James Salter, Bangkok

I’ll tell you something funny, Hollis said, something I heard. They say that everything in the universe, the planets, all the galaxies, everything—the entire universe—came originally from something the size of a grain of rice that exploded and formed what we have now, the sun, stars, earth, seas, everything there is, including what I felt for you.

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Thomas Keneally, Schindler’s Ark

”The resistance claimed that ten thousand murders on a given day were within the capacity of Auschwitz Two. Then, for the Łódź area, there was the camp at Chelmo, also equipped according to the new technology. To write these things now is to state the commonplace of history. But to find them out in 1942, to have them break upon you from a June sky, was to suffer a fundamental shock, a derangement in that area of the brain in which stable ideas about humankind and its possibilities are kept.”

John Banville, The Sea

“I see them there, my poor parents, rancorously playing at house in the childhood of the world. Their unhappiness was one of the constants of my earliest years, a high, unceasing buzz just beyond hearing. I did not hate them. I loved them, probably. Only they were in my way, obscuring my view of the future. In time I would be able to see right through them, my transparent parents.”

Harper Lee (1926-2016)

”When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem’s fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury. His left arm was somewhat shorter than his right; when he stood or walked, the back of his hand was at right angles to his body, his thumb parallel to his thigh.”