'In his early writings, Thoreau called the alphabet the saddest song. Later in life he would renounce this position and say it produced only dissonant music.
Letters, Montaigne said, are a necessary evil.
But are they? asked Blake, years later. I shall write of the world without them.
I would grow mold on the language, said Pasteur. Except nothing can grow on that cold, dead surface.
Of words Teresa of Avila said, I did not live to erase them all.
They make me sick, said Luther. Yours and yours and yours. Even sometimes my own.
If it can be said, then I am not interested, wrote Schopenhauer.
When told to explain himself, a criminal in Arthur's court simply pointed at the large embroidered alphabet that hung above the king.
Poets need a new instrument, said Shelley.
If I could take something from the world, said Nietzsche, and take with it even the memory of that thing, so that the world might carry on ever forward with not even the possibility that thing could exist again, it would be the language that sits rotting inside my mouth.
I am a writer, said Picasso. I make my own letters.
Shall I destroy this now, or shall I wait for you to leave the room, said his patron to Kadmos, the reputed inventor of the alphabet.
Kadmos is a fraud, said Wheaton. Said Nestor. Said William James.
Do not read this, warned Plutarch.
Do not read this, warned Cicero.
Do not read this, begged Ovid.
If you value your life.
Bleed a man, and with that vile release spell out his name in the sand, prescribed Hippocrates.
No alphabet but in things, said Williams.
Correction. No alphabet at all.'
The Flame Alphabet
' "I need a horse," said Granny.
"There's old Poorchick's plough horse—" Shawn began.
"I . . . er . . . I've got a mule," said Oats. "The King was kind enough to let me put it in the stables."
"Neither one thing nor t'other, eh?" said Granny. "It suits you. That'll do for me, then. Fetch it up here and I'll be off to get the girls back."
"What? I thought you wanted it to take you up to your cottage! Into Uberwald? Alone? I couldn't let you do that!"
"I ain't asking you to let me do anything. Now off you go and fetch it, otherwise Om will be angry, I expect."
"But you can hardly stand up!"
"Certainly I can! Off you go."
Oats turned to the assembled Lancrastians for support.
"You wouldn't let a poor old lady go off to confront monsters on a wild night like this, would you?
They watched him owlishly for a while just in case something interestingly nasty was going to happen to him.
Then someone near the back said, "So why should we care what happens to monsters?"
And Shawn ogg said, "That's Granny Weatherwax, that is."
"But she's an old lady!" Oats insisted.
The crowd took a few steps back. Oats was clearly a dangerous man to be around.
"Would you go out alone on a night like this?" he said.
The voice at the back said, "Depends if I knew where Granny Weatherwax was."
"Don't think I didn't hear that, Bestiality Carter," said Granny, but there was just a hint of satisfaction in her voice.'
Bonus quote because, Hannibal:
"Don't trust the cannibal just 'cos he's usin' a knife and fork!"
- (Page 271)
'There was no sign, sound or smell of the Greme.
Philip settled himself in front of his screen and plunged eagerly into Part the Second.
The switch of narrator, the change of voice which, during transcription, had briefly startled him out of his enchantment, now astonished him utterly.
Who in God's name was this omniscient narrator out of nowhere? Why this totally unheralded side-step into the Third Person? What the hell was Pocket up to? His eyes jittered down a page of text. Then he stopped himself, scrolled back up and began again.
Bemused though he was, he had to concede that this new voice was extremely beguiling. Magisterial, yet without the slightest taint of pomposity. Literary but also intimate, conversational. Mellow with dark undertones. Complex yet unstrained, like Henry James cured of costiveness. Avuncular. Strangely familiar. Very, very good.
Better, Philip acknowledged bitterly, than anything he had ever written. Better than anything he would or could ever write. A first-time novelist ‑ and a bloody gnome, into the bargain ‑ had achieved a feat of literary ventriloquism way beyond the reach of his own striving.
The little shit.'
- Mal Peet
The Murdstone Trilogy
'When God had made The Man, he made him out of stuff that sun all the time and glittered all over. Then after than some angels got jealous and chopped him into millions of pieces, but still he glittered and hummed. So they beat him down to nothing but sparks but each little spark had a shine and a song. So they covered each on over with mud. And the lonesomeness in the sparks make them hunt for one another, but the mud is dead and dumb. Like all the other tumbling mud-balls, Janie had tried to show her shine.'
They Eyes Were Watching God
'There were holes under her armpits to sew for school.
The cotton blouse in his hands looked slippier to get to grips with than the squirrel he was fixing on the bench. Clary saw him measure every squirrely inch. Her spine tingled, afraid, as the squirrel got lost, then became itself again. Cale stitched her blouse to the leg of his jeans and said fuck ‑ "Sorry pumpkin, not a word you should use. Ok?" he said. The girl nodded. She has always understood some words are wood wool, stuffed into gaps to fill holes, and others are flesh, stomachs and hearts. They must be removed.'
Don't Try This at Home
Initially i thought i loathed this collection of short stories but three days after finishing it, it's still on my mind.
Perhaps a case of the parts being more than the whole.