paws made any sound on the tile floor of the postage-stamp-size foyer.
Fuzz's daylight eyes were open, glowing a brilliant, innocent blue against his dull, nondescript fur. He was fully fluffed, making it impossible to see his ears or his paws. He looked like something that had just rolled out from under the bed.
'Hey, Fuzz, you are not gonna believe the day I had,' Lydia scooped him up and plopped him on her shoulder. 'Oomph! Been into the pretzels again?'
The sturdy weight of the little beast always suprised her. One tended to forget that the scruffy, unprepossessing exterior of a dust-bunny concealed the sleek muscles and sinews of a small but serious predator.
- Murder Walks the Plank - Carolyn Hart:
Henny Brawley beamed at the assembled guests. She was a regal figure atop the temporary wooden stage, a rhinestone tiara perched on her silvered chignon. A loop of her long red chiffon dress was draped over one arm. Matching rhinestone buckles glistened on white pumps. She might have been at the opera or a music hall. Annie was thrilled that Henny was playing her role so magnificently. Only Henny could carry off such a dramatic costume at a watermelon feast on a sweltering afternoon.
- PopCo - Scarlett Thomas:
I seem genuinely able to pluck the details of mainstream pop culture from the air. It must be from the air. Bad TV shows do, after all, travel through it all the time; particles hitching a ride on passing waves of light. It's a sobering thought, actuallym that as you walk around--doing your shopping or popping out to feed the ducks in the park--all this invisible stuff is churning in the air around you. TV broadcasts, radio waves, mobile phone signals, global positioning systems, fragments of advertisements. You probably have bits of advertisements trapped in your navel, in fact, along with all that pink fluff, and maybe also that radio play you'll never listen to.
- Dim Sum Dead - Jerrilyn Farmer:
It is just my way. I don't like to dance around a dead buffalo, if one happens to be lying in the ballroom. I prefer to call everyone's attention to the dead buffalo and suggest it be removed.
- Engaged to Die - Carolyn Hart:
Annie took a deep breath, delighting in the swirl of fumes from beer on tap, sawdust-sprinkled wooden floors, live bait bobbing in salt-encrusted barrels, chicken necks in battered coolers, and hot grease. Annie loved Parotti's, the island's oldest restaurant and bait shop, a combination unsettling to squeamish tourists.
- As She Climbed Across the Table - Jonathan Lethem:
I woke in the grip of a terrifying dream, involving tribesmen, clouds of dust, my answering machine. I was actually on a cot in the curved hallway outside the Cauchy-space lab. Alone. Finding myself in the bowels of the chilly, humming [physics] complex was stranger than the dream, and worse. It was like I'd been sleeping in the safe of a sunken ocean liner.
- Reliquary - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child:
'Sergeant Hayward, you know underground Manhattan better than any of us,' Pendergast said as they stepped into a small, leather-lined elevator. 'You've already given my invaluable advice. Any last words?'
The elevator began lurching downward. 'Yes,' Hayward replied. 'Don't go.'
- Sacrifice - Andrew Vachss:
When you hunt predators, the best camouflage is weakness.
- Tales from Fish Camp: A City Girl's Experience Working in an Alaskan Fishing Village - Danielle Henderson:
Christopher suntanned like a proper Englishman, covering himself in SPF 45, wrapping himself in a sheet and rolling under a bush.
- Blue Belle - Andrew Vachss:
She pulled me close, her mouth butterfly-soft against mine. 'My mother saved my heart for me. She died to do it. I waited a long time. I'm giving it to you now. And I'll die to do it too.'
I held her against me in the dark. For that little piece of time, I didn't have to call on the ice god of hate to fight the fear.
- Edgar & Ellen: Under Town - Charles Ogden:
Back in their seventh-floor den, Edgar paced while Ellen plucked beetles from her potted pigweed.
'We can hang him upside down from the attic window,' said Ellen, dropping another beetle into a jam jar.
'How will we get him through the window? No, we should barricade him in his shed and not let him out until he returns our plans.'
'Except that he has a trapdoor that leads to the sewers beneath his bed!'
'Wait--I've got it!' said Edgar. 'With a bucket of molasses and a ten-foot pole--'
'No,' said Ellen.
- Mask Market - Andrew Vachss:
The pit bulls let me reclaim my Plymouth, even though all I had was a couple of gyros I bought from a vendor on the walk over. It wasn't about the quality of the bribe for them; they just wanted to be shown some respect.
The orca female sat and watched me for an extra minute. I tossed her a cube of steak I had saved from Mama's. She snapped it out of the air without a sound. We both looked at the other two pits. Neither of them had seen a thing. Our secret.
- Scardown - Elizabeth Bear:
Ellie looks at me. Her eyebrows rise. 'I'm going to need a metric buttload of linguists.'
- Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson:
The byproduct of the lifestyle is polluted rivers, greenhouse effect, spousal abuse, televangelists, and serial killers. But as long as you have that four-wheel-drive vehicle and can keep driving north, you can sustain it, keep moving just quickly enough to stay one step ahead of your own waste stream. In twenty years, ten million white people will converge on the north pole and park their bagos there, The low-grade waste heat of their thermodynamically intense lifestyle will turn the crystalling icescape pliable and treacherous. It will melt a hole through the polar isceap, and all that metal will sink to the bottom, sucking the biomass down with it.
- Generation X - Douglas Coupland:
Years ago, after I first started to make a bit of money, I used to go to the local garden center every fall and purchase fifty-two daffodil bulbs. Shortly thereafter, I would then go into my parents' backyard with a deck of fifty-two wax-coated playing cards and hurl the cards across the lawn. Wherever a card fell, I would plant one of the bulbs. Of course, I could have just tossed the bulbs themselves, but the point of the matter is, I didn't. Planting bulbs this way creates a very natural spray effect--the same silent algorithms that dictate the torque in a flock of sparrows or the gnarl of a piece of driftwood also dictate success in this formal matter, too.
and, bonus quote: "Have you ever wanted to set your parents' house on fire just to get them out of their rut?"
- The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel) - Ellen Rankin:
Little Dumpling Fish had four names.
- Figgs and Phantoms - Ellen Rankin:
On the first day of every month Ebenezer Bargain rearranged the books in his shop. He placed slow-selling items in sale bins to make room for newly acquired books and added one or two rare or unusual books to the top-shelf collection, his 'retirement investment'.
On the second day of every month, the Figg-Newton giant appeared.
- Larkspur - Sheila Simonson:
'I could work here, Lark. It's beautiful.'
'Tell D'Angelo to bring the papers out to you.'
'No, I mean real work--poetry.' She was genuinely elated. 'And your father would love it. He could fish the stream...'
'I beg your pardon?'
'It;s called Pumpkin Creek, and pronounced Punkin Crick, according to my sources.'
She made a face. 'A sadly large number of our pioneer forebears had prosaic souls.'
'Maybe it was a very large punkin.'
I'll lay odds Ma's next book contains a piece called 'Punkin Crick'. And it will deal poetically with prosy pioneers.
and, bonus quote:"Life often does imitate art, which is why art is such a heavy responsibility."
- Venom House - Arthur W Upfield:
Blaze was mixing a bread batter in a large tin dish when he was conscious of someone looking at him. His bush education had begun when a toddler, his teachers being the aborigines, and the crafty crows, and cattle when that indefinable something termed herd instinct is in the ascendant at night.
- One for the Money - Janet Evanovich:
The next time I saw him, I was three years older. I was on my way to the mall, driving my father's Buick when I spotted Morelli standing in front of Giovichinni's Meat Market. I gunned the big V-8 engine, jumped the curb, and clipped Morelli from behind, bouncing him off the front right fender. I stopped the car and got out to assess the damage. 'Anything broken?'
He was sprawled on the pavement, looking up my skirt. 'My leg.'
'Good,' I said. Then I turned on my heel, got into the Buick, and drove to the mall.
I attribute the incident to temporary insanity, and in my own defense, I'd like to say I haven't run over anyone since.
- Cause of Death - Patricia Cornwell:
I tried my flashlight one last time, just in case, but it still proved useless, and I realized I would have to see this scene with my hands. Tucking the light back in my BC, I held my computer console almost against my mask. I could barely make out that my depth was almost thirty feet and I had more than half a tank of air. I began to hover in the dead man's face, and through the murkiness could make out only the vague shape of features and hair that had floated free of his hood.
- Hex and the City - Simon R Green
I was about to ask, politely but very firmly, what the hell we were talking about, when we were interrupted by a whole bunch of six foot tall teddy bears, carrying in the various items up for auction that session. The bears swept straight past us, carrying the items carefully in their soft, padded arms, talking in low, growly voices. The bears all looked like they'd seen a lot of rough handling, and as they passed Lucretia Grave a few muttered loudly about the need to get unionised. They set out each object in its own glass display case, treating every item with great care and respect.
- The Strange Voyage of the Leona Joyce - Robbalobba:
We walked away from the paranoid cop and Rah said, 'We gotta get the fuck outta this town.' I kept thinking, is the dollar store in Savannah, Illinois, really a potential terrorist target?
- Gil's All Fright Diner - A Lee Martinez:
Rockwood didn't have a movie theater or an IHOP or a strip mall. But it did have two churches, a ramshackle bar, and last (but certainly not least) Wacky Willie's Deluxe Goofy Golf, a barren landscape of wilted ferns and plastic flamingos with peeling paint. Wacky Willie had added the 'Deluxe' when finally ridding the thirteenth hole windmill of a stubborn family of bats after a great and terrible struggle that would forever be known as 'The Fearsome Bat War of Rockwood County' to Willie, but was usually referred to as 'The Time Willie Had to Get Rabies Shots' by everyone else.
- Nightingale's Lament - Simon R Green:
It was a wide-open lobby, to allow for a clean line of fire from as many directions as possible, and the receptionist sat inside a cubicle of bulletproof glass, surrounded by a pentacle of softly glowing blue lines. It was said by many, and believed by most, that you could nuke the whole building and the receptionist would still be okay.
The old dear put down her knitting as she saw me coming and smiled sweetly. Most people thought of her as a nice old thing, but I happened to know that her knitting needles had been carved from human thigh bones, and if she smiled widely enough, you could see that all her teeth had been filed to points.
- Agents of Light and Darkness - Simon R Green:
The Hot N Spicy franchise specialises in fire alarm chillies, all variations, one mouthful of which could melt all your fillings and set fire to your hari. Chillies from hell. Three toilets, no waiting, and they keep the loo rolls in the fridge. We are talking about atomic chillies, and I don't want to even think about the fallout. For real chilli fans only. A sign on the wall just inside the door proudly proclaimed Today's Special, wasabe chilli. Wasabe is a really fierce Japanese green mustard, which ought by right to be banned under the Geneva Convention for being more dangerous than napalm.
There was another sign below that, saying Free sushi; you supply the fish. Enterprise is a wonderful thing.
- Something From the Nightside - Simon R Green:
'I knew it was going to be a bad day when I woke up to find my rabbit's foot had grown itself a new rabbit,' he said resentfully. 'If I'd known it was a warning you were coming back into my life, I would have locked all the doors and windows and melted down the keys. What do you want?'
'Good to see you again, Alex. How's business?'
He sniffed, loudly. 'Takings have dropped so low you'd need an excavator to find any profits, a poltergeist has moved into my cellar and is haunting my beer barrels, turning the taps on and off, and Pale Michael is claiming that since he is now a zombie and officially dead, with a coroner's certificate to prove it, he doesn't have to pay his not inconsiderable bar bill. And now you're here.'
- The Lake - R Karl Largent:
Manion peered over the edge and froze. But from that point on, it was all instinct and very little reasoning. I knew there was no point in staking out our claim on the roof. The slough was our only gamble.
'If you know how to pray, I strongly suggest you get started.'
Before Manion could reply one way or the other, I shoved him over the edge. He plunged into the darkness and I was right behind him.
- McNally's Bluff - Vincent Lardo:
I think the former owners of the villa on Ocean Boulevard would have been amazed to see what Amazin' Matthew Hayes had done with it.
- Dying to Fly Fish - David Leitz:
'Well, as long as you're in a talking mood,' she said, and gestured to the pickup where Rayleen stood frozen by a primered front fender, his eyes locked on Sharon and Kerry, 'you better talk to Rayleen.' She laughed again. 'Lookin' at a young girl with a body like that ain't good for him. All that blood runnin' to his crotch'll put a strain on his heart.'
- Shampoo Planet - Douglas Coupland:
The room comes into focus. Budgies and canaries are sweeping into the bedroom's air. Kittens prance and chase the carp which writhe and twitch and flop on the floor by my feet. The lovely mooch of a spaniel puppy licks the cola dribbles at the bottom of the glass at my side and shudders with pleasure as I scratch its head. Animals, one by one by one, are adorning all surfaces of the room, and more of them keep flowing downward into our lives, some pulled by gravity, some by curiosity, skittering down on the slightly springy springboard of the collapsed ceiling.
Anna-Louise's stereo system is completely wrecked, drenched in water and now home to a trio of pink birds. Not that this matters. All of the technology in the room is wrecked, but it seems beside the point.
- Die a Little - Megan Abbott:
They came back floating on a cloud of their own gorgeous besottedness. It felt vaguely lewd even to look at them. They seemed to be all body. They seemed to be wearing their insides too close to the surface of their skin.
- Hook Man Speaks - Matt Clark:
"'So, do you have any kids?' I asked.
'Nope. Just a couple of fake feet.'"
- Lake Monster Mysteries: Investigating the World's Most Elusive Creature - Benjamin Radford and Joe Nickell:
The white settlers apparently heeded the Indians' warnings, for the most part; when there were occasional lapses, they would be reminded of the wrath of [the lake monster] N'ha-a-itk. In 1854 or 1855, a settler named John MacDougall is said to have neglected the sacrifice. While crossing the lake with a team of horses, a great force sucked his steeds down with a tremendous slurp. MacDougall was terrified when he realized that his canoe, lashed to the horses, was about to be pulled down to a watery doom as well. He grabbed a knife and cut the ropes, narrowly escaping with his life.
- Rising Tide: The Threat from the Sea, Book 1 - Mel Odom:
'You'll understand in time,' she assured him. 'You've been given the burdens you carry only so that you may become who you should be. Running water shapes stone but it doesn't do so overnight.'
'I don't understand.'
'You will. You must trust that.'
The look she gave him drew the promise. 'I'll try.'
Her face took on a more somber look. 'Know too, that there are those who would stop you in your journey,' she said. 'They fear you, fear what you will become, and with good cause because your life will touch the lives of many. I came to you in this dream so that you may take heart in this time of despair. There is a darkness out there, greater than any darkness you've known. It has already moved against part of the world you know, and it will be your crucible. Should you live understanding and more will be yours.'
'And should I die, lady?'
She looked at him, gave him a small smile, and said simply, 'Don't.'
- McNally's Secret - Lawrence Sanders:
I poured a few drops of an '87 Mondavi Chardonnay into her navel and leaned down to slurp it out.
Jennifer's eyes closed and she purred. 'Do you like that?' she breathed.
'Of course,' I said. 'Eighty-seven was an excellent year.
- Stolen Sharpie Revolution, 3rd edition - Alex Wrekk:
"A post box and pen name are fun. A Full mailbox makes me so happy and a pen name makes me feel like a secret agent."
- The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiff and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries - Marilyn Johnson:
"[On alt.obituaries] facts, like opinions, are tossed about like glitter in a disco."
- Company - Max Barry:
"Elizabeth puts her hands on her hips. Elizabeth has shoulder-length brown hair that looks as if it has been cut with a straight razor and a mouth that could have done the cutting. Elizabeth is smart, ruthless and emotionally damaged; that is, she is a sales representative. If Elizabeth's brain was a person, it would have scars, tattoos, and be missing one eye. If you saw it coming, you would cross the street. 'Do you want to ask me a question, Roger? Do you want to ask if I took your donut?'"
- JPod - Douglas Coupland:
"When I taped the prime numbers to my cubicle wall and looked at them from a distance, I could see darker and lighter patches within the body of the text that formed interesting shapes and patterns. I bet if I took the time to format the numbers correctly, I could see some sort of hitherton never-before-noticed magical numerical pattern that would allow me to solve the formula for generating prime numbers once and for all. I mentioned this to Cowboy. All he said was, 'Maybe, but what if it turns out that the numbers form a kind of Magic Eye image, and when your brain resolves it, you see a goat walking on its hind legs, drinking from a horn full of blood?'
Scotch that idea."
- Bellwether - Connie Willis:
"Since I spend my working days studying trends, many of which are downright disgusting, I feel it's my duty after work to encourage the trends I'd like to see catch on, like signaling before you change lanes, and chocolate cheesecake."
- Hammered - Elizabeth Bear:
"She's so very young, so very deadly. It breaks my heart. I want to tell her the truth: that you think you have it under control and then one day you wake up and discover that you hurt all the time and everybody you love is dead or won't return your calls. You wake up one morning and discover you've become a brutal old woman, and pain makes you nasty company.
If you're lucky enough to live that long."
- Drilling for Death - John Wolfe:
"She swam the length of the pool, and then sensing my presence, stood facing me at the shallow end near the steps. Her tanned bdy was barely covered by a tiny red bikini.
'Hi!' she said. 'If it isn't the very ex-football player.'
'Hi yourself,' I said. 'Is your mother home?'
'No,' she answered happily. 'No one's home. Come on in.'
'I am in,' I said.
'No, silly, I mean in the pool.'
'Sorry. I don't have a swimsuit.'
Laurie shrugged and said, 'Just a minute.' She dived down briefly, made a couple of swift movements under water and came up holding two wisps of red cloth. She smiled at me. In fact, standing there in three feet of water, all of her smiled at me. 'There,' she said. 'Now we're even.'"
(A cheap paperback mystery set in the 1970s Houston oil industry, the whole book is like this. Good times.)
- Biggie and the Poisoned Politician - Nancy Bell:
"One thing I like about Mr Crabtree is his glass eye, which he will take out and let me look at. At night he keeps it in a little miniature coffin which his company used to give away as souvenirs until the higher-ups decided it didn't project an upbeat image to be giving away coffins. Now what they give away is plastic rain hats and yardsticks printed with the company name. When his ship comes in, Mr Crabtree is going to get a new eye because the one he has doesn't match his real eye, which is gray. When he gets his new one, he's going to give me his old eye to put on my whatnot shelf."
- Lemon Meringue Pie Murder - Joanne Fluke:
"'This just gets stranger and stranger.' Lisa shook her head. 'We've had a mooning, a murder and money turning up from an old bank robbery, all in one week.'
'People who think small-town life is boring ought to move to Lake Eden!'"
- Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - John Berendt:
"'Aiken loved to come here and watch the ships go by,' she said. 'One afternoon, he saw one with the name Cosmos Mariner painted on the bow. That delighted him. The word "cosmos" appears often in his poetry, you know. That evening he went home and looked for mention of Cosmos Mariner in the shipping news. There it was, in tiny type on the list of ships in port. The name was followed by the comment 'Destination Unknown'. That pleased him even more.'
'Where is Aiken buried?' I asked. There were no other gravestones in the enclosure.
'Oh he's here,' she said. 'In fact, we are very much his personal guests at the moment. It was Aiken's wish that people should come to this beautiful place after he died to drink martinis and watch the ships just as he did. He left a gracious invitation to that effect. He had his gravestone built in the shape of a bench.'
An involuntary reflex propelled me to my feet. Miss Harty laughed, and then she too stood up. Aiken's name was inscribed on the bench, along with the words COSMOS MARINER, DESTINATION UNKNOWN."
- Rock and Roses: An Anthology of Mountaineering Essays, by Some of the Best Climbers of the World - edited by Mikel Vause:
"The mountains took my first love. It was in the fall and he was working on the apple harvest. I was on a rock climbing trip to Yosemite where he would soon join me. I had been working a 9 to 5 job for six months in the city and was impatient for the outdoors. He had gone out climbing on a day off, there was a rockfall, and my friend was suddenly and incomprehensibly gone.
I knew where to run. I went to the city, stood numbly through the funeral, loaded up the old Volkswagen, mine now, and went to the mountains. The pain and loss were so great, but climbing could take all my energy and concentration and let me forget for awhile. I cried on all the belay ledges." --from Julie Brugger's "A Mountain Experience"
- Steamed - Jessica Conant-Park and Susan Conant:
"Sometimes it happens: an instant connection. Even my recent disasters with Noah and Eric couldn't prevent me from putting myself out there. Heather was always warning me that I fall too hard and too fast for men. I didn't care. I hated playing games, feigning indifference, taking things slow. When I liked someone, I just went for it, and I wasn't about to start holding back now. If Josh decided he wasn't interested in me, then I'd survive. Maybe I'd get burned. Maybe I'd find love. In fact, maybe I'd found it.
'You know what?' I said to Josh. 'Let's not talk about the murder anymore, okay? It's all going to work out.'"
- Death by Darjeeling - Laura Childs:
"Bethany was within four feet of the man when a warning bell sounded in her head. Surely her eyes were playing tricks on her in the darkness, the erratic candlelight hissed and flared, illuminating the man's face.
The calm of the courtyard was shattered by Bethany's shrill scream. The silver tray crashed to the bricks. Teacups broke into shards, and a half-filled pot of tea exploded on impact."
- A Room of One's Own - Virginia Woolf:
"It would be a thousand pities if women wrote like men, or lived like men, or looked like men, for if two sexes are quite inadequate, considering the vastness and variety of the world, how should we manage with one only? Ought not education to bring out and fortify the differences rather than the similarities? For we have too much likeness as it is, and if an explorer should come back and bring word of other sexes looking through the branches of other trees at other skies, nothing would be of greater service to humanity; and we should have the immense pleasure into the bargain of watching Professor X rush for his measuring-rods to prove himself 'superior'".
- Candy Apple Dead - Sammi Carter:
"The Gaslight Lounge is one of the holdovers from Paradise's mining days. It squats on the edge of town near the turnoff to Sapphire Lake, a low gray building with only a few neon signs to relieve its sheer ugliness."
- Fluke, or I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings - Christopher Moore:
"Nate listened, trying to weigh what it really meant in the bigger picture, but he couldn't think of anything except that he wanted her to go with him, wanted her to be with him, no matter what she said she was. 'I don't care, Amy. It doesn't matter. Look, I got over all this'--he gestured to all that--'and the fact that you're sixty-four years old and your mother is a famous dead aviatrix. As long as you don't start liking girls, I'll be fine.'"
- Hard Times: For These Times - Charles Dickens:
"It soon appeared that if Mrs Sparsit had a failing in her association with that domestic establishment, it was that she was so excessively regardless of herself and regardful of others as to be a nuisance. On being shown her chamber, she was so dreadfully sensible of its comforts as to suggest the inference that should have preferred to pass the night on the mangle in the laundry."
- Reservations for Murder - Tim Myers:
"Some people described Bear Rocks as eerie in the daylight, with the twisting formation of rocks weathered by ages of nature's forces. There were slides, holes and pathways within the stones that formed a magical world Alex had lived in as a child. He still knew every twist and turn of the rocks, every secret passage that led to an unexpected place in the stone forest.
'We'll never find her in there,' Craig said."
- The Hanged Man - Walter Satterthwait:
"The yard was unkempt. Brown grass, uncut all summer, buried beneath the snow until recently, lay flat and sodden against the uneven ground. I followed the cement walkway to the front step. Above the door hung another steer skull, nearly identical to the one that had hung above Leonard Quarry's front door. It was a fairly popular decorative item here in New Mexico; Georgia O'Keeffe and her paintings have a lot to answer for. But maybe, in some other dimension, steers are painting pictures of Georgia O'Keeffe's skull."
- The Soup Peddler's Slow & Difficult Soups: Recipes & Reveries - David Ansel:
"What do the Springs have to do with soup? It's not so much that there's a direct correlation between Barton Springs and soup, but there is a definite concomitance between the springs and a soup lifestyle. Yes, feel the italics. Lifestyle. Barton Springs, the literal oasis, is symbolic of the position of Austin as a freethinking oasis in the midst of, well, Texas. But the springs more readily offer themselves as a symbol of Austin's identity as the epicenter of slackerdom. On any given weekday afternoon, one can find scores of faineant, able-bodied, easily employable people on the hill above the pool strumming guitars, standing on their heads, writing in journals, staring off into space, looking deeply into each other's souls, or practicing capoeira or fire-dancing maneuvers. These are the soup people. These are the people who have created the space and the time in their lives to live a soup lifestyle. They positively live in italics.
- A Perfect Circle - Sean Stewart:
"The present is a rope stretched over the past. The secret to walking it is, you never look down. Not for anyone, not even family. The secret is to pretend you can't hear the voices of the people who have fallen down there in the dark.
There was a red light blinking on my answering machine. The message was from Tom Hanlon, telling me his offer was still on the table. A thousand bucks to come see about the dead girl in his garage."
- Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World - Lynn Hill:
"One night the crowd put downa stake of $5 to dare Yabo to make a nude moonlight solo of a route named North Overhang. The route is rated 5.9, and its trickiest section requires one to climb a section of a crack splitting through a nearly horizontal ceiling of rock. Not having a penny to his name, Yabo unhesitatingly took the meager bet, stripped, and set off up the climb clad only in rock shoes, a chalk bag, and a wool cap. Those on the ground heckled him as he swung baboonlike through the roof, and we shone our flashlights onto his bare, untanned rump. When he finished the climb, he down-climbed the other side of the overhang and returned to the ground, only to find that his clothes had been snatched and hidden by one of his friends. We laughed while he wandered stark naked in the cold desert air for a few minutes, but then he reached under a rock and pulled out another set of trousers, socks and a sweater.
'I might be crazy, but I'm no fool,' he said, cackling the deranged laugh I would grow to know well in the coming years."
- Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons:
"Still the wailing voices of the women wound through the aire like strung wires. It was hours before the stars would begin their idiot dance between the chimney-pots. There was nothing to do in between except wail."
- Off the Leash: Subversive Journeys Around Vermont - Helen Husher:
"Why bother with fiction when the truth will do?"
- From Potter's Field - Patricia Cornwell:
"I had not taken one vacation when I was growing up because we had no money, and now I had no children. I thought of Wesley and wanted to call him as I listened to the loud wash of surf rushing to shore. Stars showed through cloudy veils and voices carried on the wind and I could not decipher a word. I may as well have been hearing frogs scream or birds crying. I carried my empty coffee cup inside and did not feel afraid for once."
- The Mystery of the Pirate Ghost - Geoffrey Hayes:
"'A pirate's hat!' cried Uncle Tooth. 'This looks like old Blackeye Doodle's hat to me.'
'Didn't Blackeye drown at sea?' asked Joe Puffin.
'That he did,' said Uncle Tooth. 'But it would be just like him to come back from the dead to haunt us.'
'And now he has my trumpet,' said Otto sadly."
- Fray - Joss Whedon, Karl Moline, Andy Owens:
"I'm pissed like this rutting beast can't conceive--I'm a lifetime of pissed, of strong, of muscle built over bruise, I'm slick with power and I feel the fight as it changes... as it flows... everything into place, perfect, and I finally do what I was born to do."
- Jar City - Arnaldur Indridason:
"One day, over a piping bowl of meat stew, Erlendur asked Eva Lind whether he could choose the name if she gave birth to a girl. She said she'd expected him to make some suggestions.
'What do you want to call her?' she asked.
Erlendur looked at her.
'Audur,' he said. 'I thought it would be nice to call her Audur.'"
- Through the Grinder - Cleo Coyle:
"So what happened to Mario? I was dying to ask my daughter. But I'd already read The 101 Ways to Embarass Your Daughter and Piss Her Off for Decades handbook--and I figured it was better left unasked...for now."
- The Cabinet of Curiosities - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child:
"He continued down the sweeping marble staircase, hand clutching the banister. At the bottom he paused, screwing up his eyes, peering into the even more pronounced darkness. The smell of rot and decay seemed stronger here.
His eyes focused on an object in the center of the hall. One of the sheets had become so decayed that it had already fallen from the object it covered. In the darkness it looked strange, misshapen, Smithback took a step forward, peering intently--"
- The Second Assistant: A Tale from the Bottom of the Hollywood Ladder - Clare Naylor and Mimi Hare:
"I got back to work on the list Ryan had sent. I'd dealt with the live girls, now how about the live birds? I called a man in Sacramento who owned an aviary and did a little deal on some birds of paradise and parrots. He assured me that they weren't going to kill one another. He'd also offered me hummingbirds, but common sense told me that letting the smallest bird in the world loose at a party of Hollywood heavy hitters would mean it was only a matter of time before someone inserted one into an orifice they shouldn't or snorted one up along with their line of cocaine. Daniel had decided that the theme of the party was supposed to be 'Jungle Madness'. I saw it as my responsibility to provide the jungle part. Hoping that the madness would happen all on its own."
- At Wick's End - Tim Myers:
"Belle Black realized she had to be careful when she confronted the murderer about to visit her candle shop, At Wick's End."
- Assassination Vacation - Sarah Vowell:
"One winter night in my kitchen, as I poured peppermint tea into my friend Lisa's cup, she said that she liked my teapot. I told her that my happy yellow teapot has a kinky backstory involving a nineteenth-century vegetarian sex cult in upstate New York whose members lived for three decades as self-proclaimed 'Bible communists' before incorporating into the biggest supplier of dinnerware to the American food-service industry, not to mention harboring their most infamous resident, an irritating young maniac who, years after he moved away, was hanged for assassinating President Garfield."
- Straight Up or On the Rocks: A Cultural History of American Drink - William Grimes:
George Washington himself went into the whiskey business. His last estate manager at Mount Vernon was a Scot named James Anderson, who persuaded Washington to turn over one of his unprofitable small farms to raising rye for whiskey. Soon Washington had a thriving operation that turned a profit in 1798, produing not only whiskey but apple, peach and persimmon brandy. Jefferson, too, had a rye distillery."
- Assassination Vacation - Sarah Vowell:
"Now a person with sharper social skills than I might have noticed that as these folks ate their freshly baked blueberry muffins and admired the bed-and-breakfast's teapot collection, they probably didn't want to think about presidential gunshot wounds. But when I'm around strangers, I turn into a conversational Mount St. Helens. I'm dormant, dormant, quiet, quiet, old-guy loners build log cabins on the slopes of my silence and then, boom, it's 1980. Once I erupt, they'll be wiping my verbal ashes off their windshields as far away as North Dakota.
I continue. 'But the main thing that surprised me was how romantic Assassins was.'"
- Cruel and Unusual - Patricia Cornwell:
"The morning I carried Ronnie Joe Waddell's meditation in my pocketbook, I never saw the sun."
- Carnage on the Committee - Ruth Dudley Edwards:
"Mary Lou was half-way through reading the latest government communique about ethnicity and higher education when the baroness rang and shouted at her incoherently about cats and lesbians."
- All That Remains - Patricia Cornwell:
"Saturday, the last day of August, I started work before dawn. I did not witness mist burning off the grass or the sky turning brilliant blue. Steel tables were occupied by bodies all morning and there are no windows in the morgue. Labor Day weekend had begun with a bang of car crashes and gunfire in the city of Richmond."
- Threshold - Caitlin R Kiernan:
"Half an hour later and Chance is sitting on the floor in the study, cross-legged on the rug and her headache a little better but she's still not up to chairs and tables. She's switched on one of the Tiffany reading lamps near the back of the room, dustyellow light spilling from beneath stained-glass branches, stained-glass wisteria drooping in luminous purple bunches. And all the shelves rising up around her like the book-lined walls of a fortress, safe in here, always safe in here from the world, guarded by books and all the secrets inside them, all the things hardly anyone else will ever care to learn."
- The Vesuvius Club - Mark Gatiss:
"Supple, for his part, talked at length about his time in South Africa and the great adventure a young man like me might have there. He told me about his own daughter--a great joy to the old man by his account--and I nodded and smiled with the air of sagacity I like to assume for such occasions. I put on a good show of being fascinated by his colourful account of dawn over the Transvaal as I took out my watch and stared at the second hand racing over the porcelain dial. I could hear the soft action of the tiny spring.
It was midway between the fish course and the pudding, as Supple opened his mouth to begin another interminable tale, that I did the decent thing and shot him."
- In a Strange City - Laura Lippman:
"The Mu-sheum curator looked a little like a better-kept version of the distracted-looking women seen wandering the city's streets, muttering to themselves. The women who walk, Tess thought of them, for they stalked through their empty days with a palpable sense of misison, speaking sternly to themselves."
- Relic - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child:
"On the fifth floor, Margo followed Moriarty along a wide passageway and up a flight of metal stairs. The narrow, labyrinthine catwalks that made up this section of the sixth floor had been built directly underneath the Muesum's long pitched roofs. On either side were rows of low metal doors, behind which lay the hermetically sealed vaults of the perishable anthropology collections. In earlier times, a poisonous cycanic compound had periodically been pumped into the vaults to kill vermin and bacteria; now, artifact preservation was handled with subtler methods."