Saturday, November 5, 2011


There are days when I hate drawing. When I want to huck everything in the trash, move to Missouri and work in data entry for Initech for the rest of my life. What stops me from trashing so many expensive art supplies is remembering why I fell in love, why I can't imagine doing anything else with my life, and what revitalizes my love for entertainment. Here are parts of five books I absolutely love.

THE ROAD - Cormac McCarthy
A man and a boy travel to the sea as one of the few humans left after a worldwide catastrophe that's killing the planet and pitted the hungry against each other. When I first read this book, it was one in the morning and frightened me so badly I needed the TV on to get to sleep, and I couldn't sleep as a child unless I had complete darkness. In this case, I was twenty-two. Most of my friends who like the book are into it for the relationship between father and son; my reaction was, "they're doing WHAT to the women?!" and "what's a catamite?" My dictionary got a serious work-out during my read and I was overwhelmed by the imagery of the end of the human species. I didn't see hope. I was reading with morbid curiosity for what happens when humanity joins the dinosaurs. I had never read anything like Cormac's work and how he uses language. It was one of the first times I realized how curious I was to examine human behavior under extreme circumstances and what are the limits of humanity and morality. You never find out what caused this catastrophe, but this is a passage that has always stuck with me from later in the book where he alludes to what happened when everything collapsed.

They began to come upon from time to time small cairns of rock by the roadside. They were signs, in gypsy language, lost patterans. The first he'd seen in some while, common in the north, leading out of the looted and exhausted cities, hopeless messages to loved ones lost and dead. By then all stores of food had given out and murder was everywhere upon the land. The world soon to be largely populated by men who would eat your children in front of your eyes and the cities themselves held by cores of blackened looters who tunneled among the ruins and crawled from the rubble white of tooth and eye carrying charred and anonymous tins of food in nylon nets like shoppers in the commissaries of hell. The soft black talc blew through the streets like squid ink uncoiling along a sea floor and the cold crept down and the dark came early and the scavengers passing down the steep canyons with their torches trod silky holes in the drifted ash that closed behind them silently as eyes. Out on the roads the pilgrims sank down and fell over and died and the bleak and shrouded earth went trundling past the sun and returned again as trackless and as unremarked as the path of any nameless sisterworld in the ancient dark beyond.

Other passages I love from other books:

"Then among the greater casts there fell another hail, less ruinous but more horrible. All about the streets and lanes behind the Gate it tumbled down, small round shot that did not burn. But when the men ran to learn what it might be they cried aloud or wept. For the enemy was flinging into the City all the heads of those who had fallen fighting at Osgiliath or on the Rammas, or in the fields. They were grim to look on; for though some were crushed and shapeless, and some had been cruelly hewn, yet many had features that could be told, and it seemed that they had died in pain; and all were branded with the foul token of the Lidless Eye. But marred and dishonoured as they were, it often chanced that thus a man would see again the face of someone that he had known, who had walked proudly once in arms, or tilled the fields, or ridden in upon a holiday from the green vales in the hills."


The sun hung on the lip of the horizon, filling the sky. I don’t know whether it was the angle or the drifting smoke that half obscured it, but it was enormous. The whole scene looked like something that couldn’t be happening on earth, partly the sun, partly the utter lifelessness of the land around us, pitted, scarred, pockmarked with stinking craters and scrawls of barbed-wire. Not even birds, not even carrion feeders. Even the crows had given up. And I stumbled along at the head of the company and I waited for the sun to go down. And the sodding thing didn’t. IT ROSE. It wasn’t just me. I looked round at the others and I saw the same stupefaction on every face. We hadn’t slept for four days. Tiredness like that is another world, just like noise, the noise of a bombardment, isn’t like other noise. You see people wade through it, lean into it. I honestly think if the war went on for a hundred years another language would evolve, one that was capable of describing the sound of a bombardment or the buzzing of flies on a hot August day on the Somme. There are no words. There are no words for what I felt when I saw the setting sun rise.

THE HANDMAID'S TALE - Margaret Atwood
A chair, a table, a lamp. Above, on the white ceiling, a relief ornament in the shape of a wreath, and in the centre of it a blank space, plastered over, like the place in a face where the eye has been taken out. There must have been a chandelier, once. They've removed anything you could tie a rope to.

“There’s only one law in this game,” Leamas retorted. “Mundt is their man; he gives them what they need. That’s easy enough to understand, isn’t it? Leninism — the expediency of temporary alliances. What do you think spies are: priests, saints and martyrs? They’re a squalid procession of vain fools, traitors, too, yes; pansies, sadists and drunkards, people who play Cowboys and Indians to brighten their rotten lives. Do you think they sit like monks in London, balancing the rights and wrongs? I’d have killed Mundt if I could, I hate his guts; but not now. It so happens that they need him. They need him so that the great moronic mass you admire can sleep soundly in their beds at night. They need him for the safety of ordinary, crummy people like you and me.”

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